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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Okay, one of the ends of my shift cables broke, and the only solution was entirely new shift cables. I got them from BillJ for about $70 plus shipping. They come as a set.

The design of the new cables was different than the old ones: the ends were different. Good thing, too - the old ones were quite hard to get out; it was much easier to get the new ones in place. In fact I'm not sure I would've been able to get the new ones in place without breaking part of them or taking apart a lot more of my dash. Of course this also meant that the part I needed (which fit in one of the ends) wasn't transferable from the new cable to the old - the only solution was to replace the cables (or jury-rig something but I didn't want to do that). Pictures of other shift towers seem to show both types, so you might have the 'easier' kind to start with.

Old cables on top:


New cables on top in this picture:


Another note on the cables: Bill told me that cars built before April __, 1999 (it was the 1st, I think, but don't hold me to that) had a different cable type, and on those you can replace just the piece that I lost for about $10. My car was built May 5, 1999, so I was stuck. IIRC he also said the Focus shifter (possibly the SVT version, I didn't take note because I knew I didn't have one) also has a replaceable end. The good news is that it looks to me like the end on the new cable wasn't likely to fail in the same way that the old one did.

The Ford CD was helpful but not entirely accurate, so I decided to write this. In particular the Ford CD said you should remove the air intake to get to the second cable holder. I don't know what they're thinking - it's FAR easier to access it from the wheel well. Perhaps they forgot there were about 30 hoses and wires between the intake and the transaxle. I was barely able to get my arm down there to touch the cables, and that's it. Don't bother.

1. Put the transmission in neutral.

2. Go into the car and remove the center console (7 screws), and the two side panels just in front of the center console (where the HVAC comes out, two more screws each). I also had to remove the two side kick panels (where the hood release is, and the one on the other side), as well as the door threshold trim pieces on each side.

3. Remove the screw that's holding the vent in place just in front of the shifter, and push the vent up in a bit.

4. Cut the carpet (I didn't make this up - this is from the Ford CD) from behind the vent to the front edge of the carpet, and peel it back out of the way.

5. Disconnect the cables from the shifter, and unlatch them from their holder. The old cables had an odd locking system to hold them in place - essentially, you have to turn one side counterclockwise while holding the other side (it's best to do this inside the car first so you get the idea down, because it's easier to do it there on cables that are protected from the weather and all). Except the trick is that they are spring loaded, so if you let go, they tighten back up again. It's strange. It's Ford.

6. To get the white cable from under the shifter, push the entire cable toward the front of the car so it'll slide through the grommet enough to give you room. Or just break it; that's what I did.

7. Remove the two 10 mm nuts holding the cable grommet in place, one on each side. This is kind of a bear because, on mine, it's under some more insulation/sound deadening material that Ford put in. Clearly Ford installed these cables before they put in the interior.

I was wishing I had a set of those ratcheting wrenches for this - my socket and ratchet were simply too big to fit under the insulation, but the ratcheting wrenches would've been absolutely perfect for the job. Consider using this as an excuse to buy a set if you don't have them.

8. Raise and support the vehicle. Remove the left front tire.

9. Disconnect the cables at the transaxle (they're right inside the wheel well).

10. I was pretty much stuck until I removed the tie-rod end (15 mm socket) and swiveled it out of the way. At that point I was able to get good enough access to remove them fairly quickly.

11. Climb under the car, about where the catalytic converter is. Note the routing of the cables under the car. In particular there's a piece of metal that acts as a guide for the cables - it doesn't hold them in any way, but just keeps them from going too far to the sides.

12. Pull the cables out into the passenger compartment. This is harder than it sounds, and it's where I spent the bulk of the time. I had to make multiple "trips" under the car and back into the passenger compartment to work them through. I had to remove one of the nuts from the thin heat shield above the catalytic converter and bent that down out of the way to work. The worst part was getting the end of the white cable through - it has this tall "stack" that required some kajiggering to get through the small hole. I finally got it by breaking the thin plastic "chamber" on one side (see pictures when I post them). In hindsight, I might have had better luck getting the black cable through first so there'd be more room to work.

