Pajero 4x4 - 4wd offroad

Pajero flashing light fix

Free Pajero 4WD Flashing Light Fix and Troubleshooting
last updated 15th Sept. 2006

***Thank you for all the great comments, and suggestions however due to constant spam I have closed the comments section****

Many Pajero's (including Montero / Shogun variants ) owners at one time or another face is the dreaded 4x4 Super Select flashing light problem. It only takes a small amount of crud in the wrong place to upset the system so pays to acquaint yourself with it if you want to fix it yourself. (I understand that Super select is known as Active Trak in some models/countries).

NOTE: This article is based on a gen2.5 PETROL RHD vehicle, Also please note there are some differences between some models/engines - so your mileage may vary!

Flashing super select 4wd lights most often occur when the front differential automatic disconnect is not engaging /dis-engaging when you select/deselect 4x4 drive. Causes are:

- front differential sensor switch is damaged or faulty
- actuator rod/shaft jammed / seized (perhaps sand/mud/dirt)
- vacuum lines leak/popped off fittings
- vacuum solenoid valves (2no.) either maybe faulty
- electrical wiring connection issue (ecu/solenoids/switch)
- combination of the above

From the Montero / Pajero / Shogun forums it is clear that another common problem is flashing lights after repair work, for example after installing a new gearbox, or even a new radio.

Radio Installation
READERS TIP **** If you have just installed or repalced your radio/cassette/dvd player and you experience a new flashing light problem, check that you have not damaged or pulled a wire from the 4wd ecu (blue box) which is located just below the radio opening.

Other problems, for example the orange flashing light is also covered below.

How it works
It helps troubleshooting if you understand how the system should work. Pajero's have a four wheel drive system that allows the driver to engage 2 or 4wd, The rear differential is always driven, selecting 4wd engages the front differential free wheel, using a vacuum powered system.

The transfer gearbox (4wd) is mechanical (1998 GDI 3.5) so the selected gear is just that. Whatever the position of the transfer gearbox stick that is the gear you are in, it is a mechanical function.

The status of the system is indicated on the drivers console i.e. super select panel, however most often problems occur causing flashing lights, because there is a discrepancy between engaging/dis-engaging mechanism on the front differential and the transfer gearbox (t-case) gearstick position.

At ignition, in 2wd, the bottom pair of green lights are lite and stay lite constantly, because these lights are lite constantly, failure usually means a blown bulb(s).

The top pair of green lights flash briefly at startup but that is just an ECU start up check. If 4wd is properly selected and all the sensors are playing nicey, all four green lights are lite, and should not be flashing.

The main components of the system we need to look at are:

- super select light display
- Front differential
- Actuator
- Actuator shaft (and boot)
- Position sensor (the manual calls it the Free wheel engage switch)
- Vacuum control solenoid valves (x2)
- Vacuum piping (rubber and steel tubing)
- Vacuum tank (accumulator)
- 4WD ECU (electronic control unit)
- centre differential
- transfer gearbox

Most often the flashing light problem is an easy fix, primarily it happens because the 4wd system has not been regularly used. The 4wd must to be used regularly and exercised to keep it in good working order.

Assuming it's a Mk 1/2, the green lights are flashing because the system thinks that the front axle freewheel unit is still engaged and is trying to disengage it (or vice versa).

The system is operated via vacuum created by running engine (for petrol models) and is controlled by switches and electric solenoid valves. The solenoid valves on the bulkhead in front of the driver typically near the master cylinder. In turn they are connect to the actuator on the front axle by a mixture of steel and rubber piping. Once engaged (or disengaged) the position is verified by the free wheel sensor switch.

This list should help you track down and the problem fault. Sometimes something simple, such as reversing a few metres helps dis-engagement with wheels straight helps too. If reversing doesnt solve the problem you probably have a problem that needs further investigation.

Check your fluids. Check the transfer box oil and front differential oil levels. Remove the top filler plug, both should be filled to the level of the bottom of the fill hole.

Any foul/burnt smell gritty texture indicates the oil is spent and an oil change is needed. Identify the correct oil from your manual. It is a good idea to change the fill and plug washers at the same time. On mine, when the diff gets hot oil leaks from the fill plug (another thing to add to my things to do list).

Double check that all your tyres are the exactly same size and equal pressures. Slightly different tyre size / uneven wear may prevent correct engagement/dis-engagement.

