This weekend we went out for dinner, got back into our jeep (1999 or 2000 Cherokee) and the starter was acting up. Bit of troubleshooting (jump, checked fuses & solenoid connection, etc) didn't work and the vehicle was in a 1hr parking zone, so I had to call a late-night towing company to get it towed to our mechanic's lot before morning.
Tow truck came and it was fairly old-school, i.e. rickety. And here's my concern: all the driver did to prep the Jeep for towing was to ask me whether it was set to two wheel drive (it was) rather than 4x. Then he just lifted the back wheels and towed it away with the Jeep still in park (auto transmission) and the front wheels on the ground (steering wheel was strapped).
Granted I know nothing about towing, but it just seemed kinda odd to me - like if it wasn't on a flatbed or front-wheel dolly the vehicle should have been in neutral or something. I'm just having visions of insane wear on the transmission or similar.
The tow truck driver was a nice enough guy but young - I did ask him if this was usual procedure and he replied "Sure is", but it's sure as hell nerve wracking to put your vehicle in the hands of someone else.
Was about a 5 mile tow so nothing long distance. Our shop is busy so they might not get to the Jeep till later in the week, just wanted to get some info in the meantime. The irony being that I have no worry about the starter or whatever issues, it's the tow after the fact that's got me stressing....
Yup, I specifically asked on that to double check and he confirmed leave it in park.
He did say if he towed it from the front he'd have to use a dolly to lift all 4 wheels. So I'm guessing that in my case the front wheels were free to roll on the ground if the rears are lifted due to RWD, even though it was in park?
The front wheels spin freely while in 2wd and trans in park. When put into 4wd it locks in the transfer case. That's why when working on the rear of the jeep put the t-case in 4hi and trans in park to lock up the front. If you haven't noticed the front drive shaft will spin while driving but that is only from the front wheels spinning since the hubs are always locked together, the t-case spins freely. T-case and the transmission should be perfectly fine!
__________________ 1997 XJ Sport
6.5" with 31's
Built to CRAWL BUILD THREAD IG: zack_hstadt
Straight from the 1999 Jeep Cherokee owner's manual for both Command-Trac(NP231/NV231) and Select-Trac(NP242/NV242). "Four-wheel-drive vehicles showed be towed with the front raised and the rear wheels on the ground. Insure that the transfer case is in Neutral (N) and the transmission is either in Park (automatic transmission) or in gear (manual transmission)."
On the next page. "Vehicles must not be towed with the front wheels on the ground and the rear wheels lifted due to transfer case damage unless the front axle driveshaft is removed."
The reason for this towing setup is that the rear drive shaft will run the oil pump in the transfer case thus lubricating the internals. The automatic transmission in park and the manual transmission in gear prevents the transfer case from spinning the output shaft of the transmission due to parasitic drag which would be bad since the transmission's oil pump is not running.
Some older Jeep manuals specified that the opposite towing configuration of rear raised and front on the ground was permissible for short distances. I forget the exact numbers, but it was either five or fifteen miles. Over time the recommended restrictions for Jeep towing has been tightened. The 2012 Jeep Wrangler owner's manual states that absolutely no configuration of wheels on the ground is allowed and that all towing must be done on a flat bed.
2004 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
1997 Jeep Comanche - 4.7L Stroker, Lifted, "Restored", and soon to be supercharged.
2000 Jeep Cherokee - Dimples, Factory Stock
As LimeLJ said, the transfer case oil pump on your NP231 transfer case only pumps when the rear output shaft is spinning. What you had going on was that the front driveshaft was turning the front output shaft, which turns the drive chain inside the TC (that does get immersed in fluid at the bottom of the case), and that turns the front drive gear on the output shaft, which isn't being lubricated. That's pretty bad. Damage, if any occurred, should be isolated to the one gear and the output shaft.
How far did it get towed?
At minimum I would do a transfer case flush and get some fresh fluid in there. Dig up the owner's manual, kindly let them know they messed up and that you're concerned about the health of your transfer case, and see if the they will cover it. Worst case scenario, you have to replace the output shaft (which comes as part of a SYE kit anyway ) and/or the front drive gear.