"Can't Replace / Fix Shifter Cable - Have to Replace [Auto] Transmission"


I just received the following voicemail from a mechanic:

“The cable for the transmission is not engaging into drive and the other gears…

…in most other transmissions, you can re[place] / fix the cable to get it to go into gear…

…for this particular transmission you can’t fix the cable. If the cable is broken, you cannot get the transmission to work, so you end up needing to replace the transmission…”

This is for a 95 Mitsubishi Mirage LS Coupe (1.8 Liter variant) with an automatic transmission.

I would assume he’s talking about the shifter cable, which can be had for $50 - $100 (?). I’m not a mechanic by trade, but the transmission didn’t show any signs of slippage or refusing to go into gear sporadically when it failed (or didn’t fail - just seems like it’s stuck in neutral).

Are there any other “linkage” cables to the tranny that I should be worried about? (E.g., is there a high chance he’s talking about the shifter cable?) Are there really automatic transmissions on the market from 15 years ago that are so non-modular that a broken cable can force the entire transmission to have to be replaced?

This is a pretty decent car that seems to have life left on it, even if it’s at 200K miles (put 12K~ or so on it so far), and it gets me 35+ MPG on my hour trip into work, but I can’t see replacing the transmission for possibly $500+ on a car that’s worth maybe $1200. (Just replaced the flex pipe, some of the exhaust hangers, power steering pump, and belt tensioner to boot - all normal wear and tear after 15 or so years.)

Thanks for your responses - I’d like to be prepared before I return his call.


I do not see replacing an entire transmission because of a cable. Granted, sometimes parts can be difficult or even impossible to find in the aftermarket but there’s always the dealer option on the part or if a mechanic is creative enough it’s not that difficult make or repair a cable that has broken.

I have a Mitsubishi Eclipse transmission and a Galant engine/transmission unit sitting here. Will take a look at them today and will post back tonight. These should be no different from a Mirage and may even interchange. Scrapping a transmission because of a cable makes no sense to me at all and I’ve never heard of such a thing.

After looking at the 2 Mitsubishi transmissions I have (one of them a '95 Galant which may be identical to the Mirage) I fail to see where the logic about replacing the trans because of a broken cable.

Both transmissions have shift shafts in the transmission with an external shift lever. Each trans has an external bracket where the cable is mounted and then attaches to the lever. In a nutshell, the cable is a complete and separate part from the transmission.

Your description and (extremely-quick) response is very helpful. :slight_smile:


That’s an interesting statement that you were given by the mechanic. You might keep us up to date on what transpires with this because I for one am somewhat curious about it.

I’ll let you know.


Tell him you are going to come down to his shop and you want him to show you why the cable cant be replaced by itself. Either way, whatever he tells you, pay him for his time and take your vehicle elsewhere for a second opinion.


A quick look at several parts houses sites and eBay shows no shift cable is available so maybe this is a dealer only item.
Theorizing a bit here, maybe the cable cannot be had in the aftermarket and the mechanic is using the logic (skewed logic IMO) that another cable can only be had along with a used transmission from the salvage yard. ???

It’s not that difficult to repair a cable in most cases if it comes down to that. A little ingenuity and some silver solder can work wonders; assuming the shift cable is the problem and that it’s not available from the dealer anymore because of obsolescence.