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.
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:
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):
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