Vacuum Solenoid Valves
A solenoid valve is a fancy term for an electrically controlled valve, in this case controlling vacuum to the Front differential actuator. On RHD drive models, the vacuum control solenoids are mounted near the top of the inner wheel tub, near the master cylinder. Vacuum is needed both to open, and close the actuator. Each typically identified with a blob of paint, yellow and blue. (see picture).

vacuum solenoid control valve

Electronic signals from the transfer box, to the gearbox ECU govern the operation of solenoids that control the vacuum feed to open and close the actuator located on the front differential.

The vacuum line with yellow strip, just visible in picture, connects to the solenoid with yellow paint blob, and in turn connects to front differential actuator. Same with the blue striped hose connecting to the solenoid with the blue blob of paint.

- Check that both solenoids are not sticking and operate correctly.
- Check the electrical resistance, should be approx. 39/45 ohms (Haynes states 45 ohms)
- Check the harness connection, apply electrical contact cleaner to clean connectors

Mounted on the cross member, near the front differential is a vacuum storage vessel, or acculumator. It is about the size of a tin of baked beans. worth checking for leaks, rust, lose connections, etc.

If you are greeted with flashing lights upon start up the vacuum accumulator (can) is unable to hold a vacuum, leaking or damage. Repair or replace. Also check that the vacuum line non-return valve is not leaking, causing accumulator to leak into the plenum overnight (refer to vacuum schematic drawing).

Vacuum Solenoids - top of wheel tub near master cylinder
Pajero 4wd Vacuum Solenoids

Actuator and shaft
Mount on the front differential, the actuator and shaft (covered with rubber boot) should be clean and free. Grease the actuator shaft under the rubber boot - they can seize and give a permanent flashing lights.

The actuator is circular shape, about 50mm in diameter.

Find someone you trust, lie under the car with the engine running while the "trusted" driver moves the transfer gear box (t-case) lever in and out of 4wd - you should see the shaft move.

If it is not moving is probably seized from lack of use, carefully pull back the rubber boot and get some grease on the actuator rod. Try and slide it - it should move fairly easily if you jack a wheel and turn it a bit.

If the shaft still doesn't move freely, pull each vacuum connection, and test if one, or other is sucking! (wise to ensure that the person behind the wheel knows what they are doing! - handbrake applied and auto in Park of course).

pajero 4wd flashing light fixing image

Key for images:
A - Actuator
B - Boot (covering actuator shaft)
C - Vacuum can (about the size of a tin of baked beans)
D - Differential (front)
E - Axle casing
F - Crossmember

Front Differential Actuator
Front Differential Actuator

Free Wheel Engage Switch
When change 2wd to 4wd and vice versa, the actuator moves the actuator shaft, and its position is monitored by the free wheel engage switch. If the actuator is moving and the shaft is free, then the next check is the free wheel engage switch. It either needs replacing or cleaning (bad connection). This is located above the actuator shaft and if you remove your bashplates can see it clearly.

To test continuity, whilst in 4wd, and igintion off, link across the connector. Upon restart if the flashing has stopped this confirms the wiring from the connector to the ecu is intact and the switch needs work (don't forget to remove the link and reinstate afterwards).

pajero flashing lights fix

Key for images:
A - Actuator
B - Boot (covering actuator shaft)
C - Vacuum can (about the size of a tin of baked beans)
D - Differential (front)
E - Axle casing
F - Crossmember

Vacuum Piping
The vacuum piping comprises a combination of steel tube and rubber hoses bascially routed from the engine through the solenoid valves to the actuator. The piping might be leaking, disconnected or perished. Also it is easy to miss reconnecting if you have just done other work in that area (been there done that!). The non-return valve may also be faulty.

You need to make sure that all the vacuum piping and hoses , and all connections are good. And don't forget without a hand vacuum pump the engine needs to be running to create the vacuum.

To help trace any leakage:

- Inspect the piping it might be damaged, leaking, spilt, cut, missing or perished.

- Temporary swap over the vacuum hoses (yellow and blue stripe outlet from solenoid valves) if lights stop flashing, the fault is either yellow stripe or blue stripe tubing. Replace hoses to orginal position and track pipe leakage. A hand vacuum pump is really handy since a vacuum leak can be difficult to identify.

- Test for continuity/blockage of piping. use a hand vaccum pump if available or alternately blow through disconnected pipe with helper underneath.

If you identify a leak or disconnected pipe just reconnecting may not be sufficient to solve the problem since dust and dirt will have been sucked into the soleniod valve.

Vacuum piping schematic diagram (pdf)

Click here for vaccum piping schematic diagram (PDF format 1 page)

Front axle (viewed from the front, beneath the radiator)
Pajero super select flashing light fix

Key for images:
A - Actuator
B - Boot (covering actuator shaft)
C - Vacuum can (about the size of a tin of baked beans)
D - Differential (front)
E - Axle casing
F - Crossmember

Automotive Hand Vacuum Pump
hand vacuum pump - helps to quickly identify leakage
Very useful tool to check vacuum piping.

