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I'm more of a woodworker than a mechanic, and since this is my first 4x4 I'll ask those in the know what your thoughts are to get me going again.

I've towed this Sidekick behind my RV many times; HOWEVER, a mistake was made when setting it up to tow. As required trans was in 2nd, hubs free; BUT, the 4x4 was put in 4H instead of neutral.

Towed the rig about 3 freeway miles, the last mile there was a small amount of white smoke from the underside (stated by friends behind me). Brought the rig home, and left for the trip (less Sidekick). Home now.

Sidekick won't even CRANK with ignition, and good battery volts. Worst fear was a seized engine so thought I would push start it in 1st, pop the clutch to see if engine would roll over thinking that would tell me if the engine was seized or not. BUT...I find I can push the rig down the driveway in first gear with the clutch out. Odd to me. There should be engine compression resistance or if it's seized it shouldn't move. Yes or no? Like I said my first 4x4 and have some lack of understanding the drive relationship between; transfer gears, transmission and engine. Clean machine and I haven't had to work on it except routine service.

I'd sure appreciate your thoughts and what I might look for...or tests I could make to further diagnose. What damage could be done with the 4x4 trans in 4H?...to the engine, clutch, transmission, transfer gears? HELP.
 

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Welcome to the forum.
You advise that the engine won’t crank - meaning that you turn the key and...nothing?? Have you tried manually turning the engine, using the bolt that you see at the timing belt? It may be difficult with the spark plugs in, due to compression, but if you remove the spark plugs, you should be able to rotate that bolt, clockwise. And with being able to move the car ‘in gear’, are you sure that your transfer case is now not in neutral? Others will know better about this issue than me...:(. But I would suspect the potential of transmission/transfer case damage rather than the engine....???
 

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I thinking that you may have multiple problems, not cranking points in one direction, and being able to push the car in gear points in another.

I'd start with Bex' suggestion, turning the engine by hand using either the crank bolt, with the plugs out if necessary - once you've determined that the engine will rotate, we can then treat it as a no crank problem and assess the situation from that angle.

The problem of the car moving in gear may be nothing more than a clutch issue or as Bex has suggested the transfer case being in neutral, if it were transmission or transfer case damage, I would be expecting "crunching" noises which you haven't mentioned.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Bex and fordem.

I turn the key to ignition, but nothing, no starter crank no nothing. There is battery volts (on voltmeter) and dash lights are on.

Yes, the transfer was still in neutral. i put it into 2H and first gear, and with the clutch out it still rolls without resistance. ???? Broken trany shaft???

This weekend I'll crawl under and look for anything obvious. And remove plugs to hand turn the engine. Engine oil is normal on dipstick and does not smell or appear burnt. No fluid leak spots underneath anywhere.
Turning the engine is the place to start. Sure hope I didn't fry the engine.
More later.
 

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Does the starter even turn over? or no clicking at all? That usually points to an electrical not a mechanical issue. I would expect a click and a noise even if the starter was jammed somehow. Got access to a remote starter button to test it?

Busted trans input shaft is a distinct possibility, as is destroyed clutch. Until you separate the transmission from the engine and start diagnosing you aren't going to find out easily.
 

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Yes, the transfer was still in neutral. i put it into 2H and first gear, and with the clutch out it still rolls without resistance. ???? Broken trany shaft???
Let's look at that first statement - is the transfer case in neutral or not? If the transfer case is in neutral the vehicle is free to roll unless braked.
 

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I seem to interpret his post as meaning that initially the transfer case was in neutral during his first test, he then put it into 2wd, put the transmission into 1st gear, and the car still rolls with no resistance. I suspect that it’s probably a good idea to get under the car primarily, and see that all components are still hooked up.
Regarding the no crank situation (as in turn the key and no starter spin) I would find it unlikely that your towing situation caused this. If you can manually turn the engine, then it’s time to look elsewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
2013GV and fordem

Transfer "was" in neutral when I pushed it the first time, then I posted question.. but now it's in 2H & 1st gear...it still rolls free. No crunching/meshing of gears heard.

Disconnecting tranny from engine is probably the key. Isolate any single component issue.

My biggest wonder is why the starter won't turn. I don't suspect an electrical issue, because it started and drove fine when I hooked it up behind the RV. Gotta be something either bound up in the drive train/clutch/transmission preventing turnover...or seized engine. That would be a serious downer. Don''t have any idea what a used replacement could cost or availability. Wait till I get to the problem first. But oh the thought.

In 2nd gear & 4H with the (manual) hubs free, it wouldn't be like driving it in 4x4 mode because the hubs were free...would it? I mean the front hubs would have to be locked to be in 4x4 right? So, then (2nd & 4H) the front differential and axles would have been turning with the front wheels free spinning (because they were not locked)? I'm sure the front differential gearing is not made to be running down the freeway at 60 even without the front hubs locked in 4x4.

Owned for 3 years and only been in 4x4 once just to check it out when I bought it. I should probably sell it and stick to my woodworking projects...but I'm curious AND a Do-it-yourselfer. Just that I need mechanical suggestions. Thanks!
ANY info is most helpful. More later.....
 

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How I would approach this is to put a wrench onto the crank bolt and try to turn the engine ...

- if it turns, you have an electrical issue causing the no crank situation.

- if the engine turns freely, there may be engine damage as there should be some resistance as each cylinder comes onto the compression stroke.

- if it doesn't turn, you have a) a damaged engine and b) a drive train issue allowing the vehicle to roll freely when it should not.

The fact that there are no grinding/crunching noises as the vehicle rolls in gear suggests that either the transfer case is in neutral (irrespective of the shift lever position) or the clutch may have disintegrated.
 
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