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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I started having issues finding Reverse a few weeks ago; typically only when cold. A few days ago I started having issues with 1st as well, and would have to do a variety of things such as pushing the clutch several times, going through 1-3-5 to get Reverse, etc and it became progressively worse - eventually almost leaving me stuck at a stop light unable to get 1st and struggling to get 2nd! If I was in 1st gear and let off the brake pedal, the car would even start to inch forward showing partial clutch engagement (no bueno).

Turns out, the shifter assembly clamp had loosened over time - exacerbated by my having to force Reverse over the past few weeks - eventually causing the shifter out of alignment.

This is a relatively easy fix, and should be on the short list of differential diagnoses whenever you think you are having "clutch" problems!

The differential list includes:
* Contaminated fluid: Always start by doing the "Ranger Method" of using a syringe to remove fluid from the clutch reservoir and refilling with clean fluid. Pump the clutch pedal 30-40 times with full travel. Again remove old fluid and replace. Do this 3-4 times or until your calf muscle cramps!

* Check the rear of the shifter housing to ensure the black plastic alignment grommet is in place: it is held in place by two small screws, best seen from under the car. Locate the shifter housing (a cast aluminum A-arm looking piece at the forward top portion of the transmission - with a good light you can verify that both screws are in place, and with a little macgyvering you may be able to tighten them further. Note: See my second post below that illustrates this cap at the end of the shifter housing.

* Check to make sure the shifter housing (the cast A-arm looking piece) is not cracked, also from under the car for best visualization; but this can also be viewed from the cabin if you remove the upper portion of the shifter mechanism (more involved). Note: See my second post below that illustrates this cap at the end of the shifter housing.

* Verifying that the shifter assembly clamp is aligned properly and very snug: this single bolt (explained further below) should be torqued to 22 foot-pounds.

In my case, having an aftermarket clutch, all of these pieces have been removed and reinstalled previously. my installer had issues with the shifter assembly clamp and apparently stripped the bolt somehow, likely contributing to my issues - but this can certainly happen to anyone.

Tools needed:
* A plastic body panel removal or srewdriver covered in tape
* a 10mm deep socket, a 12" extension and ratchet
* a 1/2" socket
* a good light

Link to Creative Steel install thread, outlining similar removal and reinstall: http://www.ctsvowners.com/forum/5-transmission/31110-creative-steel-shifter-install-instructions.html


Step 1: Sitting in the driver seat, take your trim removal tool to the wood grain or carbon fiber plastic panels on the side of the center console.
Step 2: Remove the two 10mm bolts under the trim pieces, at the front of the console
Step 3: Pull down/out the carpet next to the console revealing the 10mm screws holding the front of the console in, both at the front of the console on the bottom AND at the rear of the console on each side. You will have to move each seat all the way back and then all the way forward to reach these four bolts.

Step 4: Remove the E-Brake trim piece (the shifter boot): Pull up on both sides of the E-Brake trim piece from either the front or rear, using care to not break the tabs. There is a harness attached; press in on the harness clip to remove.
Step 5: Remove the shifter knob: Pulling of shift knob will take some force. Pull up while not having your face close to your hands so you don't hurt yourself. Twisting the shifter knob side to side will help move the spring-clip that keeps it in place via a notch in the shifter arm.
Step 6: Lift up on the center console - there is another wiring harness on the passenger side that can be partially unclipped, allowing you to CAREFULLY place the center console onto the passenger seat. Take care as to not scratch your center stack or damage the seat from sharp edges.

Step 7: You will see this: these 8 10mm bolts will need to be removed (I have an aftermarket shifter); removing the OEM shifter may vary slightly; alternative removal link here: http://www.ctsvowners.com/forum/5-transmission/31110-creative-steel-shifter-install-instructions.html


This is the little bastard that causes all of my problems:


Step 8: You can either remove the upper shifter assembly (if changing to aftermarket shifters) - in my case, I just rotated it out of the way as shown above. This is a 1/2" bolt - loosen it but there is no need to remove it.


