Sticking Shift Lever

My 1972 BMW 2002 has had a transmission sticking problem since it was new The shift lever would require considerable force to go from any forward gear into neutral. Often this shift would be accompanied by a metallic ping.

I took my car to various serious organizations and got the following diagnoses:

  1. Very unusual.
  2. They all do that.
  3. Your syncromesh is wearing in.
  4. Your syncromesh is wearing out.
  5. The gear selector sleeves are wearing out.

Replacing the syncromesh did not solve the problem. I was resigned to my fate.

At 75,000 miles I replaced the drive shaft rubber donut. With this part removed, I was able to work the shift lever from underneath the car. I observed a small, normally “on” push switch that was attached, to the upper transmission support frame. This switch, which is part of the seat belt warning system, was activated by a cam attached to the shift lever lower linkage. The cam depressed the switch plunger when the transmission was in neutral.

Unfortunately, the cam was not long enough since the switch plunger came off the cam face when the transmission was in any forward gear. The plunger had to ‘step up” onto the cam face when I shifted into neutral. This required considerable force and produced a metallic ping.

I removed the switch and taped the associated wires to the transmission support bracket. This totally corrected the problem.

This switch is difficult to see when the drive shaft is in place. However, if vou follow the wires attached to the lower transmission support bracket, you will find the switch.

Author: Henry Stahle, Jr.


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