Cost To Replace Shifter Cable: All You Need To Know

The cost to replace shifter cable guide will help you budget properly when replacing a damaged gear shift cable.

Shift Cable Replacement Complete Guide

These broken cables affect your vehicle’s gears, so it’s best to replace them as soon as you discover them. Our car experts provide a brief guide based on their experiences and current trends.

Shift Cable Replacement Costs Complete Guide (With Table)

Shift cable replacement cost is about $300, including labor costs. Some repairs cost as low as $200, but other expensive car model repairs can be as high as $600. The cost of replacing shift cables depends on factors such as the car’s model and the mechanic’s location.

– Make or Model and Price

Down below is a list of different car models and their average shift cable replacement cost:

  • Honda CRV: $190
  • Honda Civic: $200
  • Toyota Camry: $500
  • Ford F150: $280
  • Chevy Silverado: $250
  • Ford Fusion: $350
  • BMW 3 Series: $400
  • Nissan Altima: $180
  • Audi A4: $570
  • Toyota Corolla: $400

What Are the Signs Your Shift Cable Needs Replacement?

The signs your shift selector cable needs replacement are an incorrect indicator and starting in an incorrect gear, as well as an inability to switch gears. The symptoms of a shift selector cable that needs replacement also include the inability to turn off your car, noises, and a burning smell.

– Inability To Switch Gears

If you start your vehicle and discover that you cannot shift into a gear because the gear selector won’t move, this is a sign that the selector cable has a problem. In this case, the cable might be damaged or has become badly stretched so that when you move the shifter, it does not affect the vehicle’s operation.


The cable has been rendered useless because there is no leverage to switch the automatic or manual transmission from one gear to another. If this is the case with your vehicle, the next step is to tow it to an auto repair shop because you cannot drive it.

– Incorrect Indicator

Every gear selector must have a line or needle that indicates what gear you are shifting into. The selector helps you to know if you are selecting neutral, park, or reverse gear. Once your shift cable becomes defective, the line on your indicator won’t match your selected gear.

Why you Need to Replace the Shift Cable

This indicates that the cable has become badly stretched and will move the transmission into the right gear without the indicator moving in the right direction. If this defect continues without repair, it will make it impossible for you to switch to the right gear. Also, it will make it impossible for you to identify the gear you are in, which can cause severe damage to your transmission and lead to an accident.

– Starting in the Wrong Gear

Starting your vehicle in a gear different from the park and neutral gears signifies a problem with your shift cable. Now, you should be worried about this problem. If you start your vehicle and are immediately in drive or reverse, you must hit the brakes very quickly to prevent yourself from hitting another car, a person, or a wall.

Also, there is a possibility that the problem might be with the shift interlock solenoid. So, you should consult a mechanic to diagnose which particular issue is affecting your gears.

– Inability To Turn Off Your Car

A badly stretched shift selector can cause your key not to come out of the vehicle’s ignition, or your car won’t turn off because of a standard safety feature. Also, you cannot turn off your vehicle while running. Typically, it is expected that you should be in Park before shutting down the car.

So, if you have a badly stretched cable, you will be unable to engage the park gear, and the car won’t recognize that you have actually stopped and want to switch off the vehicle. This problem can pose a threat to you, other motorists, and pedestrians.

– Burning Smell

If your transmission fluid gets old or becomes contaminated, the transmission will start to overheat, and you will notice a burning smell. Also, your cable can start burning if it lacks lubrication or there is a worn-out bushing that needs to be fixed. Once you get a burning smell coming from your engine, it could be the cable. It would help if you got a professional to check it as soon as possible to prevent more severe damage.

– Chunking Sound in the Transmission

If your cable becomes too long or too short, the gears will start scraping against other parts in the transmission system. Once you hear clunking sounds when you’re switching gears, it could mean that the cable is damaged. A humming or buzzing sound from your transmission indicates that the cable might be worn out and has become defective.

Why Does Your Shift Cable Need To Be Replaced?

Your cable needs to be replaced because it has one or more damaged cables which can terribly affect the functioning of the vehicle. On top of that, stretched-out cables and worn-out cable bushings are also among the main reasons why your shift cable must be replaced.

– Damaged Shifter Cable

When you turn your gear selector but the automatic transmission fails to respond, it could mean that one or more cables have snapped. The snapped cables are responsible for the problem with the shift cable connection. If your shift selector is not working while driving, this is a sign that you need to replace the selector cable.

