View Full Version : Shift Linkage Rebuild DIY - LARGE

Dave M
02-23-2004, 01:56 AM
Been meaning to compile this for a while now and got the time today. I've included plenty of photos and info (likely to point of overkill), but as a wise man once said... if you don't like it, bite me.

The following is intended as a guide for those who seek to regain as much of the original shift feel as possible. I am by no means an ace mechanic, (I break a lot of stuff) and much of the procedure requires relatively basic tools and knowledge.

Hope it helps someone.


I’d lived with the slop for a while now. The vehicle has seen @300,000miles and, as one might imagine, quite a few shifts along the way. Shifting was adequate, but the annoyance factor made this job a priority. Since we needed a new exhaust and flex disk, It seemed like the right time.

Part numbers or ETK diagram numbers are provided where possible. I purchased the majority of the linkage parts are from the dealer, while bigger ticket exhaust and driveshaft components were purchased from BMA.

Exhaust Removal Notes


All of the manifold to downpipe nuts co-operated so no struggling here, just a long extension (6-8”) on a ½” drive and a regular socket. The brackets that clamp to the rear muffler were the rustiest thing I encountered and provided more of a challenge. I ordered two more and butchered the old ones to expedite removal. Again, instead of wraslin with the rubber hangers, I quickly cut them with my trusty dremel tool and lowered the exhaust. Depending on your set-up, it might be wise to separate the exhaust pieces prior to removal to ease managing them under the car (read heavy).

Regardless of whether major exhaust components are being replaced, plan to purchase the following;
- All four rubber hangers (2 x # 18 21 1 712 838) (2 x # 18 21 1 105 638)
- Two goldy-brassy looking rear muffler clamps, 3 pieces each (2 x # 18 21 1 178 343 - 2 x 18 21 1 178 340 - 2 x 07 11 9 927 022 ).
- Manifold to downpipe nuts (6 x #1 737 774) and Gaskets (2 x #1 716 888).

You may also want to replace the exhaust clamps if your system is not welded and, of course, inspect mufflers/cat/welds/clamps for weak spots and holes.
Oh yeah, great chance to easily change your O2 sensor (Universal type requiring wire splicing, which I had a pro solder for $20 – BMA # 15716)

Driveshaft Removal Notes


Remove the rear transmission support to gain better access to the driveshaft to flex disk and flex disk to transmission output flange (behind flex disk) bolts (19mm). 13mm socket for all trans support hardware. The 2 inner nuts on the rear trans support are attached to rear transmission rubber mounts and can be a bit of a pain to turn as the rubber may want to twist along with the bolt.

Mark the driveshaft flange and trans output flange with paint or scribe to ensure you install the assembly the same way. My 91 525im had all the bolt heads facing toward the rear of the vehicle. The ETK illustrates the three bolts from the transmission output flange to flex disk mounted with heads toward the front end. Also, the three bolts from driveshaft to flex disk are shown with ‘spacers’ on the bolt head side. Not sure what the purpose is, but everything seemed to work fine as shown above and I figured one shouldn’t fix something if it ain’t broke. I have seen photos of e34s with all three bolts facing the same direction and heard others on the board mention it as well. Maybe someone else can enlighten us.


With the vehicle securely mounted and rear tranny support removed, a 19mm socket with breaker bar and 19mm open end wrench was adequate to free all six bolts without hassle.


Shown above is the driveshaft (flex disk still attached) removed from the tranny output flange. Note the amount of paint required to mark the position of driveshaft to tranny output flange, make sure you have a few cans available. Since you’ll spin the driveshaft without it attached to the tranny (in gear), break all bolts prior to removing the driveshaft. Once broken, I carefully bent the driveshaft to the side of the vehicle and removed the driveshaft to flex disk bolts in a more comfortable position. Purchase, at minimum, new lock nuts for all six driveshaft/flex disk/tranny output bolts (Nut PN 07-12-9-900-047) (Bolt PN 26-11-1-227-659).


