View Full Version : Sloppy shift lever

05-06-2015, 06:05 PM
My horn stopped working. I unplugged the lead that connects to the steering column and when I grounded it the horns honked. That indicates a problem in the steering column. I changed the easy-to-get-at horn brush under the horn ring and it still does not work. That means that I will have to remove the steering wheel and go deeper and change the internal horn brush.

Darn it! That is a pain.

But, while I am at it ..... (Roger's famous WIAAI) ..... The shift lever on my Ford-O-Matic is really sloppy loose. When it is in neutral I can move the lever up and down a ways without shifting into gear. The transmission will shift firmly into gear but the shifty indicator does not lock firmly into position.

Mac's auto parts says: "Does your car suffer from sloppy shifter syndrome?
Over the years, the edges on the detent steps get rounded off. When that happens, you put it into a gear and you're not really sure you're in gear; the lever's position is kind of vague. Improve shifter feel with a new detent from MAC's."


That describes my problem, but is there anything else other than a worn detent plate that could cause the sloppy looseness in the shift lever? Should I also replace the "column shift lever insulator bushing"?


Jeff W
05-06-2015, 07:53 PM
While you have it apart look as the little tab that locks into the detent plate. Mine is a bit worn and I am hoping that a new detent plate will be good enough...

05-07-2015, 02:51 AM
While you have it apart look as the little tab that locks into the detent plate. Mine is a bit worn...

Thanks, Jeff.

It looks like yours wore along the edge on the top. I looked at my detent plate several years ago and it looked OK, so that was why I wondered what else it could be.

Falcon Parts sells a new shift lever ($49.95, ouch!) that might be a solution.


I will take the steering wheel hub apart on Saturday morning and look at the detent plate and shift lever and try to see which piece looks more worn. Maybe both? :NERVOUS:

Is there any way that the $49 shift collar itself would wear out?


05-07-2015, 08:39 AM

I would venture a guess all parts are worn by now, but you'll only know by looking. I've seen all parts grow sloppy. Some worse than others. You may find replacing the worst part makes it tolerable sloppiness.

I've found that unless it has totally failed (leaving you high and dry) you can take it apart, inspect everything, make a list, then put it together and drive it again until the parts arrive. And the good thing is... the second time you take it apart will take 1/4 of the time it took the first time!


But while you are at it you might want to clean or replace the steering shaft bearing and inspect the turn signal switch.


05-09-2015, 07:45 AM
I was going to work on the horn this morning, but then a neighbor told me about a Cruise-In at a nearby Insty Lube.

See: http://instytuneandlube.com/car-shows/

The morning was nice so I decided to fix the horn this coming week when it will be raining everyday.

There were mostly Corvettes and Camarros there, but there were a couple of early Mustangs and one Falcon. :)



That was fun. Someone gave me a free sample size bottle of spray-on "Speed Wax".

05-09-2015, 09:29 AM
Update: I decided go ahead and fix the horn.

I made marks on the steering wheel and shift collar so that I would be able to put the steering wheel back on in the same position and then pulled the steering wheel. The problem was immediately apparent. The inner horn brush was broken. I must have broken the brush when I was taking the steering wheel on and off in order to get it to sit straight.

Here is a piece of the horn brush lying in the bottom of the shift collar:

Broken horn brush:

I stuck in a new horn brush, put the steering wheel back on, and everything is good to go.

Everything was easy to get at and I did not need to go deeper into the steering column, and I have no desire at this time to go deeper. So, ... replacing the sloppy shift components will be another job for another day.

But my horn works! Honk! Honk!