– Stretched-Out Cables

The automatic transmission might be responding, but it is slow and inaccurate when indicating the gear shift. Stretched-out cables might cause this problem.

Replacing the Shift Cable on a Car

The stretching of the cable will prevent the shift lever from cycling between the forward and reverse gears. Stretched-out cables are on the verge of snapping and causing more problems.

– Worn-out Cable Bushings

Worn-out cable bushings will make it hard to engage the park gear and turn off the vehicle. Also, it can cause the transmission to select only odd or even gears. Worn-out cable bushings should be replaced immediately.

– Lit Check Engine Light

If the engine’s light on your dashboard is on, use an OBD2 scanner to read the transmission codes. If the light refuses to go off, this might be an indicator that you need to change the gear cable.

How To Replace a Damaged Shift Cable in Your Vehicle

To replace a damaged cable in your vehicle, you’ll have to carry out this step-by-step process: disconnect the cable from the shifter, disconnect the cable from the engine control arm, connect the new cable, and test for functionality. However, the replacement is best done by a mechanic.

– Disconnect the Cable from the Shifter

First, lift the edge of the rubber boot that covers the shifter’s base. You will notice where the cable connects to the bottom of the shifting arm. You will also notice a nut holding the end in place and an anchor mounting close by that prevents the sleeve from moving.

In some car models, you must remove the center console to get to the mechanics. If this is the case, pay attention to the steps to remove it so you can reattach it to the vehicle properly. After that, remove the securing nut and slide the sleeve out of the anchor. You may need to move the shifter a bit to get them loose.

– Disconnect the Cable from the Engines Control Arm

If you look inside the engine compartment, you will notice where the shifter cables connect to the transmission shifting arm. Unscrew the nut that holds the cable in place and slide its sleeve out of its anchoring. However, ensure the fault is in the cable, not a broken anchor arm. If it is the anchor that is damaged, this is the actual problem and not the cable itself.

If the anchor is bent or broken, the remedy is to weld a new one. For some vehicles, the anchor is bolted to the frame and can be replaced with a part from a local auto parts store.

– Connect the New Cable

After confirming that the two anchoring points are good and you have removed the broken cables, reverse the process and connect the new cable to the vehicle. To do this, you must start at the shifter and slide it into place on its anchor.

Afterwards, move the shifter into place so it fits back over the bolt on the shifter, and screw back the nut to lock it. Replace the shifter boot and move to the engine compartment to complete the job. After that, connect the sleeve of the cables to the anchor close to the engine, and bolt it into position on the shifting arm.

– Check for Functionality

Evaluate the functionality of the replacement cables by moving through the gears. You should ensure the cable hits the gears correctly before taking the vehicle on a test drive. When you are done testing, it should be back to normal.

Frequently Asked Questions

– Can You Drive a Car With a Broken Shift Cable?

Yes, you can drive a car with a broken cable if the cable broke while the transmission was in Drive. If the cable breaks in any other gear, you must manually select Drive. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t drive the car because it might be difficult to switch gears.

– Can You Change Your Gear Shift Yourself?

Yes, you can replace the gear by yourself. Use a nut wrench to get to the shifter box inside the transmission system. However, if you don’t have experience repairing vehicles, don’t try doing the replacement yourself. Instead, hire a mechanic to help with it.

– How Long Should Transmission Shift Cable Typically Last?

A cable typically lasts up to 20 years. The only exception is if the cable experiences damage. The gear shift lifespan depends on many factors, such as the type of car, driver’s experience, environmental conditions, driving style, vehicle mileage, and manual or automatic transmission.

How to Budget Shift Cable Replacement

Can a Faulty Shifter Cable Cause Water Leaks in a Car When It Rains?

When it comes to addressing car water leaks caused by a faulty shifter cable, it’s crucial to seek the best solutions for car water leaks promptly. Faulty shifter cables can potentially lead to water leaks during rainfall, as they might not properly seal the vehicle’s transmission area. Immediate attention and professional assistance are recommended to prevent further damage and ensure a dry and secure interior.


Having learned about the common causes of a defective shifter cable and how to replace the cable with a new one,

here’s a recap:

  • If you have one or more snapped cables, then you should replace the shifter cable.
  • If you have worn-out cable bushings, you should replace the cable.
  • If the cables become stretched, the transmission will stop working, and you must replace the cable.
  • The average price for replacing a cable is $300, but it can go as high as $600 for expensive vehicles.

Except you are experienced with cars, you should hire a local mechanic to help replace the cable.


5/5 - (16 votes)
Ran When Parked