Once the heat shielding is removed, remove the two nuts (13mm) holding the center bearing and integral bracket to the body, then carefully lower the driveshaft. Upon re-installation, remember to pre-load the bearing by sliding the bracket forward 4-6mm from its ‘neutral’ hanging position prior to fastening. My center bearing was relatively new, so I didn’t replace it. Check yours and replace if necessary (@ $35 from BMA).


Flex disk (guibo) showing cracks. $35 from BMA (Item # 26 11 1 209 168).

Linkage Parts

So we’re here, the hardest part was making sure I had all the necessary parts. There were a few different parts list floating around when I did this job (thanks all), but I found myself lacking a couple of items when it came time to put it all back together. The ETK shown below also needs a little explanation (my interpretation). Washers/Spacers #12 and 15 appear the same, so I ordered 4 x #12s When I ordered #14 from a dealer in Calgary, AB and it included #’s 18, 19 and 20. I didn’t, but you may as well get new C-clips while you’re at it (#13,17 - looked the same to me). This stage should only take an hour or two if you’re prepared.

Give the shift rod a shake before you begin removing parts to try to determine where the majority of the play in your linkage lies. You should notice a huge difference when you’re done the project.
Parts indicated to the right with a red ‘circle’ are essential. Numbers 14 and 4 are likely responsible for most of the excess play, while a combination of # 7, 2 and the four yellow plastic washers (#’s 12 and 15) take up the remainder. Take at look at the ‘lubricating felt’ (# 20) when # 14 is removed to see what years of shifting does. I wish I’d taken a photo before discarding it as only faint traces remained. Green circles are more expensive components that aren’t necessary, but may provide a marginal improvement or, with regard to #6, a shorter throw. I replaced my stock shift lever with that from an e36 M3. I don’t recall exactly, but I believe I spent well over $100 Can on the parts, not including the $80 e36 M3 shift lever. Oh yeah, why not get a new shift knob if yours happens to look its age.



Parts list

#6 (optional, e36 M3, PN 25 11 1 222 955), ask around for other options, someone has a pic with PNs.
#11 (relatively expensive, may provide marginal improvement)
#12 x 4 (same as #15?)
#13 x 2 (appeared the same as #17 although ETK pic looks different)
#14 (included #s 18, 19, 20)

Linkage Removal

A series of photos in no particular order, just because.





Yeah, I’m a tad impatient and I did in fact sever my stock shift lever to remove the shift rod (#11). This is what happens when you have an M3 lever sitting within reach. It was a little sticky, but of course, this allowed me to rule out any excessive play in the shift rod and eliminate it as a big contributor.
A normal person with patience will be able to remove all these components without destroying them in approximately 1 hour. UUC has a PDF, but their B!atch clip instruct is not ideal.

1) Remove shift nob and other in-car stuff to expose the shift lever
2) Put the shift lever in reverse (improves access)
3) Remove the C-clips and wiggle/push the shift rod out at both ends (or cut if frozen)
4) Remove bearing bracket (#4)
5) Remove plastic mount (#7) and shift lever with needle nose pliers by turning and pushing up from below
6) Of course, dremell off the old spring sleeve (#19), from the T-joint - much easier than prying.
7) Remove pin and remove shift rod joint (T-joint, #14)

Da B!atch Clip (ask for it by name)


So now that everything is removed but the shift console (#1), its time to remove/replace the ‘bearing shaft’ (#3) and ‘bearing sleeve’ (#2). I was able to do this without lowering the tranny any further (may depend on tranny). The above is what you’ll see when you awkwardly jam your head as far up as possible. Hmm, not much. The arrow indicates the shaft.


This is your goal! The UUC guide shows the same clip position, but the wimps removed the tranny. It takes a true idiot to force a digital camera into a space that small.


And this is how to do it (at least one way). I used a small diameter @10” screwdriver and somewhat blindly started prying against the side of the clip until it popped up. It might feel as though you’re making little headway, but as someone else said on this same subject. If at first you don’t succeed, pry,pry again.


