How to Install a Short Shifter on a BMW E30

Written by chester rockwell
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How to Install a Short Shifter on a BMW E30
(Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Installing a short shifter on your BMW E30 3-series is an inexpensive way to shorten the length of shifts and make urban driving easier. It's also an important upgrade, if you are a competitive driver and want to reduce the amount of time it takes for you to change gears. There are a number of short shift kits available, and the installation process is the same for all. The task can be completed in about an hour.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Short shift kit
  • (2) Flathead screwdrivers
  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Lithium grease

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Remove the shift knob from your E30, by firmly grasping it and pulling upward with force.

  2. 2

    Remove the boot around the shift knob by unclipping it. If there is foam insulation under the shift boot, remove that, as well.

  3. 3

    Raise the E30 front end with the floor jack, and position it on the two jack stands.

  4. 4

    Go to the underside of your E30, and remove the securing clip at the end of the gear selector rod pin. This can be pried off, using a flathead screwdriver.

  5. 5

    Insert the heads of both screwdrivers into the opposite slots of the select arm bearing ring. Turn the ring one-quarter rotation, in a counterclockwise direction, to unlock it.

  6. 6

    Push the bearing through the shift lever housing. Go to your E30 interior, and remove the shift lever by sliding it up and out.

  7. 7

    Use the lithium grease to lubricate the inner portion of the gear selector arm housing.

  8. 8

    Place the new short shift lever into the gear selector arm housing.

  9. 9

    Lubricate the selector rod pin with the lithium grease, and insert the selector rod pin into the shifter bushings.

  10. 10

    Reinstall the rod pin securing clip that was removed in Step 4.

  11. 11

    Lower your E30, and remove the jack stands.

  12. 12

    Go to your E30 interior, and reinstall the foam insulation (if applicable), shift boot and shift knob. The shift knob can be reinstalled by sliding it over the metal gear selector rod and pushing down, until it clicks into place.

  13. 13

    The transmission must enter each gear by mimicking gear changes while the car is stationary and turned off.

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