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Old 01-04-2013, 05:15 PM   #1
6SPD_soul
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Shifter freezing up overnight-anybody have a solution?

So I'm having a new issue this winter, my shifter is freezing up overnight. The first time this happened it would only move forward/back between 3 and 4 which is the at rest position for the SVT shifter. I read about the linkages popping off from the trans housing and inspected those and they're both solidly on. Pulled off shift boot and everything looked fine there. After manually moving the shift linkages at the trans housing it began to free up, I sprayed down all the linkage points with white lithium grease and that seemed to really help actually.

I was out of town for awhile and just got back, and have found that it keeps happening overnight (usually in the teens and twenties here at night, car is parked outside), shifter is very difficult to move until the car warms up and I get the interior warmed up. I just pulled the center console and am leaving it out so I can have a good look at the shifter and cables next time it freezes up, likely tomorrow morning. I'm thinking the problem is inside the car since it seems totally dependent on how warm the interior is. I know the engine heat would to some extent warm the cables near the transmission, but with the air movement there I don't see that as likely.

Anybody go through this and find anything to fix? Are new shift cables the only real solution to this, and how difficult are they to install?

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Old 01-04-2013, 08:38 PM   #2
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I have the same issue, and I just saw another thread in the same subject earlier this week. It's a pretty common problem. Ive heard that it's not as bad with Motorcraft clutch fluid, but I haven't tested it.
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:43 PM   #3
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Try changing the trans fluid with some fresh Ford Honey or some other synthetic tranny fluid. Most are hard to shift when cold but once they warm up are fine. This was a very common problem on the MTX-75 and a lot of people change to the ford honey or other fluid and it works better. The SVT came stock with the ford honey in it according to the literature that came with my SVT. Changing it out with some fresh stuff may help.
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Old 01-04-2013, 11:48 PM   #4
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Does the lever just not move at all. or, is it hard to get 'into gear (which is the last little bit of movement)
If the lever just does not move at all (or only partially like the 3-4 only..)- one of the two cables has ice), then it is ice in the cable or along it.
If it is only the getting into gear, then it is the fluid.
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:23 AM   #5
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The shifter moves fine forward/back which means the shift fork inside the transmission is moving freely in that direction. All gears engage normally otherwise. It's only stiff moving side to side. I should change the trans fluid anyway, there's Mercon V atf in there now, but there was last winter too and no problems then.
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:32 AM   #6
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It's only stiff moving side to side.
Then it's probably the shift cable connection to the transmission (shift tower). It's probably a very small amount of moisture getting in there somehow. What I suggest is not easy. Remove the shift cables from the transmission, clean with something that has alcohol in it- MAF cleaner, or electrical parts cleaner. Then, give a few minutes to for the evaporative agents to dry the moisture, and use some sort of lubricant either lithium spray grease, WD40, or dabs of motor oil. I suggest motor oil because WD40 seems to thin to last for very long in a situation like this. I'd try grease first if you have it. I'd make sure all the points of the shifter were cleaned to remove moisture, and then greased before I went doing anything inside the transmission- including changing the fluid.

I'd have to know more about the SVT trans, but I'm assuming that the shift tower is mounted vertically in the transmission. If it's mounted horizontally, then it could be something in the transmission.
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:40 PM   #7
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So I just took out the airbox to look at the shift linkages on the trans again. Popped off the side to side shift cable and then manipulated the shift tower (new term to me but I'll use it) by hand and it moves very freely in all directions, even with the forward-back cable still hooked to the shifter so there's very little friction there. BTW the shift tower input is mounted horizontally into the trans, whatever that's worth. Sprayed that down with elecrtical contact cleaner and then regreased with white lithium spray.

The side to side shift cable end comes out of a rubber boot with a sealed end and I greased that. The shifter moves freely side to side when disconnected from trans.

I guess I'll know the next cold morning whether this has fixed anything. All this stuff is relatively easy to get to so I think this was worth the minimal time and effort of doing.

EDIT: I went back out after posting and I think I found the problem. At the trans end, the accordion bellows boot I mentioned above is supposed to stay attached to the end of the shift cable, protecting it from the elements while allowing it it's range of motion. It was detached from the end of the cable, exposing the cable itself, and presumably allowing moisture to get into the boot. I couldn't find a way to get the boot securely re-attached, so it's not really fixed but I'm pretty damn sure that was the problem.

Last edited by 6SPD_soul; 01-05-2013 at 06:19 PM.
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Old 01-05-2013, 04:59 PM   #8
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Yep, that sounds like that might be it.

Moisture seems to be getting inside the cable and freezing it up. For that you'll need graphite. WD might actually work because it is thinner, but you'd have to be completely sure to get all the moisture out of it for it to work.

I don't know why I was thinking that the ends of the cable could be frozen up, it would make more sense that the cable itself had moisture inside of it.
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:48 PM   #9
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Motorcycle shops have a tool to pressure lube control cables with an aerosol spray can, they are about $10

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Old 01-08-2013, 08:16 PM   #10
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Hey OP, let us know if that resolves the problem. I've got the same issue and it's driving me nuts.
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