How to Install a Short Shifter on a E36

Written by chester rockwell
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Installing a short shift kit in your BMW E36 3-series can help speed up gear changes and improve overall acceleration by reducing the amount of time spent shifting between gears as the lever does not have to travel as far. Many different short shifter kits are available, and E36 drivers can also use other factory BMW shifters, such as the Z3 shifter, which are shorter than the E36's stock shifter and offer backwards compatibility.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Large flathead screwdriver
  • Small flathead screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Get into the car and firmly pull up the shift knob to remove it.

  2. 2

    Remove the shift boot by slipping your fingers between the shift boot and the centre console and pushing it in toward the shifter to unclip it from each side.

  3. 3

    Remove the foam padding that sits below the shift boot to expose the metal shift lever.

  4. 4

    Get underneath the car and locate the gear lever, which will be located slightly behind the two front wheels in the centre of the car.

  5. 5

    Using the large flathead screwdriver, disconnect the clips that secure the shift lever to the shift rod. These clips can be identified by their yellow circular spacers.

  6. 6

    Pry up the straight metal BARB clip that sits under the car at the front of the shift carrier by using your flathead screwdriver. The clip is thin and vertically placed and can be pried up, like a switch, by applying leverage to the inside edge and pressing outward. It serves as a small mechanical lock for the shift carrier.

  7. 7

    Move toward the rear of the shift carrier and locate the round metal bushing. Pry the bushing out by using a small flathead screwdriver. You may need to work your way around the bushing to release it.

  8. 8

    Install the new shift carrier included with the short shift kit by bringing it under the car and pushing the BARB clip down until it snaps and the shift carrier is locked into place.

  9. 9

    Slide on the rubber bushing at the rear of the shift carrier, and push up on the bushing until it snaps into place.

  10. 10

    Push the new short shift lever down through the shift gate at the interior of your car. Push it down into the shift carrier until it snaps into place.

  11. 11

    Slip the foam padding that goes under the shift boot over the new shifter and into place.

  12. 12

    Slide the shift boot over the shifter and snap it into place on both sides. Push the shift knob down on to the shift lever until it's installed.

  13. 13

    Go back under the car and connect the gear lever to the shift rod by securing it with the same metal clip you removed earlier in the procedure to complete the installation.

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