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'97-'03 A/T Repair loose gear shift and indicator

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Old 05-06-2013, 11:25 AM   #1
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Default '97-'03 A/T Repair loose gear shift and indicator

This thread is to show how to repair a loose gear shift lever and reset the needle indicator.

Applies to: '97-'03 Ford F-150 pickups with automatic transmission

Users suffering from this problem may experience the following symptoms:
-Play in the gear shift lever between gears
-Inability to shift into Park
-No engine start when in Park (requires shifting to Neutral)
-Gear indicator needle off by one or more gears

Problem: The adapter plate at the base of the steering column connecting the gear shift lever to the gear shift cable has become loose.

Tools required:
- 7mm Socket or Nut driver
- 8mm Socket or Nut driver
- T30 Torx bit and ratchet wrench
- 3" ratchet extension
- Thread lock

To begin, remove the upper cover around the steering column. The four spring clips will release when pulled away from the dash. Once free, twist the cover up towards the dash, then towards the center of the vehicle (when removed, it will be upside down).
'97-'03 A/T Repair loose gear shift and indicator-img_5550-medium-.jpg
'97-'03 A/T Repair loose gear shift and indicator-img_5551-medium-.jpg

Next remove the hood release and parking brake release levers from the lower dash cover. Each lever uses two 7mm bolts, one on the face of the dash cover and on the bottom, behind the lever.
'97-'03 A/T Repair loose gear shift and indicator-img_5549-medium-.jpg

Next remove the lower dash cover by removing the 4 remaining 7mm bolts around the perimeter of the dash cover and the 2 8mm bolts on the lower left dash frame.
'97-'03 A/T Repair loose gear shift and indicator-img_5548-medium-.jpg

The faulty piece is buried behind the steering column.
'97-'03 A/T Repair loose gear shift and indicator-img_5545-medium-.jpg

Once removed, you'll look underneath the dash to find the adapter plate on the base of the column. The picture below is taken from above the gas pedal looking towards steering column. The adapter plate has two T30 torx bolts.
'97-'03 A/T Repair loose gear shift and indicator-img_5544-medium-.jpg

Remove only one of the two bolts, apply thread lock compound, replace then tighten the bolt. Once tightened, remove the other bolt, apply thread lock, then replace and tighten to approximately 23-27 ft-lbs.

Once tight, locate the thumb-screw that attaches to the gear shift indicator, located below and to the right of the steering columns universal joint. Adjust the screw until the indicator appears centered around the selected gear.

Once complete, replace the lower dash cover (reverse of removal), then replace the parking brake and hood release levers, then replace the upper column bezel.

Now your gear shifts should be tight and free of play. You indicator should also match the select gear.

Good Luck!

Last edited by Styx01Sc; 05-06-2013 at 11:35 AM. Reason: modified applied torque
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:08 AM   #2
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Moved and approved
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Old 10-29-2013, 06:48 PM   #3
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this is a great tutorial , would this kind of repair be basically the same for a 1992 ford ?
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Old 07-30-2015, 04:26 AM   #4
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Default Next Steps

I crawled under the dash and tightened the two bolts which are usually the culprit. they were definitely loose.

However, now the shifter feels really tight and hard to shift (really have to muscle it). It still doesn't line up right (although it's better than it was) and I still can't shift down into 1st.

Any thoughts on where to look next?


So I pulled everything apart today and took a video of the bushings on the shifter column. I still can't shift into 1st gear. I did adjust the wheel and the needle lines up now.

I don't know what they are supposed to look like, but based on the shavings around them showing wear, I can only assume that they are very worn. Any idea on what the next steps are?

Last edited by liamket; 07-30-2015 at 10:16 PM. Reason: Added info
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