This handy instructional guide will help you adjust the shifter system on your Vanagon with manual transaxle.
1. Please read this article first.
2. Make sure the following components are in good shape. We strongly recommend replacing them with new parts for your own sanity:
- Shaft bushings
- Plastic ball on transaxle
- Aluminum sleeve over plastic ball
- Plastic bushings on front shaft ears at shift box
(These four items are all found in our shifter system overhaul kit, available below!)
- Pivot assembly at base of shift lever
(This item is found in our front gear shifter repair kit, available below!)
3. Make sure transaxle is in NEUTRAL.
4. Loosen coupler between front and rear shift shaft halves.
5. Position shifter such that:
- Ears on front shift shaft are halfway between the gates, front/rear
- Shift lever is all the way to the right in the 3-4 shift gate
6. Tighten coupler.
7. Check shifting. Should go into 3rd/4th easily.
- If not, repeat steps 3-6 above.
- If yes, checking shifting into 1st/2nd.
- If 1st/2nd is good, you nailed it and you're done.
- If not, the ball on the transaxle axle is probably not moving in enough, and you will proceed as follows:
8. Install a vise-grip plier on either side of the shaft coupler:
- One on the front shaft, and one on the rear shaft
- Position them about 2" away from the coupler
- The handles of the pliers should be pointed down so that you can grab them both.
9. Using a black marker (like a Sharpie):
- Make a continuous, straight black mark on coupler and forward shaft.
- It is important that the black mark be continuous so you can clearly see any movement between the front shaft and the coupler.
10. Loosen coupler--BUT only loose enough to be able to move the front shaft in the coupler with some force using the vise-grip pliers.
11. Adjust the front/rear shafts very, very slightly:
- The amount of movement you are trying to achieve is about 1/2 the width of the black mark. The system is that sensitive.
- Rotate the rear shaft relative to the front shaft counter clockwise (looking forward).
- Hold the vise-grip on the front shaft while pushing the vise-grip on the rear shaft toward the passenger side of the vehicle.
- This will push the ball in the transaxle further in, which is what you want.
12. Tighten coupler.
13. Remove pliers.
- NOTE: You must remove the pliers before you check the shifting; otherwise, their presense will affect the feel at the shifter.
14. Check shifting.
15. Repeat steps above as needed. We find that beer and time tend to stave off frustration!