If you’re always on the move, you deserve a daily drive that is hassle-free. Regular car maintenance is critical for this. Although, it can be challenging for the average person to keep up with exactly what their car needs. Different parts withstand wear and tear at varying rates and need to be replaced at different times.
What is the Car Shift Cable?
Skip to the good stuff:
- What is the Car Shift Cable?
- Cost to Replace a Shift Cable for Specific Vehicles
- How Long Does It Take to Replace a Shift Cable?
- Symptoms of a Bad Shift Cable
- How Long Does a Shift Cable Last?
- What Causes a Shift Cable to Go Bad?
The shift cable is a stiff metal cord that connects the driver’s gear shift lever and the manual transmission (or automatic transmission) inside the car. When you shift your car into reverse, the shift selector cable tells the transmission shift lever at the other end the same thing. You can then safely back out of your parking spot and start the process again with another shift to drive.
The shifter cable usually has an outer shell that acts as protection from some of the outside elements and linkage bushing to help connect it to the transmission linkage. Other issues related to these parts may also arise or be related to the shifter cable breakdown.
Cost to Replace a Shift Cable for Specific Vehicles
Specific vehicles will have different costs when looking at replacing the shift cable. Depending on the age, make, model, and issue that the car presents, the fees may be lower or higher. Below we have included some popular vehicles to give you an idea of what your shift cable replacement costs may be.
How Long Does It Take to Replace a Shift Cable?
The time it takes to replace a shift cable will vary across car make and model. On average, the shifter cable takes 1.5-2 hours to install.
If the whole cable does not need to be replaced, other repairs on the same part may take less time to complete.
Symptoms of a Bad Shift Cable
You may see symptoms of a bad shift cable in various ways while you’re driving. Take these as warning signs to get your shifter cable looked at as soon as possible.
Damaged Shifter Cable
First, if you turn your gear selector switch but your automatic transmission doesn’t respond, then there is a problem with the shift cable connection. This may be on either end of the cable or because of a broken cable. Since you won’t be able to shift gears to drive, this is an urgent issue to take care of.
Note: this could also be caused by a malfunctioning shift lock release
Stretched Cable Movement
Maybe the automatic transmission does have a response, but it is slow or inaccurate when indicating the gear shift. This may be due to stretching in the cable, which means it should be adjusted or replaced if on the verge of snapping. When this happens, your shift lever wont be able to cycle between Forward and Reverse gear.
Other symptoms may come in the form of a buzzing noise or burning smell. While in a vehicle, this may mean many different things; either one could be a broken shifter cable. It may be so stretched or worn-out on the plastic outer shell, or the inner metal tube or bushing could sustain damage.
While not directly caused by broken shifter cables, you might notice similar symptoms listed above if you’re low on automatic transmission fluid (ATF). Always check that your fluid levels are topped off.
Check Engine Light
If the CEL is lit up on your dashboard, consider hooking up an OBD2 scanner that reads transmission codes.
How Long Does a Shift Cable Last?
A gear shift selector cable’s lifespan is going to depend on many factors including:
- Type of car
- Driver’s experience
- Environmental conditions
- Automatic or Manual transmission
Depending on the driving style, amount of stress that the manual transmission takes, and mileage on the vehicle, a shifter cable can last 20+ years. Unless there is another event that causes a malfunction, you can expect yours to last at least within that range.
That’s right, this part is made to last!
What Causes a Shift Cable to Go Bad?
The transmission shift cable is built to be protected. It has a layer around the metal cable to shield it from the elements and strengthen it. Over time this may become worn and cause the shifter cable to go bad. This prevents you from moving the shift lever to Drive or Reverse.
If you are doing lots of driving and shifting from gear to gear quickly, this will speed up your shift cable’s breakdown and reduce its efficiency. The overuse can also cause the cable to stretch out before breaking or snapping entirely.
The plastic connectors that link the shift selector may also take some wear and tear. Since they are often made of plastic, they may become brittle and break. This can weaken your cable or cause other issues that lead to a necessary shifter cable replacement.
Hopefully this helped you learn more about the gear shift cable replacement cost and look out for the key symptoms that show how weathered it may be.
Transmission issues, problems with shifting gears, unusual noises, and bad smells should make you stop and consider if your transmission shift cable may need to be replaced.
Avoiding stress on your gear shifter can help you prevent problems, though. With preventative practices in mind, you may be able to avoid high shift cable replacement costs, at least for a while!
Featured Image from Summit – B&M Shift Cable