Tech Article – Shift lever and shift rod – removal and installation
Make sure you obtain the correct replacement part if you re replacing the shift lever.
On vehicles produced before August 1967, the lever is straight; it s curved on later models.
Don’t try to swap levers from one model to another unless they re identical.
The lever on 1973 and later models is about 1-1/2 inches shorter than those on earlier models.
Mark the position of the stop plate in relation to the ball housing after pulling back the floor mat and putting the shift lever in Neutral.
This will ensure proper alignment during installation.
Caution: Incorrect adjustment of the stop plate in the shift lever assembly can cause shifting problems.
Parts you might need – link to category Shift Rods and Parts
Take off the mounting bolts from the ball housing flange.
Take off the shift lever, ball housing, rubber boot and spring as a single unit.
Note the orientation of the raised tab(s) on the stop plate before removing the stop plate.
Some stop plates have a single tab on the right side of the hole which faces up; other plates have two tabs facing up, with the long, low narrow tab near the driver and the shorter higher tab on the right. The important thing to remember is that the stop plate must be reinstalled with the tab(s) oriented exactly the same way they were before removal, regardless of the design.
Clean all of the parts completely.
Look over the shift lever collar, stop plate and shift lever ball socket in the shift rod for wear. Replace any worn parts.
Make sure the shift lever locating pin is secure. Check the spring in the steel ball for tension. Replace it if it s worn.
Install the stop plate. Make sure it s oriented with the tab(s) facing the same way as before removal.
Lubricate all moving parts with multipurpose grease.
Inspect the condition of the rubber boot. Replace it if it s damaged.
Install the shift lever assembly (lever, ball housing and spring). Make sure the shift lever locating pin engages the slot in the ball socket and the stop plate seats in the hollow central part of the ball housing. If the lever is installed and seated properly, it will be vertical when it s in Neutral.
Install the ball housing flange bolts loosely. Match up the alignment marks on the flange, stop plate and tunnel and tighten the bolts securely.
Check the position of the shift lever by engaging the gears again.
Re-adjust as necessary.
Note: Make sure the replacement is the same length as the original, if you re replacing a shift rod – the rod on later models is shortened to fit the relocated mounting bracket for the guide bushing in the frame tunnel.
Remove the shift lever assembly.
Now take out the rear seat.
Remove the inspection cover on the frame tunnel.
Remove the fasteners from the shift rod coupling.
Take out the front bumper.
Remove the access cover in the frame head and in the front body apron.
Use a pair of pliers to separate the shift rod from the coupling and slide it through the shift rod guide bushing while working through the hole in the frame tunnel. If the grease on the shift rod – or the bushing itself – is dry, you may encounter some resistance.
Pull the shift rod forward, through the tunnel and out the hole while working through the hole in the frame head.
Look over the shift rod for distortion. Replace it if it s warped or damaged (a bent shift rod can cause hard shifting and/or the loss of first and third gear).
Look over the shift rod guide bushing for dryness, cracking or other damage. Replace it if needed. To remove the old bushing, you ll need to pull it – and the wire ring – out of the shift rod guide with a pair of pliers. Slide a new wire ring onto the end of the bushing and install the bushing, slotted end first, into the shift rod guide, in order to install a new bushing.
Coat the entire shift rod with multi-purpose grease.
Insert the shift rod through the hole in the frame head, through the shift rod guide in the tunnel and push it all the way to the rear until it is totally engaged into the shift rod coupling.
Now put the frame head cover in, the access cover in the front apron and the bumper.
Install the shift rod coupling fasteners and tighten them securely. Install the inspection cover on the frame tunnel. Put in the rear seat.
Put in the shift lever assembly.
Adjust the shift lever.