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HOW TO - Change Shift Cable End

5595 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  sailor
I recently had to swap out the end on the "white" cable on my 2001 ZX3. I've read about the concept a bunch of times here, but didn't see an actual step by step process, so I snapped some pictures when I did mine.

I found post 6 of this thread to be pretty helpful to read beforehand, as it gives a little explanation of how the two different styles of adjuster work. It's nothing you won't figure out, but some threads mention pushing in the orange part, some mention pulling it out, so here is the "gospel" of how they work.

Estimated time required: 30 minutes - 6 hours. Mine took closer to 6 hours, but that included a few warm up breaks, stopping for dinner, and an unforeseen problem. You will see what actually took that long later, but I could see doing this in 30-60 minutes easily next time.

Tools required: Jack and Jackstands, tire wrench, vice grip.
Optional tools: Standard ratchet set, screwdrivers, and sidecutters (for removing other crap if you need to).

Step 1: Buy the part you need. As listed elsewhere on the forum, part numbers are:

YS4Z-7412-JA for the white one
YS4Z-7412-HA for the black one

I just needed the white one. Shameless plug: I bought it from, using Autonation Ford as my dealer because they had the best price out of the 3-4 I cross checked. Actual price was $20.52 for the part and $9.95 for overnight shipping. Here is a pic of what I actually got:

Step 2: Find your Focus. As you can see, I did mine in my driveway with snow all around, so this is definitely a driveway doable job in a pinch. I highly recommend a garage, but we all know it isn't always possible. For bonus fun points, the temperature went from 30 degrees to 9 degrees while I was working.The car also had been sitting for a few days, with the melting and re-freezing, so I cleared it the best I could, but still had ice everywhere.

Step 3: Lift the car up and remove the left front wheel. I opted to lift both sides so I could lay under the car if I needed to, but all of my work was in the left front wheel area.

Safety first, use jackstands so you don't die. I will add here that I did not remove the plastic inner fender like I've seen people mention. It might give a little more room if you do so, but I had no problems snaking my hands and tools in from under the car with the plastic in place.

I found this to be an ideal place to put the light. It shines down enough that you can see what you are doing.

As you can see here, you can reach the cable end from under the car. Push the orange clip in until it clicks, and verify that it is loose by sliding it back and forth on the adjuster.

Step 4: Remove the cable end. I couldn't find the secret method to unclip it from the cable or anything. The only thing I could come up with is using brute force. I sat with my feet under the car, with the hub at about my chest/stomach. I snaked both hands in, grabbed the cable end by the ring with one hand and on the base with the other hand, and pulled harder than I ever thought I should on a shift cable.

Here is the part once it is removed, sitting next to the new one in the bag. We are about 45 minutes into the job at this point.

[:)][:)][:)][:)][:)][:)]* Due to how mine broke, there was a small nub of rubber/metal from the cable end rusted onto the shift selector arm itself. Getting the nub off of the shaft took me like 4 hours, trying cutting with a sidecutters, grabbing with a vicegrip from underneath, breaking it loose enough that I could turn the nub on the shaft; and finally removing the airbox, moving the fuse box, and trying the sidecutters and vice grip from above. Ultimately, what got the nub off was grabbing with the vicegrip from above and twisting it perpendicular to how you would push it on. The motion felt like I was going to break the shaft off of the shift selector if I applied enough force, but I made sure to keep it to twisting on the end rather than pushing on the shaft. I think a big prybar from above would have worked, and I had a buddy bringing one over, but got the end off before he got there. I left these out of the how-to itself because knowing how I got it off now I feel like I could have gotten it off from underneath. I added this info for reference, though. My iphone shut down from being too cold at this point as well, so no pics from actually doing this.[:)][:)][:)][:)][:)][:)]*

New part vs. old part. You can see the beat up nub that was stuck to the shift selector as well:

Step 5: With the old end and all former pieces of the end removed, the installation is actually pretty easy. I started by attaching the new end to the cable. You have to push it past the initial bump for it to snap on to the cable itself. You will know when it is on because it will snap on, and then be able to slide back and forth on the cable end. If it does not slide back and forth, you will not be able to adjust the shift cables later. Crappy pic taken from above showing the end on the cable but not hooked to the transmission yet.

Step 6: Snap the cable end to the shift selector arm from the transmission. This did take quite a bit of force, but you will eventually feel it pop on. I moved the arm on the shift selector to neutral to get it where I wanted it before snapping it on.

Step 7: Adjust your shift cables. I'll admit I cheated here, I put the shifter into neutral in the car and then went and moved the clip so that the cable end locked to the cable. I then moved the shifter through all of the gears a few times, then went back and pressed the adjuster again. There was a little fighting getting it to go into gear at first, but it eventually went into all of the gears. It's probably not perfect, but I can't tell which issues are from the adjustment being slightly off and which are from the single digit temperatures we've been having. It did seem to shift nice on the one 35 degree day we had, so I think I'm close. I think a fluid change is in order this spring.

Step 8: Put the rest of the car back together. For me, this meant airbox and fusebox this time, but could possibly be as simple as just putting the tire back on and getting the car off of the jack.
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