Centre Differential - Orange flashing light
The transfer box (t-case) houses the centre differential, permitting drive to both front and rear wheels. On the super select panel it is represented as the central orange colour lamp, it is labelled "C/D Lock"

The manual I have indicates that there is a switch connector, from the centre diff, with a yellow/blue wire (which then changes to brown/black) and connects to the 4x4 ECU. If you have different year, or a rear diff locker the wiring is a bit more complex.

If you have the orange flashing light it is most probably an electrical issue with the centre differential detent switches on the transfer gear box (t/case), possibly a broken wire or fouled switch, could also be a poor connection due to mud/etc. There are five centre differential detent switches on the t/case for checking and inspection.

Vacuum Tank
If you lights flash furiously even before firing up your engine, it most likely a problem with the vacuum accumulator or the non-return valve (refer to piping). The acculumator is a small vacuum tank, to "store" or retain vacuum, it looks like a small tin can, about the size of a can of baked beans (the universal size guage) and it is located just behind the front differential with vaccum pipe connection.

Check the connection is secure, and tank itself is undamaged. Use hand vacuum pump if available to test for leakage.

On older models check for rust, if you are sure the tank is intact, perhaps add a coat of hammerite paint or equal. DONT paint or use any solvents until you are sure the can is sound, otherwise any weakness would allow contamination to be sucked into the vacuum system.

Transfer Gear box (t-case)
The wiring from the switches on the top of the transfer gearbox can perish/harden over time and have a tendency to break. Treat them with care! Check for wiring for clean connections, continuity and possible short circuit. Where possible clean connectors with electrical contact cleaner or equal.

transfer gearbox (t-case) sensor switches locations
Pajero flashing light fix - transfer case

A Wiring Diagram
I was asked for a wiring diagram, so there is link below. However, you have to be careful different models/years have different colour wiring!

click here for wiring diagram (appox 110k)

Very rarely the 4WD Electronic Control Unit (ECU) located behind the dash is faulty. I'd re-check all above first, and try to swap with a known, working ECU to confirm the ECU fault before replacement $$$$

Double check if you anyone has been working on the radio, you might have accidently disconnected/dislodges the ECU connection.

Keywords: super select, flashing lights, pajero, vacuum, solenoids, wiring diagram, 4WD lights, 4x4 display, lights flashing pajero, shogun, challenger, mitisbushi, flashing light fix, active trak


- Comments/improvements are welcome, dont forget to remove the nospam
- Feel free to copy and distribute. However, I update this page with new info from time time, therefore best to link back to this page as it will be the lastest version.
- E&OE


Pajero Links/ Clubs / Websites

Seems I have already hit the limit, for blog external links! Therefore this article will list links to Mitsubishi Pajero (Montero/Shogun/Challenger) related web-sites. As usual, I'll update and expand with more links as time permits.

Due to constant spamming (and no means to control it) the chance to offer comments is withdrawn.
feel free to email me - don't forget to remove the spamfree.

Mitsubishi 4x4 Forums
You will be amazed at the amount and quality of information already available online, it pays to do some research first - use the search facility before posting a question:

Pajero 4WD Club of Victoria (AUS)
Outerlimits 4x4 (AUS)
SA4x4 (South Africa)
Difflock (UK)
The Mud Club (UK)
Pajero Owners Club (UK)
Pajerouk Portal(UK)
4x4wire (USA)

Other 4x4 Forums
Land Cruiser
Ih8mud (USA)
Massive list of LC related technical articles
Overlander (AUS)

4x4 Clubs
Hong Kong Offroader Club
Hong Kong Land Rover Club
Hong Kong Land Cruiser Club

How to articles and reports
Body Lift
Flashing Light Fix
Raising IFS - Torsion Bars tweak
How to repair ECU pre-94

Technical Articles
Shock absorbers - everything you ever wanted to know about shock absorbers and damping (based on LC but very useful)

Dog And lemon guide - important for Mitisibushi imports

4crawler {aka Roger Brown Lift Kit} (USA)

Warn Industries Winches

Don's Tyre Fitting Guide (gen I)

Interesting Trucks/builds
Don's Pajero
Action Jackson Land Cruiser

4x4 Review
OffRoadAdventures Magazine
Pajero Paint codes


Another photo

Offroad where she belongs
pajero offroad where she belongs

Belt changing

Changing Pajero accessory belts

I changed all three accessory belts (alternator / power steering / air conditioning ) myself on a petrol 3.5 V6 GDI, it took a couple of hours. Not much different to any other vehicle:

This worked for me, follow at your own risk. I chose to replace all three belts at the same time, so at least I know there were all done.

