How To

Smooth Shifting

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by Bruce Caldwell  More from Author

How To Get Quicker, Slicker Shifts

All the horsepower in the world isn’t much good if you can’t use if effectively. Traction is a big part of the equation, but so is efficient shifting. The ability to shift quickly, smoothly and precisely can easily make the difference between winning and losing. In everyday driving situations a smooth shifter makes the whole driving experience much more enjoyable.

Factory shifters are designed to work well under all kinds of use over long time periods. The problem with most factory shifters is that cost concerns affect their design. A penny saved is a ton of money on a mass production scale.

Aftermarket companies are more concerned about providing the ultimate shifting experience rather than meeting some bean counter’s target price. Swapping out the factory Mustang shifter is a relatively easy upgrade that you’ll appreciate every time you shift gears. A perfectly executed shift in a performance Mustang is a thing of joy.

There are many fine aftermarket shifters available. The following photos give an idea of what’s involved in swapping shifters. The shifters shown here are from the huge Steeda Performance Parts Catalog. The first photos deal with the new 2005-2006 Mustang shifters. The latter photos show a Steeda Tri-Ax Shifter for 1983-2004 Mustangs as fitted to a T-5 transmission.

Installing the newer shifter involves being underneath the car and inside. The early shifter swap is all handled from the inside.

Steeda engineers sought to make improvements in the areas of shorter throws, more positive shifting engagement and less of that sloppy factory shifter feel. Second to third gear shifts are noticeably improved. Installing a high performance shifter is a quick, inexpensive upgrade that provides instant gratification. XM

This is the 2005 factory 5-speed shifter mounted to a transmission out of the car for demonstration purposes. Note that there’s nothing fancy about the unit.

The driveshaft needs to be disconnected at the transmission on 2005-06 Mustangs for extra clearance. Inside the car, the shifter knob and boot need to be removed.

From underneath the car the stock linkage rods need to be removed.

The two 10mm nuts at the back of the factory shifter need to be removed.

Then the factory shifter assembly is ready to be removed from the car.

This is the new Steeda Tri-Ax Shifter for 2005-06 Mustang. Instead of the factory rod the Steeda shifter uses a strong billet construction shifter beam. The beam is CNC machined from 6061-T6 aluminum. The shifter comes with upgraded bushings.

New performance bushings are part of the shifter installation kit.

Installing the new shifter is a reverse of removing the old unit. Here is the Steeda Tri-Ax Shifter ready to be bolted to the transmission. In an actual car there would be in more moving from inside the car to underneath it.

An important step in the installation of the new shifter is setting the shifter stop adjustment. The setscrew is backed out and the shifter is placed in third gear. A folded piece of paper is used to set the very small gap. The front stop adjustment is made in a similar manner.

Here is the new Steeda Tri-Ax Shifter bolted to the 5-speed Mustang transmission. Three different shift knobs are available.

Here is a factory shifter on a T-5 transmission mounted on a display stand for ease of demonstration. Due to the entirely different transmission design (compared to the 2005) the driveshaft does not have to be removed.

The T-5 removal and installation are handled from inside the car. After the shifter boot is removed the four mounting bolts can be accessed.

The shifter plate needs to be wiggled in order to break the seal of the silicone gasket. Once the gasket is loose, the shifter pulls up and out. A bead of fresh silicone is used to form the new gasket after all traces of the old gasket are removed.

Underneath the shifter plate is a small bushing. It needs to go on the ball end of the new shifter.

This shot shows how the bushing fits over the ball end of the new shifter.

The new Steeda Tri-Ax Shifter just drops in place. Wouldn’t it be great if all performance upgrades were this simple?

This close-up view of the Steeda T-5 shifter shows the adjustable shift stop bolts, one in front and one in back.

A variety of shifter handle designs are available to suit individual driving preferences. A wide range of shift knobs is also available.

This is the Tri-Ax Shifter for the 2001 1/2 and newer Mustangs equipped with the TR-3650 manual transmission.

Steeda Autosports
1351 NW Steeda Way
Pompano Beach, FL 33069


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