How to Adjust the Shift Linkage On an Automatic Transmission

Tired of hearing whining, buzzing or humming noise that comes from your car? Do you notice the delay responding time of your car transmission? If yes, then you need to focus on the shift linkage of your car.

You will need to concern and diagnose the trouble as soon as you can. It will be harmful for your car’s transmission.

We are tried to cover all types of information you need for adjusting the shift linkage on an automatic transmission. The actual process of adjustment differs with the variety of transmission. Our guides will be helpful for the 1985-95 car owners. These car models have automatic shift linkage.

Keep in mind that various types of methods are available but we recommend this below method that works well for us.

automatic transmission faults


What is Shift Linkage Brushing?

The shift linkage point out to the cables that attach the gearshift to the transmission. You need to maintain shift linkage in the proper condition for smooth and active shifting always.

Every time when you service your car’s transmission, also checkup the shift linkage bushing.

Linkage components keep safe for this shift linkage bushing. This also gives a bearing exterior for some moving parts of your car.

If it will get broken down or damaged, you will need to restore another one. It will improve the shifter function performance.

Products You will Need to Apply:

Adjusting Shift Linkage Process:

Every automatic transmission has the matching shift linkage. Different cars have the different shift linkage among the transmission and the cabin. But the function is same for all vehicles.

There are a column shift along with a floor shift which are engaged by a cable. Most of the time adjusting shift linkage is enough for solving the transmissions problems.

Follow these 3 easy steps to adjust the shift linkage.

Step 1: Length Adjustment

Length Adjustment


Actually length adjustment is quite straight-forward task. Here are the simple steps to adjust the length of the shift linkage:

  • At first place the transmission in a neutral position and using the adjustment nuts adjust the portion of the shift tube.  You will find this at the middle of the shift tube set.
  • To get the proper length, screw in and out on the adjustment threads.
  • Important part is that the shift tube is attuned, so the shift socket position is in the middle of the mounting hole when you connect the shift tube to the transaxle shaft by the use of tightened set-bolts.
  • When you adjust the length properly, do not try to tighten the jam nut of the shift tube.
  • Next step is set up the cockpit shifter mechanism. You also notice a small slope on the mounting holes of the stick shift base. The chassis shifter goes up at the neutral position of the fine-tuning bolts when you bolt the shifter base down. This will create an opportunity if you required fine tuning, front to back.
  • When the shifter base is tightened and installed, you need to adjust the shift tube clocking. It will be quite tricky if you don’t know properly.
  • Then trace the first gear. Make tighter the shift tube adjustment nut temporarily if you think it is still loose. Then use the stick shift for positioning your car in gear. You will be in the first or third gear if you don’t clocked the shift tube.
  • To get the first gear you need to take various attempt of loosening along with tightening the shift shaft adjustment nut, moving your shift tube clocking to obtain the first gear.

Step 2: Shift Shaft Clocking

Shift Shaft Clocking


After possess the transaxle in the first gear, just make fine tune clocking of the shift shaft. This is the final adjustment.  The fine tuning prepares your shifter to do the task smoothly and perfectly shifting in every gear.

For the accurate adjustment you need patience and a helper. Consistently you need to do a slight trial and error adjustment.

Here’s is the procedure that works for us:

  • While the transaxle is situated in the first gear, just loose the shift shaft adjustment nut.
  • Firstly, push frontward the stick shift lever. Then turn left such as you hold it securely in the first gear.  Also, you can request somebody to hold it tightly for you.
  • When the position of your shifter is still in the 1 st gear, use your two wrenches to tighten the shift tube jam nuts. One wrench will maintain the back part of the shift shaft stable. The other will make tighter the jam nut on the front sector of the shaft.

adjust control linkage


  • When tightening the nut with your wrench, ensure you don’t torque the rear section of your shift tube on the transaxle. Assure the rear section of the shaft is held through a wrench to stop torque to the rear tube.

Step 3: Checking for Gears

check for gears

After doing the above steps perfectly, checkup for all gears to ensure they will be found. For finding the gears don’t make any force to the shifter. Push in the clutch to simply find it.

You need to do the reverse test if you found all gears when your engine is off. Maximum shifters contain a reverse lockout lever to avoid accidental reverse shifts. So, don’t worry.

  • Pick the reverse lockout and locate the transmission in reverse and then analysis. You are doing well, if you have the reverse.
  • Now it’s time to drive the car to check all gears. In any case, if you don’t find all gears then verify again all steps above and do it again. Already mentioned, you will require a tryout and error.
  • Don’t be upset. Most of the people can’t do this correctly on their first time. Having patience is the best key for adjusting the shift linkage. For the next time, it will be quite simple for you, when you absorb the total process correctly.

You can also check this video for more information.

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Final Verdict

Appropriate shift linkage adjustment beside with the transmission range sensor is vital.  If you can’t adjust properly, then your car will not start.

Also, inappropriate adjustment causes various complications to transmission like as shaking, grinding and strange noise transmission, clutch leakage issue, various fluids problem and many others.

If you observe these types of problems, at first confirm the shift linkage of your car. Ensure what you will need to do; replacement or simple adjustment is enough.

Hope you will do well by our how to adjust the shift linkage on an automatic transmission guide.

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