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Old 04-30-2009, 01:53 AM   #1
Windy Corner of a Dirty Street
DirtyLarry's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Pueblo West, Colorado
Posts: 2,926
Post Cheap wobbly auto trans shift lever fix

As these GMT800 trucks and SUV’s are starting to get older things are starting to pop up that need creative fixes to keep them like new. Not only like new, but better than new. One annoying thing that was really driving me nuts on the recently purchased well used 2005 Silverado HD I just picked up is the auto transmission gear shifter is wobbly as a pogo stick in a 55 gallon barrel, so that had to be dealt with. I noticed my 2004 Tahoe Z71 is starting to exhibit the same looseness as well as my neighbors 2004 Z71. Below is my fix so hopefully it will help someone else and might be worthy a sticky.

The culprit is not with the shift lever itself where it goes into the column but a worn .03 cent nylon bushing way down inside the Linear Shift Assembly. Your first choice is to pony up $225.00 to your favorite GM dealer for a new Linear Shift Assembly only to have the same cheap bushing wear out in a few years or fix the issue where Delphi got cheap on us with a better bushing.

1) Disconnect the battery
2) Remove the Airbag fuse
3) Remove the airbag by inserting a small screw driver into the small holes in sides of the steering wheel. The driver’s side hole is easy to see of you look near the turn signal stalk while standing on the side of the truck.
4) Remove the steering wheel
5) Remove the dash bezel by gently pulling it away from the dash
6) Remove the lower kick panel by removing two screws (one near the brake release and other towards the center of the truck)
7) Remove the upper and lower steering column plastic shrouding. Some years have screws that need to be removed from the lower shroud while the later trucks just snap together. This piece breaks easy to be careful taking it apart.
8) Remove the metal kick panal guard
9) Unsnap the trans shift cable and BTSI cable by gently prying them with a screwdriver
10) Remove the BTSI cable from Linear Shift Assembly by removing the 3 torx screws
11) Remove the shift lever by removing 1 torx screw. Don’t let the shifter hang by the Tow/Haul wire. Poke the shift handle some place in the dash to hold it for you to keep pressure off the wire.
12) Remove the Linear Shift Assembly by removing 3 more Torx screws.

Now for the pictures.

The culprit (the bushing on the right), which is not a serviceable part through GM.

Location of the Linear Shift Assembly on the column

On the bench ready for surgery

Pop the pivot pin out of the assembly and you will notice wear marks inside aluminum housing where the pivot bracket has chewed it up due to the nylon bushing wearing out and allowing excessive movement at this contact point. The pivot bracket was extremely loose inside the housing on this truck. You should also find the pivot pin and nylon bushing are very loose inside the pivot bracket once you get it out of the assembly and put the pin and bushing back in the hole in the pivot bracket. The pivot pin is fine, but the nylon bushing will be trash as shown in the first picture above.

To tighten the fitment back up, I gently squeezed it in the vice just a tad until the pivot bracket slipped back in snugly.

Now for the creative part…. and of course the part I got so busy doing I forgot to take pictures, I dug through my tool box to find a bushing or something that would work better than nylon bushing and fit inside the hole in the pivot bracket. I first tried a brass cable end but it was too big to fit in the hole and there is no way you are going to drill a bigger hole in the pivot bracket as it is forged steel.

As crazy as it sounds and as desperate as I was getting, I scrounged up a couple ¼ Pronged T-nuts that looked like they could be pressed into the pivot bracket from each side to make for a decent bushing. I trimmed off the prongs and pressed the t-nut into each side of the pivot bracket, clearanced them up a bit on the grinder so it would fit back into the assembly then ran a 7/32 drill through the middle to make clearance for the pivot pin. Put it all back together again and the shift lever is nice and snug just like a new truck.

Cost: $ 0 and it sure beats the hell out of paying a dealer $225 for the same part that will wear out again. Hopefully, the homemade steel bushing will have a longer life than the OEM nylon bushing did as well.

¼” Pronged T-nut. Somewhat similar to the bushing that was being replaced. Well, kind of…if you sqwent your eyes really hard.

You could actually get creative and make a bushing out of many things you probably already have laying around the house and still wind up with a better end product than what Delphi used to manufacture this Linear Shift assembly.

With that, grease snot out of all the pivot points as you assemble the assembly then assemble column and dash back together in reverse order.

Last edited by augie; 04-04-2011 at 12:15 AM.
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