- 50/50 coolant
- new belts
- grease
- WD40

- metric socket set and selection of 10-14mm spanners
- pliers

- remove bashplates (4 bolts)
- loosen, disconnect and remove top radiator hose (2 clips)
- some coolant will be lost, plug the pump opening with a rag to stop any debris getting into the pump
- remove lower section of rad. shroud (unclips)
- unbolt and remove rad. shroud (4 bolts)
- carefully slide rad shroud up, past fan - without damaging rad. fins
- place some plywood or board over the radiator to protect fins
- unbolt and remove fan (4 bolts)
- clean fan and coupling, inspect for leakage damaged blades (replace fan if cracked)
- loosen tensioner pulleys (3 no.) using extension bar, alternator bolt is accessed from beneath
- write down the belt routes!
- remove old belts (3no)
- remove tensioner pulleys, inspect, clean, grease, and reinstall (see note and photo for ac pulley)

- Carefully inspect crankcase pulleys and the crankbolt (well known problem)
- install the new belts
- adjust tension pulleys (3no)
- tested by rotating longest length between pulleys should be about 90 degrees rotation
- reinstall fan, fan shroud, lower fan shroud, top hose
- top up coolant
- vent air (bolt top of thermostat housing see photo below)
- start up, checking for leaks/belt squeal adjust as needed
- after a good run re-check coolant level and bolts are tight

Air Conditioning Tension Pulley and Dustshield
Due to lousy design the ac tensioning pulley also requires a dust shield (probably because Denso provided the part and the standard mitisi 14mm nut would not fit). When I removed mine there was a huge amount of carp lodged behind it . Left to right Nut, pulley, and cleaned dust shield
Pajero ac pulley

Air Vent
The red arrow pointing towards the air vent plug (bolt) on top of the water pump assembly.
Pajero air vent


Free Wheeling Hubs

26 Feb 2006 - Aisin Manual Free Wheeling Hubs


The long awaited brand new Aisin manual hubs arrived yesterday, had them fitted today. Hopefully they will save wear and tear on the front axle, and will allow 3wd if a CV fails.

Chinese Pajero


During a trip to China I discovered another type of Pajero. It seems Mitisibushi has licenced the design for local manufacturing.



Offroad 20th November 2005

Actually had a quiet trip, a lot of time spent attending to fellow Pajero Exceed. Hitting a hill hard, and near full power, he managed to get a flat. Turned out that he had slammed the rear o/s alloy into a rock, and managed to put a 3inch dent destroying his 16inch alloy - quite impressive actually.

Pajero offroad 3.5 GDi

Damaged Alloy Wheel (not mine)
Dented Alloy

Garage Sale


This section has a few bits and pieces for sale:

New Car Radio Electric Aerial
Description: Brand NEW, never used, still boxed, car radio electric aerial. I brought the aerial for my previous car, but never found time to fit it. Although the box looks a little untidy, the unit inside is still new. the original price was HK$268. The wiring diagram if you need it, is on the box.

Price:: Only HK$150
Contact: 6180 8665


I have some tyres for sale too, about 80%new, will post more details later


Pajero MMCS satnav

Pajero MMCS Satellite Navigation

Direct import vehicles from Japan tease with the possibilities of factory satnav. However, as every owner discovers, the mapping only covers Japan, and the only language choice is Japanese, both useless outside Japan. After research across various international forums it seems that there is no conversion or upgrade is possible.

The Pajero MMCS comprises a dash mounted touch screen display coupled with the brain (located under the passenger seat) housing the CDROM drive.

MMCS satnav

However, it is still possible to use the system (at least here in Hong Kong) to access your position (GPS coordinates), altitude, and digital compass. I can't read Japanese either, so I learn't thorough trail and error:

- on the main screen, press the 'bottom' section of top toggle button;
- an onscreen menu appears on right hand side;
- press the touch screen green button;
- another on screen menu appears;
- press the touch screen display, selecting the "wide" middle button;

MMCS satnav

Now you have a digital compass, your GPS coordinates, external temperature, and current altitude displayed. Also a satellite icon appears indicating the number of satellites available. Not full satnav / mapping for sure but certainly better than nothing.

Fusebox Photo

Engine Bay fuse/relay Box

One annoying feature of parallel imports, all the text for the fuse/relay covers is written in Japanese! However, if you are really unlucky, all the markings have been erased as well. For example, here is the engine bay main fuse/relay box:


Engine Bay fuse/relay box - contents


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