924/944 sloppy shift lever repair


Copyright by W B Noble 2006 you may reproduce freely for non-commercial  purposes, for permission to republish commercially, please contact me.

If your shift lever has a lot of slop in it, the usual cause is wear in a pin and socket right at the lever itself. After changing this part a few times and not being satisfied, I've devleoped the following procedure that works very well and is a heck of a lot cheaper than replacing parts:


tools - 7/16 drill bit (longer is better) and a drill to turn it with 7/16 fine tap and tap handle small screw driver, wrench, red locktite large channel locks

parts - 7/16 "shoulder bolt" with a 1 inch shoulder, fine thread, thin "jam nut" with same thread, two thin washers with 7/16 hole - a "wavy washer" or spring washer would be good, but any will do, grease

Procedure - Remove shift knob and boot by unclipping the leather boot from the hole, lifting the rubber inner liner and removing the steel clip that holds the knob in place Remove "C" clip that holds shifter rod (painted black) to the cadmium plated shift lever. remove washer, disconnect rod from the shift lever Unscrew two hex bolts holding shift lever to torque tube housing (13mm socket wrench with extension) - don't loose the bolts. Lift shift lever out of car. Observe that the shaft that extends perpendicular to the lever is heavily worn - I've seen over 3/16 of wear on this shaft - this is why the shift linkage is loose.
This is an example of a badly worn shaft  - notice the barrel shape and how much thinner it is than the head of the shaft.  On the right you can see the grove that the "C" clip goes into.  Original diameter was 10 mm, the most worn section is about 8 mm (and not particularly round).  Length is 36mm, the length of the part that is inside the shifter rod is as close as I could measure it 25.5 mm (or 1 inch)
Take the lever to your bench grinder and grind on the weld that holds the shaft in place - don't grind any more than you have to, and quench the metal periodically so it doesn't overheat. The idea is to grind the weld aproximately flush with the metal bar so you can tap the shaft out with a drift punch. Tap the shaft out with a drift punch. The shaft is 10mm in diameter (you don't need to know this, I just thought I'd toss in that gratuitous piece of information) While you could replace the shaft with another 10mm shaft, this will still leave the shift sloppy feeling because the bore in the end of the shifter rod is also worn. So, instead, we will go to a larger size - 7/16 is just about the right amount larger than 10mm, so that is the choice. Thread the 10mm hole using your 7/16 fine tap. Test it by threading the bolt into the hole. Go to the car, with the 7/16 drill bit. Use a large channel locks (a friend is very handy here) to lift and twist the shift rod so you have a straight shot at the hole, and CAREFULLY drill the hole with the 7/16 drill - don't wobble the drill, or rock it - be sure you drill straight - you want a straight, smooth hole. The drill will drill a thousandth or two oversize (that's what drills do), so you will have a nice slip fit for your shoulder bolt. Oh, you are wondering what a shoulder bolt is - this is a bolt that is threaded part way, and has a smooth section the rest of the way. You need to get a shoulder bolt where the shoulder section is about the same length as the width of the hole through the shift rod - e.g. about an inch (measure your rod first). Check the fit of the shoulder bolt into the hole you just drilled - it should be a smooth fit, you shouldn't have to press hard to make it slide in and it should rotate freely and not have any noticable play. If it is too tight, you can enlarge the hole with sand paper (or if you have a reamer, ream it to .001 oversize). You can also shrink the bolt diameter with a file and then polish with sandpaper. you want a sliding fit, not a press fit.

Ok, now it fits right, just reassemble everything:

Put a thin washer on the bolt, grease the bolt and the hole with a good grade of grease, insert the bolt through the hole, put on the other thin washer Put several drops of Locktite on the threads of the bolt and a drop onto the threads in the shift lever. Carefully thread the bolt into the threaded hole in the shift lever. Snug it down until it just touches the washers then tighten or loosen about 1/10 turn to get the "feel" of the shift to be smooth and not binding. Hold the bolt with a wrench and screw on and tighten the jam nut (there should be locktite on the threads already, if not, put some on the jam nut or the bolt). Re-test that the lever moves smoothly. Reinstall the two bolts that hold the assembly to the torque tube. Adjust so the shift lever in neutral is close to vertical and snug them down (don't foret the washers). Reinstall the shift knob, and inner and outer boots and you are done. You and your car will be happy, it will feel like a new car (at least as far as shifting goes)


updated 07/14/2021