When its out, you’ll see how its held in place. There is a little tab on the tranny that hooks a tab on the clip. Mine didn’t break when I removed it first time. However, since I forgot to take a photo, I put it back on (too far), removed it again, and broke it. So get a new one.


Just for fun, a comparison of the new (left) and old bearing sleeve (#2). Diameter differed a tiny bit, but every little bit might just count.


Lubricate everything EXCEPT the lubricating felt in the T-joint (go figure). I was told by someone else on this forum (thanks for the heads up) that grease will deteriorate the felt (a lithium based grease was used where I did lubricate). Re-installation is the reverse of removal, but inserting the pin (18) into the new T-joint wasn’t as easy as I thought and required the use of pliers. I was, however, able to squeeze a new yellow washer on both sides of the shift lever and T-joint where only one was removed.


While you’re under there and have a bit more room to move, its a great time to change tranny and differential fluids, differential output flange nuts (PN 07-12-9-964-672) and associated seals.

Time for suspension, thrust arms, steering play, hoses, belts, ......

Good Luck and thanks for all the help,

02-23-2004, 07:25 AM
Fabulous posting... hope it ends up on a website?

02-23-2004, 09:57 AM
i noticed a small error, that's a fuking biach clip, a small screwdriver or even better a pick is about the only way to get it off without breaking it, most people break their first one

Dave M
02-23-2004, 10:22 AM
Maybe Ed could Archive it??

Fabulous posting... hope it ends up on a website?

02-23-2004, 12:10 PM
that's a sweet post, sticky this =]
what was the final cost of the rebuild?
jw, cuz i recently dropped $300 on a UUC

you did mention, well over 100 canadian plus 80 for
the shorter m3 lever...? do u have the exact total
by any chance?

02-23-2004, 12:27 PM
Sweet! Now that's what I am talking about! Lots of photos and details. I just wish I had a manual trans so that I could do experience it. Excellent Job!

02-23-2004, 12:32 PM
I'm in awe! That was a GREAT posting! I drive an auto, but very educating!

02-23-2004, 02:56 PM
If you don't mind I will take some of the pics and place yoru procedure on the website

Dave M
02-23-2004, 08:58 PM
If you don't mind I will take some of the pics and place yoru procedure on the website

Dave M
02-23-2004, 09:35 PM
The big tickets are;

T-junction (#14)- @ $45 Can.
Bearing Bracket (#4) - @ $40
Shift Rod (#11) - not as important - @ $45
M Shift lever - @ 80-85 Can, I've seen @$50 US.

The rest
#s 2, 3 and 7 were in the range of $10-20 Can each = @ $45
washers (12) and lock nut (#5) - few dollars
Driveshaft locknuts - guessing at $2 each x 6 = $12

Maybe need

Guibo - $35 US (@$50 Can)- BMA
Center Bearing - $35 US - BMA
Assorted muffler hangers (@$8 x 4) and clamps (@$30) = $65 Can

So, I'd venture @ 295 Can for the linkage related parts, driveshaft locknuts and exhaust clamps etc. (Includes M shift lever).

All included = @ $ 380 Can. but you get a new guibo and center bearing out of it.

So I was probably quoting the cost of the linkage parts without exhaust, driveshaft stuff in my write-up. It sounds similar to your UUC, but you may get more out of it,

let us know,

Dave M

that's a sweet post, sticky this =]
what was the final cost of the rebuild?
jw, cuz i recently dropped $300 on a UUC

you did mention, well over 100 canadian plus 80 for
the shorter m3 lever...? do u have the exact total
by any chance?

Jeff N.
02-24-2004, 01:24 AM
Here you go.

Before and after shifter cup.


Before and after rear support.


Before and after T with pad.


Rebuilt shifter unit ready to go back in the car....


New shifter from the top.


Tada! All installed!


03-01-2004, 03:31 PM
Thanks for sharing Dave. Nice to see what it is you are always up to!