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Increasingly Stiff Shifter P17


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When I got the car I thought the shifter was kind of stiff but it only had 37,000 miles. So I didn't think much about it.

Over the time I've had it the shifter has gotten stiffer until I had to do something about it.

I knew it wasn't the transmission because I had changed it to an Overdrive and it worked the same.


I read the shop manual and that helped to familiarize me with the various parts but in the end that did not point to the problem.

Finally I isolated the stiffness to the support bearing just under the shift lever.

To remove it you take the shift lever off and at the end of the shaft (in the engine compartment) there's a 9/16 ths nut that holds the other parts together.

If you're careful they all stay in place (held in by the coil spring) and the shaft will slip out.

In order to get it past the steering wheel you need to remove the two screws from the column support under the dash and the two screws from the support bearing, then you can slide it out with the bearing.

There was plenty of rust and dirt on the shaft so I wire brushed it before trying to remove the bearing.


Once I had it out I dropped it in a can of diesel fuel and put that in my ultrasonic cleaner surrounded with water.

That freed it up a little but it was still too stiff to use. While moving it back and forth I discovered it moved further counter clockwise than clockwise...indicating it was threaded. So I unscrewed it till the center came out. Inside the support bearing I found what looked like a Leather sleeve the center part was screwed into.

That part went back into the ultrasonic cleaner while I wire brushed the center part.

After drying the part off I liberally coated the threads with Vaseline inside and out and screwed it back together.

Now it felt very nice indeed.

I am thinking the leather is there to dampen any vibration with the threads offering some resistance.

When the leather drys out it really resists being turned!

Now it shifts nice and easy.

A modern car would have a design that has plastic parts that you'll never find replacements for unless they break a lot.

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I've been trying to remove the shifter rod on my 48 DeSoto for weeks now.  I removed the shift lever at the top, and removed the nut at the bottom of the shaft, but the rod won't come out.  I'm trying to remove it so I can install that gearshift boot around the steering wheel post and the shift rod.   Is there some hidden pin at the bottom of the shift rod holding it on?  

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Gosh Marc I don't know about 1948 and earlier.

At the bottom of the shaft on my car the sleeve that is holding the shaft in is splined.

You take the nut off and it slid out. Could your's be rusted?

Something small like a battery terminal puller might work.

I'd line up a bunch of spares before I used a heavy hand on things.

Good luck!

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