Also, while you're playing around under the car, mind the VSS (vehicle speed sensor) connection and other wires as well. I somehow managed to disconnect my VSS while I was working on it, probably by catching and pulling the wires, and the following day I had to jack it up again and reconnect it. The shift cables run right past the VSS wire and connector, so they're prime targets for damage. If you're wondering how to find the VSS: it's near where the passenger driveshaft enters the transaxle proper. Also, on mine, there is a precat with a wiring connection next to it (probably an O2 sensor connector) - if you follow that wire up it runs near the VSS connector, and the VSS itself is just below it, screwed into the transaxle.

13. Put the new cables in place. Slowly feed them through the hole (more multiple trips required). Be sure to route them under the ductwork. To make sure that I'd be able to get the white cable back in place under the shift tower, I pushed it through the grommet somewhat, then pulled it back through in the right spot.

14. Carefully route the new cables through the guide mentioned in step 11, then around to the transaxle area.

15. Pop the new cables into the holders on the transaxle and connect the cables to the transaxle.

16. Attach the cables to the ball joints on the shifter.

17. Test it through all of the gears. You know how your shifter feels so verify that you can access all six gears.

18. You're basically done - now it's putting everything back together. Don't leave any tools under the carpet... :flushed:
 

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Nice write up RJ..Missing some tools my friend ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Missing some tools my friend ;)
:confused: What?

Having help would probably have saved me an hour or two, if that's what you mean by "tools." ;)
 

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Nice work. Having done a few sets of those I know they aren't a very fun project. The only thing I have to add is that when using new cables some may have to adjust the cable ends to get their shifter to shift evenly in all gears
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Nice work. Having done a few sets of those I know they aren't a very fun project. The only thing I have to add is that when using new cables some may have to adjust the cable ends to get their shifter to shift evenly in all gears
That's a good point. I didn't play with the adjusters at all, since mine worked correctly for all gears. Ford has a special tool for adjusting the cables, but I'm not sure what it is supposed to do (I think it holds the shifter dead center while you hit the auto-adjusters on the other end of the cable), and the Ford CD was referring to the old cables anyway, not the new ones, so that step might not even be the same with the new cables.

I am having one small glitch - there is sometimes a clicking noise when I go for 5th or Reverse from the point where the second cable attaches to the shifter. I'm going to take off the shift boot and make sure there's grease in there and make sure it's on the ball joint correctly.

Update: I checked the ball joint - it's on there correctly, as I suspected. Perhaps it'll wear in a little bit and stop making that noise.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Quick update to this - the clicking noise has stopped, and the shifter works perfectly. It feels good!
 

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I broke the head of the small end of the Cable off on my tranny, do both the cables need to be changed? Or can I just replace the Broken one?

Like you said in a previous post, that the older cables you could just replace the part for $10, which part was it thats replacable and how do you go about replacing it?:confused:

Do you know how the "Auto Adjusters" work?

If I just squeeze them, what will happen?
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I broke the head of the small end of the Cable off on my tranny, do both the cables need to be changed? Or can I just replace the Broken one?

Like you said in a previous post, that the older cables you could just replace the part for $10, which part was it thats replacable and how do you go about replacing it?:confused:
I don't know if you can replace the entire head. The replaceable part I was talking about was an insert. I called BillJ, and I suggest you do the same.

Do you know how the "Auto Adjusters" work?

If I just squeeze them, what will happen?
I think the idea is that you set the transaxle to some position (neutral, first gear, something like that), then you hit the auto-adjusters and it pops the cables to the right position. I'm not really sure, though.
 

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I don't know if you can replace the entire head. The replaceable part I was talking about was an insert. I called BillJ, and I suggest you do the same.



I think the idea is that you set the transaxle to some position (neutral, first gear, something like that), then you hit the auto-adjusters and it pops the cables to the right position. I'm not really sure, though.
Alright, ya, i'll have to figure something out, thanks.
 

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Yes you just lift the red plugs up with the trans in neutral and the shifter centered. There is a tool you can get to center the shifter, but having someone hold it is adequate; Then you just push the red plugs back down.
 
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