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2004 Liberty 42RLE Binding in Reverse

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Jeep Liberty 3.7L 4x4 - 42RLE

Hi everyone, I've read through many posts regarding KJ driveline issues but could not find one that matched my symptoms.

Bought the KJ at a city auction so I dont have any history of how it was driven or repairs done prior. While driving it home the rear axle was whining for cheese and after all said and done the rear pionion bearing race was bad (missing 1" of chorme plating) and someone (other than me) had worked on the differential along with assembling it incorrectly. Final tally for rear axle - new locker differential (old diff case was badly scarred, broken axle gear teeth, worm gear seats worn), new bearings throughout, shimmed pinion so now drive and coast patterns are good (other mechanic did not install any shims). set clearances and torques, all better now.


The problem i am really trying to fix is the binding in reverse. This I discovered while first trying to get the Jeep to move. - the car acts normal in drive (2wd) but has the whirring/grind noise (like parking pawl is just barely engaged) when in reverse the car will move normal but for only 1ft, after that the whirring/grind noise (like parking pawl is just barely engaged) then the transmission binds up similar to applying the brakes, when this happens i have to raise engine rpms above 1300rpm to get it moving again. As soon as I let off the gas the car stops like I applied the brakes. I was hoping the rear axle repairs would resolve this but it has not made a difference.


video for your viewing pleasure


2004 Jeep LIberty NP231 Noise - YouTube


I was thinking its something in the transfer case but after removing t-case and while it's laying on the ground the symptoms have not dimished nor changed.. still binding. I am certain it's in the transmission but am hoping someone can shed some light as to what might be happening.

Any and all help is appreciated.

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hunfiscam...Welcome to the forums!...Your 42RLE problem sounds at least like a shift cable, park lockout cable or shift solenoid related issue.  First, I would troubleshoot the shift mechanism, park lockout and shift cable adjustments.  Next, look for a solenoid problem.  Lastly, suspect reverse clutch trouble or other internal problems. 


Everyone prefers an easier cure than a complete overhaul, so begin with the external issues.  Start with the gear shift mechanism, gearshift cables and park lockout.  From there, move to the clutch hold functions and the shift solenoids. 


I've isolated three factory approaches to the 42RLE in a Liberty KJ Jeep.  Please review these and follow-up with troubleshooting as needed:


42RLE Shift Mechanism.pdf 42RLE Clutch Applies.pdf 42RLE Gearshift Cable & Holding Clutches.pdf 


It's always good to get a conclusive result.  The 42RLE is not simple, however, and being conclusive will take a systematic approach.  I would begin with the shift linkage, cables and overall shift mechanism to see if the parking pawl is actually dragging as you hint.  Past that, the pressure checks and clutch apply checks would be warranted.  Consider clutch damage on the reverse clutch, although the binding issue could also be solenoids sticking.


Unfortunately, as an auction vehicle, this KJ came with little historical information.  Look for signs of the transmission pan being dropped for a hasty repair.  Look for an electrical wiring patch job, especially to the shift solenoids or transmission controller.


I trust you're on the right track.  You know your way around the vehicle by now with the transfer case removed and front driveline disconnected.  Thanks for sharing the YouTube video, it was insightful.


Please update this topic with any questions, findings and your repairs...



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