Re: Explorer seems to be stuck in 4X4
Since this thread is several months old, hopefully avansabben got his problem fixed.
My 1997 did same thing once. Think the shift motor didn't actuate or hung up. Turned control knob to 4H then to 4L, then back to 4H and Auto. No more problems. Since then, periodically shift to 4L and back just to be sure everything works.
I've known others who had the shift motor go bad or something else in shift motor electric system so transfer case wouldn't shift. If you can't shift into 4L, shift motor probably isn't working so test this first to help isolate problem.
Also, if you (or previous owner) got the vehicle stuck and tried rocking it out in 4WD auto, you may have gotten the transfer case clutch hot enough to stick. There's a clutch inside the transfer case that engages the front drive train when the rear wheels spin (4WD auto mode). Always shift to 4H or 4L if you are stuck, much less strain on drive train. If you burn them up, those clutch assemblies aren't cheap either.
On 4WD Auto mode vehicles, the front drive axles and drive shaft always turn when vehicle is moving so that's no indication its stuck in 4WD. There's no "freewheel" like with the old manual or automatic hubs.