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Questions adjusting 2001 transmission shift cable


June 30, 2010
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City, State
Boise, ID
Year, Model & Trim Level
2001 Sport Trac 4X4
So first off thanks to this forum I found the two loose bolts on the shift linkage under the dash. Got that fixed and it took the slop out of shifting.
The gear indicator is way out though.
I found ncranchero's post on adjusting the linkage but still had some questions.
From his post:
Selector Lever Cable Adjustment
Rotate the gearshift lever clockwise until it bottoms out (first gear), then rotate it counterclockwise two detents ((D) position).

>>Hang a 3 lb weight on the gearshift lever.
OK so the weight is just to keep the level locked in it's detent on the column?

>>Raise and support the vehicle.
Just for working room or do we need wheels up off the ground?
CAUTION: Adjust the shift cable only in the (D) position.

Adjust the shift cable.
>>Disconnect the shift cable from the manual control lever.
This looks like a ball and socket type connection, just apply pressure underneath with a screwdriver to pop it off?

>>Insert a flatblade screwdriver between the end of the shift cable >>adjustment lock tab and the housing and twist the screwdriver to >>disengage the lock tab snaps. Pull the shift cable adjustment lock tab >>outward to the unlock position.
>>Place the manual control lever in the (D) position.
>>Rotate the manual control lever forward until travel stops. Then, move the >>manual control lever back two detents to the (D) position.
>>Connect the shift cable to the manual control lever.
>>Push the shift cable adjustment lock tab inward to the lock position.

OK this is the part that gets fuzzy to me. I understand popping lock tabs and it sounds like I should start this in drive and then move the lever on the transmission all the way to "1" and back to drive again before pushing the lock tabs back. I guess what I'm missing it the mechanics of the actual adjustment. Like an adjusting barrel you turn on a boden cable. Are the locking tabs just making there connection at a new spot in the bracket on the transmission?

Lower the vehicle.
Remove the 3 lb weight.
Verify that the engine will start in P and N and that the reversing lamps illuminate in R. If not, repeat the adjustment procedure.

There is an adjustment wheel under the dash/steering column to adjust the gear indicator, which is really what you need to adjust, not the shift cable. As I recall, you have to remove the lower dash cover to get to it. It's an easy adjustment, but a pain to get to. To take the lower dash cover off, you have to remove the screws that attach the hood release handle from underneath. The top edge just pulls off. Then you have to remove the steel panel behind the plastic panel. Then you can access the adjusting wheel.

It's a small white plastic/nylon wheel. You shouldn't have to turn it much to get your indicator lined up correctly. If you turn it and don't see results, the tabs or whatever that hold it in place are broken and you'll have to replace the nylon wheel. If the instrument cluster has ever been removed, there's a good chance it might be broken because the cable that moves the shift indicator has to be removed to get the cluster out. The end of the cable has a loop that hooks over a tab on the shift lever.

I had to replace the adjusting wheel on my '01 last spring, and I had to check several Explorers in the salvage yard to find one that wasn't broken. To get the wheel off the cable, slip the cable off the tab on the shift lever - which requires removing the cover on the steering column - and the wheel will slide over the loop in the cable. I left the dash covers off until I drove it enough to be sure the indicator was lined up properly.

That was the fix. Turns out the bracket holding the adjustment wheel was the problem. A bread bag wire tie and two small tie wraps pulled everything back into place without any binding.