How to Install the BMW 540i E39 Short Shifter

Written by william zane
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How to Install the BMW 540i E39 Short Shifter
(Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

A short shifter is a performance modification that enhances the shift throw of a BMW by shortening the distance the lever travels when the driver changes gears. This in turn makes the car feel more sporty and responsive. There are several brands of short shifter kits available for the E39 generation of the BMW 5 Series. This should be a relatively easy part for you to install, and it will result in an immediate and noticeable improvement in your driving experience.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Screwdriver
  • Socket set and ratchet
  • Allen wrenches

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  1. 1

    Park the vehicle on a level surface. Raise the front end of the BMW with a jack and lower the car onto jack stands for support. If you have a pair of ramps, drive the front of the car up on those.

  2. 2

    Remove the shift knob inside the BMW by pulling it straight up. Be careful so you avoid smacking yourself in the face when the knob pops off. Remove the shift boot by pulling it to the side and then out of the console. Remove the insulation and the rubber boot located under the outer boot.

  3. 3

    Remove the linkage retaining C-clip from under the BMW by pushing it off with a long screwdriver. The kit will come with a new clip, so don't worry about damaging it while removing it.

  4. 4

    Use the tool provided with the shift kit to move the lock on the shifter 1/4 turn counterclockwise. Remove the shifter.

  5. 5

    Adjust the height of the shift lever that came with the shifter kit to the desired height with an Allen wrench. Loosen the screw at the bottom of the shifter, adjust the height and tighten the screw.

  6. 6

    Install the bearings that came with the kit on the new shifter. Consult the directions that came with the shifter to determine the correct order to install the bearings and bushings.

  7. 7

    Install the new shifter. The shifter snaps into place, so you do not need to use the tool that was used to remove the old shifter. Install the new shift lever retaining clip by pressing it on with both hands. This may take considerable effort.

  8. 8

    Reinstall the rubber boot and the insulation over the shift lever from the interior side. Ensure that the boot and insulator are snugly and properly installed. Reinstall the outer shift boot. Reattach the shift knob.

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