NP203 Vs NP205: What’s The Best Transfer Case? [Must Know]

Although a transfer case is necessary for all vehicles, 4-wheel drive vehicles require one in particular. It transfers power from the front wheels to the rear wheels for enhanced functionality in 4WD automobiles. Our goal today is to compare the most popular NP203 and NP205 transfer cases.

NP 203 isn’t quite as powerful as NP 205 since the 203 is chain-driven, whereas the 205 is gear-driven. Additionally, the 203 is a 4WD and full-time vehicle unless it has been modified to be part-time. 203 is also slightly longer compared to 205, although its front output is similar to 205’s due to the 203’s differences.

NP203 Vs NP205: Which is more efficient for your vehicle? Read on to discover the secrets of both.

NP203 Vs NP205: In-Short Comparison

SpecificationsNP203 NP205
Manufacturer:New Process GearNew Process Gear
Drive Type:Full time, manual shift, chain-driven,Part time, manual shift, helical gearbox
Weight:160 to 170 lbs, dry130 to 140 lbs, dry
Applications:1974 – 1979 = Ford pickups1974 – 1979 = Dodge pickups1973 – 1979 = Chevrolet/GMC pickups1969 – 1993 = Dodge pickups (plus 1989-93 Cummins)1972 – 1979 = Ford pickup1969 – 1980 = Chevrolet/GMC pickups
Gear Ratios:High Range: 1.00: 1 (all-wheel drive)Low Range: 2.00: 1High Range: 1.00: 1 (all-wheel drive)Low Range: 1.96: 1
Case:Cast iron & sectionalCast iron & 1 piece
Fluid Type:10w -30w motor oil80w – 90w gear oil
Identification:Identification tag on the front of the case, above the output shaft for 4WDIdentification tag on the front of the case, above the output shaft for 4WD

A Detailed Comparison of NP203 Vs NP205:

NP203: What Are They?

NP203 chain-drive transfer cases were used in the model years 1974 to 1979 Ford/Dodge pickups and from 1973 to 1979 Chevrolet/GMC pickups. One of its biggest problems is that it was built as a full-time transfer case. The internal differential distributes torque equally between the rear and front wheels. Power is divided between the right and left tires in much the same way as an open axle differential does.

NP205: What Are They?

NP205 transfer cases are among the most popular and durable transfer cases currently offered for pickup trucks. The case body was cast in one piece, and the helical gears made it sturdy. There were 3 major companies using the case – Dodge, Ford, & General Motors – for various pickup models from 1969 to 1993. There have been several variations, especially due to different mounting options and patterns required by the three automakers.


NP203 transfer cases consist of 4 separate sections attached with bolts. Sections include the range box, the chaincase that contains the front drive-shaft to the chain drive, as well as the differential & output housings. In general, the front and back sections are made up of cast iron, while the back two sections are usually made of aluminum. Approximately 22-23″ measures the distance between the case front and the center of the rear output tube. As part of the NP-203’s range box section is a shifter that operates the two levers via one shaft. Model information (if it does) can be found above the front output shaft on the chassis. This will include the model, the manufacturing date, and the ratios of gear.

NP205 transfer cases are made from cast iron. It comes with a short output housing/bearing retainer below the case. The front is equipped with aluminum seal retainers/bearing retainers, as well as rear outputs, but there is only one iron housing for all the components. On average, the NP-205 is 12-13 inches long, measured from the case front to the yoke output. This lever operates a crossbar that slides along 2 shift rails that enter the case from the front.

In this category, NP 205 transfer cases won undoubtedly. On the back of the 205, there is a small cover for the idler shaft, which is attached with 3 little bolts. Transfer cases don’t usually have this feature. 


Often, a transfer case is modified to run only part-time, which eliminates numerous reliability concerns associated with a perpetual transfer case. Additionally, NP203 part-time conversions reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency by a noticeable amount. The chain can stretch with time, but in daily use, the chain’s reliability isn’t a serious concern. In particular, this is the case when a transfer is turned into a part-time position. The NP205/NP203 doubler kit (which combines 2 transfer cases) is used frequently by off-roaders who want to dramatically change their gearing.

GM and Dodge offered transfer cases “married” to transmissions, but Ford sold a divorced transfer case from 1972 – to 1977. Due to the success & popularity of the unit, and rebuild kits are relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain. Due to its gear driven nature, NP205 is preferred over the NP203, which is chain driven. The NP205 typically accompanied manual transmissions, whereas the NP203 was typically used for automatic transmissions during this same period, with many exceptions.

NP205 also wins the performance game, obviously. Off-roaders tend to prefer the NP-205, even though its biggest flaw is its relatively high low gearing ratio. Regardless, the new process NP 205 is far more popular.


In addition to being a full-time transfer, NP203 also has a particular shift pattern. Drivers are able to choose from (front to rear) Low, Low-Loc, Neutral, High, & Hi-Loc. In the Low/Hi “Loc” positions. The transfer casing differential is locked, equally distributing power over the front & rear axles. In the Low/High positions, drive power can be distributed independently according to driving conditions. 

The NP205 is available in several versions, each with its own mounting type and number of splines. With 32-spline input and output shafts, Ford sold the NP205 in both married & divorced versions. GM and Dodge transmissions were available with different spline counts. The most common configuration is input with 10 or 30 splines, and an output with 32 splines. The 4WD output shafts for the NP205 cases were mounted to the passenger sides, whereas Ford used an output shaft mounted on the driver’s side.

NP203 is clearly the winner here. NP203 allows drivers to choose between Low, Low-Loc, Neutral, High, & Hi-Loc (from front to rear). Other transfer cases do not have this capability.

NP203 Vs NP205: Which Should You Pick?

Also, if you are wondering which is the better choice between NP203 Vs NP205, this section is for you. NP203s are full-time 4WD chain-driven cases. Part-time conversion kits are available as well. However, NP203s are considered less durable than 205s & are heavier. When you have a timing kit installed, you have to shift to 4WD every now and then. Therefore, the chain brings the oil to the surface.

Firstly, you have to decide what you want. Many people consider the 203 to be weak, but it offers the same load capacity as the 205. Finally, the choice is completely up to you.


How Are NP203 & NP205 Transfer Cases Different?

NP205 are part-time t-cases, whereas NP203 are full-time cases. If you are not sure what you are searching for, it is easiest to crawl under the truck on the right side. You can check the T-case located between the input to the transmission & the output of the front driveshaft.

The NP203 Is A Really Great Transfer Case, Isn’t It?

The cast-aluminum case of the NP203 is much more durable compared to the NP205’s aluminum case. In spite of the chain’s weakness, it does not perform as well as the NP 205 gearboxes. In most cases, a higher score will result unless you’re just riding around the town without abusing the NP203.

Can The NP205 Be Twin-Sticked?

With the NP205, it is possible to switch to the twin-stick transmission without having to disassemble the transfer case unit completely. Currie twin-stick shifters for Dana 300s can be modified for use with NP205s. You can modify this assembly to suit married 205s quite easily, and you can make one yourself.


NP203 Vs NP205: What are the major differences? Which one to choose will be a wise decision?

  • The NP 203 is chain driven, an aluminum, and full time transfer case.
  • NP 203 is less durable than NP 205, which is bulletproof.
  • However, the NP 205 is all gear driven, cast iron, and part time T-case.
  • The NP205 is completely gear driven, can be twin splined with little effort, & is probably one of the most robust light-duty transfer cases ever produced. It has a four-wheel drive as well.

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