The national average cost for a transmission shift cable replacement in 2023 is $455​

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National average cost of a a Transmission Shift Cable Replacement
for popular vehicles:

Car Model

Avg. cost


What is a transmission shift cable and how does it work?

Vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission allow the driver to select between a limited number of shift options, “Drive”, “Reverse”, and so on. When the driver makes a selection, the transmission routes its internal fluid (automatic transmission fluid, or ATF) to flow through tiny passageways in order to cause the transmission to shift to and through the proper gears automatically. In many cases, a shift lever is used for this selection.

The shift lever is often attached to a cable that transfers the motion of the shifter to another lever on the top or side of the transmission. The shift cable extends from either the steering column or the center console, wherever the shifter is located. While the shift cable does not directly cause the automatic transmission to shift through gears while it is underway, it does allow the driver to place the transmission into gear in the first place.


How do I know if my vehicle needs a new transmission shift cable?

Without a working shift cable, your automatic transmission (assuming it features a shift cable) would be unable to enter the proper mode for operation. Your vehicle might need a new transmission shift cable if you notice one or more of the following signs:

The shifter feels loose and "sloppy" when you shift from one setting to the next

The gear selector readout (shift indicator) on the dash display or center console does not match the actual setting of the transmission. For example, the indicator shows “Drive”, but the transmission is actually in Neutral and your vehicle does not move or moves in reverse

The shift lever feels disconnected or has no resistance when shifting

The shifter is difficult to move from one setting to the next

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How is a a Transmission Shift Cable Replacement done?

Transmission shift cable replacement requires that a technician be able to access both the underbody and interior of your vehicle. To replace the cable, the technician will likely take the following general steps (depending on the arrangement of your vehicle’s drivetrain):

  • Disconnect the negative battery terminal to cut power to the vehicle
  • Remove the lower dash panel on the driver's side of the vehicle (or the center console housing if the vehicle is equipped with a console shifter)
  • Disconnect the shift cable connection at the steering column (or floor shifter, if so equipped) and feed the shift cable through the hole in the firewall or floorboard
  • Raise the vehicle up on a lift to allow underbody access
  • Remove any heat shields, guards, or other components blocking access to the shifter cable mounts and connections
  • Disconnect the shift cable from the transmission, and remove any guides or mounts holding the cable in place
  • Remove the old shift cable and insert the new cable in the same orientation
  • Reconnect the shift cable connections at the transmission, and reinstall any cable guides or mounts under the vehicle
  • Reinstall any heat shields, guards, or other components previously removed to access the shift cable
  • Lower the vehicle to ground level and reconnect the new shift cable to the shifter
  • Reinstall any dash panels, center console parts, or trim pieces previously removed
  • Reconnect the battery cable to power up the vehicle
  • Verify the repair by either connecting a scan tool and checking that the driver selected gear matches the gear selected inside the transmission or by test driving the vehicle and cycling through all gears

Other questions customers ask

Can you drive a car with a broken shift cable?
The only time it might be possible to drive with a broken shift cable is if it breaks while you are driving and you have already placed the transmission in “Drive”. Otherwise, you will be unable to engage the transmission with a broken cable. The transmission will remain in the same state or setting. If the cable is worn or damaged, on the other hand, it might be possible to drive your vehicle, but it is not recommended.
What causes a transmission shift cable to break?
Transmission shift cables may break due to severe corrosion, heavy and repeated usage over time, or physical damage to the cable such as impact with road debris.
How long should a shift cable last?
Most shift cables on modern vehicles will last 100K-200K miles or more, depending on usage. If a vehicle is often driven on short trips, for example, the shift cable will wear faster than a vehicle primarily used on highways and long trips without stopping.

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