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Shift Selector Cable Replacement

This is the Cable That Selects the Gears in your Car

There is a variety of components involved when your car shifts gears. One of those components that makes it all possible is the shift selector cable. If you were unaware that this cable existed, you are not alone. The shift selector cable is a relatively discreet car component. But the job it performs is immensely important.

Keep on reading to learn about the shift selector cable. And what to look out for in regard to maintenance of the selector cable.

What is a Shift Selector Cable?

The name pretty much explains it all. The shift selector cable is a steel cable, protected by plastic housing. The shift selector cable connects the gear shifter itself, to the automatic transmission.

On each end of the cable are rubber or nylon bushings that help cable movement and dampen vibration. The selector cable is sometimes adjustable. And will normally stretch after extended usage.

When to Replace the Shift Selector Cable

You need to consider scheduling your car for maintenance if any of the following things occur:

  • The shift indicator on your shift or dashboard does not match the actual gear: when the shifter cable stretches too much, it may result in the car being in a gear that you did not select yourself.
  • Unable to remove the key from the ignition: if the shifter cable breaks, you will be unable to put the car in park. When this occurs you will be unable to remove the key from the ignition.
  • No ability to shift gears: if the shifter cable reeks, your car will lose all ability to shift gears

Other signs of a worn-out selector cable are:

  • Obvious signs of corrosion or rust
  • Slippage of the plastic housing
  • Cracks, rips, or tears in the housing

How to Fix a Shift Selector Cable

If you begin to experience the problems from above, it may be time to schedule maintenance. If the mechanic believes that the issues are related to the shifter cable, the first thing they will do is determine if the issue can be fixed with the maintenance of the cable bushings, or if a complete replacement is necessary.

Sometimes, the issues that arise from a worn-out selector cable are to be fixed without replacing it. This is especially true for cables that are adjustable. A small adjustment should help the cable function properly again.

Other times, replacing the bushings is all it takes to make the shift selector cable operate correctly.

However, should the cable could be in a condition that requires a complete replacement, extra steps are included:

  1. The selector cable is detached from both the shifter and the transmission
  2. A brand-new cable is routed and new bushings are installed
  3. In the case of mechanically connected selector cable systems, an extra nut and bolt are tightened onto the new cable to connect the shifter and the transmission
  4. The new shift selector cable is tested for proper operation
  5. The vehicle is test-driven

What To Do If You Cannot Shift Into Park

A completely broken shift selector cable is a serious safety hazard. In this case, you may not be able to put the vehicle in park.

If you are experiencing this, we recommend you follow these steps:

  1. Leave the car where it is
  2. Apply the emergency brake
  3. Block the wheels with rocks, cinder blocks, or other heavy objects
  4. Call a tow service
  5. Schedule shift selector cable repair

Reach Out for Help

If you enjoyed this article, learned something new, or have additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

We love talking about cars and are here to help with any sort of automotive curiosities you might have.

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Shift Selector Cable