Step 9: ALIGN THE SHIFTER: The factory shifter has a little 4mm L-shaped pin stowed in the front of the shifter assembly. Retrieve it, or use a 4mm hex wrench in its place. The alignment pin:


You will see an alignment hole at the REAR of the shifter housing, this is what sets the alignment:


NOTE: you can see a similar hole in the shifter rod inside the shifter housing in the above photo, slightly offset. Line up the holes so that you can place the guide rod into both - you will have to simultaneously hold up the shifter housing and wigging the shifter around to get the alignment pin to seat; this locks the shifter in place. Make sure you rotate the pin in such a way that it doesn't pull out when you let go of the housing, as the entire assembly will drop down (possibly pulling your pin back out). The shifter should still be "locked" in place.

Step 10: keeping everything more or less vertical and centered, tighten the Shifter assembly clamp bolt to 22 foot-pounds; or "three finger tight" with a small wratchet. You may initially fear that you've stripped the bolt - but I believe there is a compressive collar inside the clamp to help bite onto the shaft assembly, so you have to use common sense here.
Note: this clamp is cast aluminum, and only has ~3/8" of thread engagement (Thanks GM!) so take care not to over-torque it. If possible, degrease the shaft before lining everything up, taking care to focus on the correct portion of the shaft by moving the shifter around before inserting your guide pin.

Once you've tightened the bolt, remove the guide pin and put it back where you found it. Move the shifter around making sure the clamp is snug and working properly - then reinstall everything the same way you took it apart. I had to do this twice as I did not tighten the clamp bolt enough the first time, fearing I would strip the threads.

Worst case scenario: you strip the clamp bolt! Well, now you get to pull the exhaust and potentially remove the driveshaft to either drill out and re-tap the clamp, or use a through-bolt with a hex-relief on the end (the name escapes me); there may be other ways but that's what I plan on doing if I have to revisit this in the future.

Please feel free to add suggestions to this thread, as it was a bit frustrating for me to have the car disabled because of one freaking bolt on the shifter assembly!
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Manual pages for the above issue and reinstalling / aligning shifter:






GM Part Numbers (Just in case):
Assembly rod clamp: GM 19206520
Assembly rod clamp BOLT: GM 11515758 or 12553719 (Torx variant for corvettes). Tentativesizing: M8 x 1.25 x ~30mm
 

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Great write up for the M6 guys. Thanks. Way to finally contribute to the forum. I kid, I kid
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Great write up for the M6 guys. Thanks. Way to finally contribute to the forum. I kid, I kid
Someday I'll start doing back-to-back comparisons of things, like headers and ported superchargers... maybe even test those damn phenolic spacers I hear so much about! :D
 

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A6 for the win! :cool:
I remember going through all that shit with the V1. Are you able to install a quick bleeder to the slave cylinder?
 

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Awesome write up!
 

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ive been having the exact same problems i think you have found the solution. my installer did not align the shifter and ive been the problems listed above


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Discussion Starter #9
Fix it ASAP, you could potentially cause damage or at the least early clutch wear from interference if the misalignment is bad enough.

I am still having some occasional issues finding reverse and having "sticky" gears on start-up; but I'd say the symptoms are 60-70% improved and silky smooth once I get the car warmed up. It was an immediate improvement in shift effort and smoothness.

Still change your clutch fluid (Ranger method), consider verifying that the transmission is fully-topped off with the correct trans fluid (I would suggest staying with GM spec and just change every 30-40k miles), and keep an eye out for anything else weird....
 

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just did it today. putting the console back was a pain but it's pretty straightforward otherwise with the easy to follow instructions. reverse and 1st are buttery smooth now


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Thanks random for this post. I semi-regularly have to slip the stock clutch a little to get reverse to engage. First gear is no problem but the other day was not wanting to go but after a couple tries it did. I will remember this post if it gets worse - looks like a PITA fix. 95K miles
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Update:

So I adjusted it per the above and it helped. My tech looked at it also (after having some issues finding R) and adjusted it some more - it was perfect on the way home.

However today I got locked out of Reverse, as in "it just ain't gonna happen for you today" locked out of Reverse after fixing a slipped lower A-Arm bolt at the alignment shop....

And I have a misfire. ARG.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Update:

So I adjusted it per the above and it helped. My tech looked at it also (after having some issues finding R) and adjusted it some more - it was perfect on the way home.

