Updated at: 17-08-2022 - By: Lucas

Shift linkage is the link between the gear lever and the transmission and can cause a variety of problems if it’s in poor shape.

We’ll go through the mechanics of the shift linkage, the indicators that it’s malfunctioning, and how to fix it in order to assist you solve your problem.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to save money on professional labor, continue reading this post!

How Does Shift Linkage Work

shift linkage

There are some of us who know a little something about transmissions who are immediately concerned if there is an issue with it.

The truth is that most transmission issues are beyond the capabilities of the average technician and require the expertise of a specialist.

A cable connects the selector lever to the transmission, so there isn’t much of a shift linkage to worry about. You may mechanically change the gearbox mode from park to reverse, neutral, and various forward driving modes by lifting the shifter.

Symptoms Of Bad Shift Linkage

shift linkage-2

Shift linkage issues can be identified by the fact that even though the transmission is not responding to your commands, it is still running properly.

1. Gear Shifting Problems

For example, when shifting gears becomes difficult, this is a sign of linkage failure. As the condition worsens, it will be more difficult to put the car in park or go into drive.

2. Mismatching Gears

Transmission gear changes may not be feasible if the cable can’t go far enough between different positions due to a faulty linkage collet or a stretched cable from years of use.

Reversing from park to reverse will not engage the reverse gear, going into neutral may still leave the vehicle in parked gear or switch it into reverse, and so forth. The problem here is that the gear you’re in doesn’t match the gear the transmission is in.

3. The Engine Won’t Turn Off

In some automobiles, you cannot turn off the vehicle until the gear changer is put to parked or neutral gear. This is a safety measure.

This is because linkage difficulties are often accompanied with gear mismatches, which makes it difficult to switch the engine off when you put your vehicle in park.

4. The Engine Won’t Start

When driving an automatic transmission vehicle, you can’t turn off the engine unless the gear selector is in park or neutral gear, which is rare, but is common in most automobiles.

This is the most difficult symptom to recognize because it would appear normal to the naked eye. A faulty fuel pump or starter may be suspected, but you can try shifting the transmission back and forth several times until it starts.

How To Fix Shift Linkage Problems

shift linkage-3

The cable length and the linkage collet are the two things we may fix at home that can create shift linkage issues.

How To Adjust Cable Length

The shift linkage cable can be lengthened or shortened with ease, however it must be done with great care. Elevate the vehicle and have a helper move gears while you’re adjusting them from the ground up.

You’ll need a few things to get started.

As of the date/time specified, prices and availability are subject to change. The purchase of this item is subject to the price and availability information published on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase.

Detailed instructions

  • Your helper should take a seat in the driver’s seat before you begin.
  • Raise the front of the vehicle on jack stands and place the wheel chocks behind the rear wheels.
  • Make sure the vehicle is securely elevated before going underneath. 
  • The helper should set the transmission into neutral while you follow the movement of the transmission bracket.
  • There’s a set of two nuts on a thread a few inches behind the bracket. Use two wrenches to tighten the nuts slightly.
  • Have the helper cycle through gears again and track the movement of the bracket.
  • If the cable is still too loose to follow the movement of the gear selector, set the selector back in neutral and repeat the process.
  • Make sure not to overtighten the cable or you may snap it or break the transmission bracket.

If you’re looking for a visual picture of what happens when you engage the gear selector lever, the following video is a good place to start.

How To Repair Shift Collet

The shift linkage in the video above does not have a large collet or heavy duty cable shrouding, therefore it is a basic design. When the collet (bushing) breaks, it creates enough of a distance between the cable and the transmission bracket that the gears don’t synchronize or the cable comes off and the transmission doesn’t move at all.

A replacement collet can’t be purchased separately; instead, a complete shift linkage system must be purchased, which can cost hundreds of dollars. Instead, we’ll assemble our own from common household items and tools.

Your arsenal must include the following items:

As of the date/time specified, prices and availability are subject to change. The purchase of this item is subject to the price and availability information published on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase.

Detailed instructions

  • Raise the front of the vehicle on jack stands and place the wheel chocks behind the rear wheels.
  • Make sure the vehicle is secure before proceeding. 
  • Take a look at the point where bracket and shift linkage connect. If the collet is worn or missing, you need a new one.
  • Measure the diameter of the linkage hole and the diameter of the bracket mount. 
  • The replacement collet is made out of a simple bushing – it’s important that it fits perfectly on the bracket mount. 
  • If the bushing is bigger than the linkage hole, trim it to size with a scalpel.
  • Place a washer on the bracket mount and apply some grease.
  • Grease the makeshift collet and place it in the shift linkage, then slide it over the bracket mount.
  • Place the second washer over the collet to secure it from falling out.
  • Use the retaining clip at the end to hold everything together.


Can automatic transmission be adjusted?

Adjusting or replacing the shift linkage can fix problems with shifting gears if the problem stems from the linkage. Only a skilled mechanic should attempt to operate on the transmission.

Does an automatic transmission have a shift linkage?

Has a linkage that connects gear lever to bracket on transmission housing? Yes, in an automatic transmission. It gives the driver the ability to control the transmission’s mode of operation.

How much does it cost to fix shift linkage?

Because repairing a shift linkage is not a difficult process, the average labor cost is only $50 to $100. The price of the shift linkage varies from $50 to $200 on its own.

What are the symptoms of a bad shift solenoid?

The indications of a faulty shift solenoid are numerous.

general shifting issues and a malfunctioning engine check-engine-light indicator.

Why is my gear shift loose?

It is referred to as shift linkage because it connects the gear shift lever to the transmission. Collet bushings are prone to breaking and cables to extending due to high mileage and frequent, violent shifting. When this occurs, the shifter is no longer connected to the transmission and is therefore unresponsive.

How much does a shifter bushing cost?

There isn’t a lot of expense in the $10 bushing between the shifter linkage and the transmission bracket. Finding a bushing that fits, on the other hand, is a challenge because most are marketed as part of a complete shift linkage assembly rather than separately.


The shift linkage repair is a straightforward procedure that requires some precision and care to get right. If you work gently and test all of the gears while keeping an eye on the transmission bracket, you should be able to get the cable tension just right.