The shifter, or gear stick, is an integral part of any vehicle, whether manual or automatic. However, it plays a much more important role in vehicles with manual gear shifts because of the greater level of control available. The role of the shifter is to allow the driver to select and change the vehicle's gear ratio at any time. Variations of the traditional stick shift have been used for decades in all types of vehicles. The most common location for the shifter, especially in passenger cars, is the floor of the vehicle.
Though shifters are designed to last for years, you may find yourself replacing the shifter in your vehicle sooner rather than later. Replacing standard shifters with quick or short shifters can help you get more performance from your car. Before replacing the shifter in your car, you should know what performance gains you can achieve. You should also know what types of shifters are available. Once you have selected and purchased a new shifter, you should know how to replace it in your vehicle.
Why Replace the Shifter in Your Vehicle
At first glance, it may appear that the design of the traditional shifter has not changed at all over the years. The stick and the knob are still the only major parts. However, if you are a driver who wants to get the most out of your vehicle, you should consider replacing your standard shifter with a quick or short shifter. These shifters are designed to minimise the movement required when changing gears. This allows drivers to change gears faster, reducing the time spent between gears.
Some drivers choose to replace the shifter in their car to achieve a new look. The other reason to change the shifter in your vehicle is if your shifter is damaged, or if you are restoring an older car. In cases like this, you may want a shifter that matches the original shifter.
Types of Replacement Shifters
Depending on why you are replacing the shifter in your car, you may have several types of shifters to choose from. If, for example, you are trying to shift gears faster, then you can choose from several variations of short or quick shifters for your car. If on the other hand, you just want something that looks nice, you can choose from a wide variety of shifter knobs.
Type of Shifter
Shifter is shorter than stock shifter
Reduced movement required to change gears
Driver can change gears faster
Matches original shifter in vehicle
Available in many styles and materials
Mostly for cosmetic appeal
No need to replace entire shifter
Heavy shifter knob
Provides more leverage by making the shifter top heavy
Driver can change gears faster
The terms "quick shifter" and "short shifter" are sometimes used interchangeably. However, there are cases where they can refer to slightly different ways of achieving the same end result: a smaller movement to change gears.
How Short Shifters Work
All shifters are pivoted. The part of the shifter above the pivot is topped off with a knob, and this is what the driver uses to change gears. In short shifters, the length of the shifter above the knob is reduced. This decreases the distance between the shifter knob and the pivot, meaning that a smaller movement (throw) with the short shifter results in the same amount of movement in the mechanism below the pivot.
Double Bend Short Shifters
Double bend short shifters are short shifters with two bends in the shift stick. The performance of double bend short shifters is the same as single bend short shifters. However, the extra bend in the shifter allows the knob to come closer to the driver.
Once you have decided which type of shifter, or shifter knob, to purchase, make sure you verify compatibility with your vehicle. Shifter knobs fit almost every shifter, but some short shifters may only suit certain vehicles.
Replacing the Shifter in Your Vehicle
Replacing the stock shifter in your vehicle with a short shifter is not a difficult job. It does require a certain amount of technical knowhow and confidence, but can be completed in around half an hour. However, if you have any doubts, take your car to a workshop to carry out the replacement.
Gather the Tools for the Job
The tools required to install a specific short shifter vary between models. You can use the list below as a guideline for the basic tools required to carry out the job.
Remove the Existing Shifter
The first thing to do is remove the old shifter. Start by removing the shifter knob by screwing it anticlockwise until it comes off. Then remove any trim covering the lower part of the shifter.
- Unbolt the shifter
- Remove any other fastenings, such as circlips, holding the shifter to the gearbox
The shifter can now be removed.
Move Parts from the Old Shifter to the Replacement Shifter
To prepare the new shifter for the car, all parts that connect to the car in any way must be moved from the old shifter to the new one. These include all bushings and the ball cup at the base of the shifter. Apply grease to bushings before attaching them to the replacement shifter. Ensure that parts are installed on the new shifter in the same order as the old shifter.
Install the Replacement Shifter in the Vehicle
Installing the replacement shifter is just a reversal of the removal process. Insert the ball cup into the gearbox, and replace all bolts and other fasteners. Some short shifters come with additional accessories to adjust the position of the shifter. Refer to the shifter's installation instructions to install and use these correctly. Finally, replace the trim, and screw the shifter knob back into place.
Replacing the Shifter Knob
Sometimes just changing the shifter knob can help you achieve a new look, or even more control of your vehicle's transmission. Today, drivers can choose from scores of different types of knobs for their cars. Some of them are designed to provide better feel, durability, or performance, while others are just designed to look different. It is a very simple task to replace the shifter knob. The steps below can serve as guidelines for most aftermarket shifter knobs.
- Unscrew the existing knob (rotate counterclockwise) until it comes loose
- Remove the cover from the bottom of the replacement shifter knob (if it exists)
- Place the cover on the shifter
- Choose the supplied adapter that matches the shifter, and place it on the shifter
- Use the supplied screws. and thread them slightly into the holes at the base of the shifter knob
- Align the knob correctly, and slide it over the adapter on the shifter
- Tighten the screws at the base of the shifter knob
- Screw the cover (placed on the shifter earlier) to the base of the shifter knob
Finding Replacement Shifters for Your Vehicle on eBay
If you have decided to replace the shifter, or the shifter knob, on your vehicle, you can find different types of replacements on eBay. To start looking, visit eBay's home page, and use the search bar to quickly locate items you are interested in. For example, a search for "short shifter" lists all the available short shifters on eBay. The search bar is available on other pages on the website as well. If the resulting list is too long, you can narrow it down by entering more specific keywords in the search bar.
For example, searching for "double bend short shifter" lists fewer, but more relevant results. You can further narrow down search results by choosing from various criteria including make, model, condition, and price of the replacement shifter. Before committing to a purchase, review the seller's return and exchange policy. This information can be found on the item's page. If it is not available, contact the seller directly for more information. If the seller is in the same location as you, you can arrange for a local pickup if the seller is comfortable with the arrangement.
There are several reasons for replacing the shifter in your vehicle. The most common one is for improved performance, and this can be achieved with a short or quick shifter. These shifters reduce the "throw" required to shift gears, and allow drivers to change gears faster. Sometimes shifter knobs are changed as well, either to provide a new look or for improved control. Once you know what type of shifter you are looking for, identify one that fits your vehicle.
Replacing the shifter in your car is not a difficult task. A little patience, and a basic knowledge of how to use tools are all that is required to complete the job. However, if you are not confident that you can do it yourself, get the shifter replaced at a workshop. Shifters, shifter knobs, and the tools needed to replace shifters in your vehicle can be found online on eBay.