However today I got locked out of Reverse, as in "it just ain't gonna happen for you today" locked out of Reverse after fixing a slipped lower A-Arm bolt at the alignment shop....

And I have a misfire. ARG.
And it works again. Like butter.

I've had to realign three times now - fixes it each time, but I'm guessing the collet /bolt is just not tight enough as it keeps slipping.

I'm contemplating drilling and tapping a small hole through the top of the clamp into the shift linkage rod just to give it a little more grip. Only problem is that may affect alignment down the road after clutch replacements, etc.

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Another update:



My recommendation: get a fully threaded bolt, M8 x 1.25 x 40 (min) or 45mm long max and run it through from the bottom. There should be enough room to keep from hitting the tunnel with a 45 mm long bolt threaded through from the bottom - but I haven't tested it yet so buy both and keep them on hand. A m8 1.25 x 40 is the minimum to have enough room for the top nut, so use a single nylon or locking flange nut and skip washers that take up more room.

This allows you to use the threads on the clamp to keep the bolt in place - allowing much more clamping torque from the nut on the top as normally accessed through the cabin (the bolt carries the clamping force instead of the soft aluminum clamp itself). I'd use a locking or nylon nut on top and red locktite on the bolt you'll run through from the bottom to help keep it from turning when you tighten from the top side.

The only caveat? You'll have to disconnect the driveshaft at the trans to get enough room. You should be able to do that without dropping the exhaust. I wanted to do it this way after getting under there but the local stores don't carry fully threaded bolts in that size.

If my first try (a threaded stud with nuts on each end) doesn't work - that's my fall back.

Either way mitigates the potential of stripping the threads on the clamp itself- which are ridiculously small (maybe a 1/4 inch of total engagement! ). I really leaned on it this way so I think I'm good - but that clamp is really easy to strip so I'd honestly suggest doing it this way the first time around.


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Another update:



My recommendation: get a fully threaded bolt, M8 x 1.25 x 40 (min) or 45mm long max and run it through from the bottom. There should be enough room to keep from hitting the tunnel with a 45 mm long bolt threaded through from the bottom - but I haven't tested it yet so buy both and keep them on hand. A m8 1.25 x 40 is the minimum to have enough room for the top nut, so use a single nylon or locking flange nut and skip washers that take up more room.

This allows you to use the threads on the clamp to keep the bolt in place - allowing much more clamping torque from the nut on the top as normally accessed through the cabin (the bolt carries the clamping force instead of the soft aluminum clamp itself). I'd use a locking or nylon nut on top and red locktite on the bolt you'll run through from the bottom to help keep it from turning when you tighten from the top side.

The only caveat? You'll have to disconnect the driveshaft at the trans to get enough room. You should be able to do that without dropping the exhaust. I wanted to do it this way after getting under there but the local stores don't carry fully threaded bolts in that size.

If my first try (a threaded stud with nuts on each end) doesn't work - that's my fall back.

Either way mitigates the potential of stripping the threads on the clamp itself- which are ridiculously small (maybe a 1/4 inch of total engagement! ). I really leaned on it this way so I think I'm good - but that clamp is really easy to strip so I'd honestly suggest doing it this way the first time around.


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Has your shifter kept alignment since this bolt mod?
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Has your shifter kept alignment since this bolt mod?
Yes. I've adjusted it a few times for various reasons the bolt has held. I'm mean to it when tightening up the bolt too!

To be clear, I am using a threaded stud with the bottom bolt secured with red locktite, and the top being a nylon nut; and it has stayed put after 4 removal/reinstallations. There is a risk the bottom bolt will eventually loosen - which is why I'd still recommend the bolt threaded in from the bottom; but it worked given the pinch I was in at the time.

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Next time mine comes apart I intent to do this. I believe my clamp is about done...
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Next time mine comes apart I intent to do this. I believe my clamp is about done...
My suggestion is to do it BEFORE the threads on the clamp strip out... will keep things a heck of a lot easier for you.
 

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Looks like you need to update your Photobucket account or migrate the files somewhere. Good info, though!
 

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Looks like you need to update your Photobucket account or migrate the files somewhere. Good info, though!
Yeah... just got that email. One more thing to do! I tried another hosting site and it was a total pain to use.

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