Replacing a Vehicle's Shift Cables
It's relatively easy to replace broken shift cables on a vehicle. It simply connects from the shifter to the transmission shifting arm with a cable that is anchored in two spots for stabilization. The anchor points keep the cable sleeve from moving and allows the shifter to move the cable inside the sleeve while shifting which then adjusts what gear the control arm moves to, first gear, second gear, third gear, and so on. When this cable breaks, or the mounts snap from excess pressure, the shifter is rendered inoperable, and your vehicle will not switch gears as normal.
Step 1 - Disconnect the Cable from the Shifter
Lift the edge of the rubber boot that covers the base of your shifter. You will see where the shift cable connects to the base of your shifting arm. There should be one nut here holding the end in place, and an anchor mounting close by that locks the sleeve from moving. On some car models, you may have to remove the center console to get to the mechanics, just remember how you take it off, so it can be reattached to the vehicle properly when you're done. Remove the securing nut, and then slide the sleeve out of the anchor, you may have to move the shifter a bit to get them to come loose.
Step 2 - Disconnect the Cable from the Engines Control Arm
Inside the engine compartment, generally on the side of the engine, you should see where the shift cables connect to the transmission shifting arm. Remove the nut that holds the cable into place and slide the cables sleeve out of its anchoring just as you did on the shifter. Make sure that the damage is something in the cable and not a broken anchor arm. If it is an anchor that is broken, this is the actual problem, not the cable itself. If an anchor is snapped, bent, or broken, you may have to weld a new one in its place. In some vehicles, this anchor is simply bolted to the frame and can be replaced by ordering a part from a local car parts store.
Step 3 - Connect the New Cable
Once you know your 2 anchoring points are good and have removed the broken shift cables, reverse the process and reconnect the new cable into the vehicle. Start at the shifter and slide the sleeve into place on its anchor. Then move the shifter into place so that it fits back over the bolt on the shifter, and re-secure the nut to lock it into place. Replace the shifter boot or console and move to the engine compartment to finish the job. Connect the sleeve of the shift cables onto the anchor near the engine, and then bolt it into position on the shifting arm.
Step 4 - Check for Functionality
Test your shift cables by moving through the gears. Be sure that the cable is hitting the gears correctly before taking it for a test drive. It should be back to normal once you are finished.