The Novak Guide to the

New Process / New Venture Gear 242 Transfer Case

np242_transfer_caseThe Jeep NP242 transfer case was introduced in the 1987 model year as a replacement for the NP228. The 242 premiered in the XJ Cherokee / Wagoneer and MJ Commache as the SelecTrac option. It was then specified for then new 1991-1998 ZJ Grand Cherokee model. The 242 persisted throughout the full run of XJ Cherokees and continued on in the 2002 KJ Liberty.

The 242 was originally tagged as the 242AMC, and as ownership of AMC was taken over by Chrysler, it was later designated as the 242J. This transfer case was later called the NVG (New Venture Gear) 242. Despite the different nomenclature, very few mechanical changes were required or made throughout their production span.

Earlier attempts at torque-biasing transfer cases were spotty in their success, beginning with the QuadraTrac in the 1970's and continuing with the NP219 and NP228. The 242 has continued in the trend of chain-driven cases and has technically and commercially been more successful than its predecessors.


Ranges & Modes

A Novak Rebuilt 242 transfer case

The 242 has a driver's side front output and centerline rear output. The NP242 features two ranges; a low range gear that is a respectable 2.72-to-1 low and a direct-drive in high range. It features three drive modes; 2wd, full-time 4wd and part-time 4wd, yielding:

  • two-wheel-drive, high (direct-drive)
  • four-wheel-drive, high (48/52 differential torque-biased-drive)
  • four-wheel-drive, high (locked, part-time)
  • neutral
  • four-wheel-drive, low (locked, reduction-drive)

Though Full-Time is the nomenclature, this is a position that still should be used sparingly, as component wear throughout the geartrain and tires results, in addition to decreased fuel-efficiency.

NP242 Shifting Modes

Speedometer Cables to Speed Sensors

Early 242s from 1988 through 1991 featured a conventional mechanical (cable) drive speedometer output. In 1992, Jeep introduced a three-wire, digital square wave Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS), in the vein of modern automotive systems.

Strength & Design

The design of the 242 is good. They were engineered for durability and simplicity of build - both an advantage to the OEM assemblers as well as individuals servicing them. The NP242 transfer case has turned out to be stronger than expected.

Interestingly, New Venture documents show the 242 as being rated at 1486 ft. lbs. of torque. This is probably determined based on Full-Time position usage, and the weak-sauce diameter of the Jeep output shafts. Experience would say that this is a conservative number for all other positions. The strength rating for Jeep 242's is clearly limited by the splindly output shafts, as seen below:

The top three shafts shown are various Jeep versions. The lowermost shaft is the HMMWV 'Hummer' output shaft, featuring a 32 spline output shaft and larger hub journal for full HD service.

This 242 SYE is the ticket to significantly strengthen your 242 and eliminate the slip-yoke driveshaft.


This tag indicates a 242J transfer case, with a part number of 52098886, a build date of 5-7-96 and a gear ratio of 2.72:1.

This transfer case is identified by its red and silver tag on the rear of the case. They are also easily identified by appearance. They feature a six-bolt front face and a longitudinally ribbed barrel case.

The 242 weighs about 85 lbs.

There is a GM version of the 242 as used in the H1 Hummer (1992-2006) and the later H2 (2003-2009). It features a front face six-bolt pattern that is compatible with the Jeep six-bolt styles. This GM version is rated at a stronger duty by virtue of its heavy duty 32 spline input and output shaft, a 6 pinion differential and a 1.25" wide chain. It also features an integrated cooler, as seen below.

Transmission Compatibility & Adaptability

The Jeep 242 is found behind these factory transmissions:

Manuals, native

It's rumored that AX15 and NV3550 transmissions have been seen as factory against the 242. We've not been able to confirm this, but they are at least natively compatible, so it's possible.

Automatics, native
  • F904 (909) / 30RH, 1987-2006
  • F999 / 32RH (RE), 1987-2006
  • AW4, 1988-2001
  • 42 RE
  • 46 RE

Adaptation to better transmissions is often less costly than rebuilding any weaker Jeep gearboxes and provides serious performance and strength upgrades. The 231 adapts very well to several popular transmissions, including:

Manuals, upgrades

Adapting the 242 to the SM-420 transmission Adapting the 242 to the SM-465 transmission Adapting the 242 to the T-18 transmission Adapting the 242 to the NP-435 transmission
SM420 SM465 T18 NP435


Adapting the 242 to the TH-350 transmission Adapting the 242 to the TH-400 transmission Adapting the 242 to the 700R-4 transmission Adapting the 242 to the 4L60-E transmission Adapting the 242 to the 4L80-E transmission Adapting the 242 to the 6l80 transmission
TH350 TH400 TH700R4 / Early 4L60-E Later 4L60-E 4L80-E 6L80 / 6L90

242 Shifter Assembly


Improving the 242's Shifting Mechanism

242's have a variety of factory shifter mechanisms. Essentially all of them are clunky and problematic "Z-gate" shifters. Their convoluted linkage systems can be entirely replaced with Novak kit #SK2X, our smooth shifting, universal shifter. This shifter assembly also simplifies the upgrade to the above transmissions.

Rebuilding the 242


The 242 can be enjoyable to rebuild. Their assembly is intuitive, and parts availability is good.


The 242 master rebuild kit

242 Input Gears & Compatibility

There are important variations in these Model 231 input gears, depending on the transmission and year of the Jeep. We discuss this topic in greater detail on this page.

Speedometer Gears

NP231 speedometer gears are interchangeable to correct for tire size and axle ratio changes. See this page to learn more about this.


The 242 has surprised us, positively. They're strong (or can be), capable, servicable and have the features wanted for some Jeeps and the options of 4wd that they may require. Keeping a New Process 242 for your definition of an ultimate Jeep build may worth considering.