Shifter linkage reinforcement/fix

So here’s the deal. I fixed my linkage without worry of having more issues in the future. I was able to reinforce it with stainless steel washers. I’m thinking that there should be someone out there to fabricate some metal bushings or machine something to stick in the linkage to fix this permanently because the ford bushings that are in it stock eventually go to crap, wear, tear, compress and go out, causing this issue.

If you feel a ton of slack in your shifter, have the ES stabilizer bushings and it’s shifting and giving you grief, this is likely the culprit.

Here’s a visual of kind of an idea of how the linkage is put together. Black would be going to your shifter, and at the very end of this linkage is a place that hooks onto the end linkage that actually shifts you into gear going into the transmission.

You’ll recognize the end sort of, and this is not really 100% how it looks, but really the part where it connects your end linkage to this piece is what we are looking at, because this is the issue.

The blue rod represents the piece that shifts you into gear that attaches into the tranny. The red pieces are the OEM ford bushings. The black piece represents your shifter linkage. Gold is the bolt on the top.

What happens over time is these little bushings compress, get smaller, crack, break, get brittle and go bad. The issue here in mine after having a short throw shifter installed is that the bottom bushing had this issue, causing a spacing issue. Compare it like this…

When the bushings are there, solid as a rock.

As they wear out, we get space, represented by the raw bolt you can see…

Then we have the ability for the linkage to move up and down…

And due to this we get this VERY SMALL amount of play here at the linkage… I made the linkage invisible so you can see the rest of it… and the lines represent the super small amount of play back and forth.

At the linkage level, this is small. At the base of the shifter this is HUGE. The play you get when the shifter is in gear is noticeable. And if you go to the actual rod on the linkage you can quite literally move it back and forth with your hands and feel it. When it’s solid you can barely move it.

My fix was literally stainless steel washers. Now i know this seems like a lot to do for linkage fix with the 3D renderings and all… But i wanted to show WHY it’s okay to fix it this way and WHY you get play in the linkage because of this. It seems like a small thing… but your transmission will thank you later for fixing it. I know some of you are VERY visual learners so i hope this helps.

If you want to further stabilize your shifter and make sure it’s solid and last longer, get the energy suspension bushing kit for the stabilizer bushings, HUGE difference, take the slop outa that sucker!

Very nice post!!

Thanks for the info and post!!!

Derek, you know I love you right??


Great post and visuals. at first I didn’t get where you were talking about, but as I read it all started to make sense. i’ll have to check that this spring.

On day 2 of driving it this way… so far my 2nd and 3rd gear oddities seem resolved…

Keep in mind i’m on a 130k+ mile tranny though too so my shifts are only gonna get worse with time but they are night and DAY after this.

I will keep you all updated on how well it seems to have helped week after week to ensure it’s working as planned :slight_smile:

Day 4.

3rd gear hasn’t acted up once. 1st to 2nd is smooth again… 3rd to 4th is awesome and 4th to 5th is smooth as always.

I will update again in a week in case any issues arise. Thus far… this appears to be the fix :slight_smile:

I also wonder if perhaps our trannies aren’t crap, but perhaps small issues like this end up causing the longterm angst on our trannies that cause them early retirement? I guess i’ll find out thousands of miles from now :slight_smile:

very nice for a cheap and efficient fix :sunglasses:
I lucked up on getting some used corksport bushings for these, but they’re like $35 for 4 new

now the 25th of february, been several weeks and the car has shifted consistently, smoothly and quite well. I am happy with the results and will see if i can find a way to fabricate something as a permanent solution as the top bushing WILL eventually go too… the bottom bushing seems to be what was worn, the top one looked okay. But I’m wondering if i can measure the dimensions and try some more things.

I’ll update it when i get time.

But for anyone who is having “shifting issues” check out your linkage. I’m willing to bet this is the possible killer of many trannies over time and given some early retirement…

Nice write up and pics man.



Going to jack it up again sometime this weekend and make sure that it is holding properly and make sure the play has remained the same. Still feels good, but want to make sure it’s holding up and not putting any stress on the other bushing.

Since the original posting of this how to, the car has been great. I did, however, the other day twist an engine mount and it ripped. I replaced it with an Energy Suspension insert, so now i am running ES Motormount inserts in both front and rear engine mounts.

Now, while I was under there I checked the linkage after i reinforced it with the washers as listed above, except i removed the 2 washers on the bottom, left one washer on the bottom, and used a thicker washer up above, there is now no play in the linkage.

With the above fix and motormounts the car is shifting BETTER than it ever has.

The downside is that the vibration felt through the wheel and shifter from stiffening up the motormounts is REALLY noticeable. but the car feels a lot more ballsy and solid now.

Es makes great products but they do tighten up everything. Great to hear its all going well.