Srewy Stick Shift


My family owns a '03 BMW 325xi wagon with a 5-speed transmission. The car has clocked nearly 100,000 miles in it’s lifetime. Neither the clutch or transmission has been replaced. On Monday, when running through the gears (clutch depressed), The gear shifter went into neutral but instead of being centered, it leaned towards 5th gear. Although the shifter returned to its normal position as I drove, it has continued this habit every day since. What’s wrong and what should I do?

If it works fine, don’t worry about it.

Sure it works, but I fear that the link between the shifter and the transmission could be breaking. And with this car, that would be one hell-of-a repair bill.

I think that the shift linkage may be exhibiting signs of excess wear.

Just in case I am correct, I would suggest that you have this checked/repaired soon, rather than wind up stranded if and when the linkage fails to engage gears properly.

The shift linkage is off. This does not typically require any internal repairs. I would definitely have it look at before you find yourself stranded not being able to move gears.

That sounds like a good Idea. This car is stock, so I would assume that after 7 years of commuting to and from the city, the linkage would be near the end of its life.

how much would the repair bill be for the linkage?

You guys are thinking of shift linkages like we used to see on Muncie 4 speeds in GM vehicles, this is not how the BMW is. You have the shift lever that has a ball halfway or so down the shaft. This ball sits in a plastic cup that hangs on a bracket attached to the trans. At the underside of the car end of the shift lever is a boss (sort of like a clevis assembley) that holds one rod that runs back to the end of the trans and this rod clips on a shift rod that is sticking out of the trans, thats it. There could be loosness in the plastic bucket the shift lever ball sits in (there is a “C” clip retainer), or the bushings in either end of the clevis could be worn, or there could be wear in the clip that attaches the rod to the shift rod that exits the trans, or heavans forbid play where this outside rod grabs the individual rods that attach to the shift forks. If anyone has had the “nose cone” off a VW transmission and has seen the arrangement it is much like that. We used to call the rod that exits the trans the “hockey stick” because that is what it looks like. Under the nose cone there are three rods the hockey stick can push or pull on and these can get worn, but much more so in the VW not the BMW. For the BMW I would closely inspect the outside bushings. The outside linkage is very simple and is not adjustable, it is just one rod.

Thanks. I still don’t know how much that is gonna cost. If it’s too much, we’re just gonna trade the car in.

I do doubt the problem is external to the transmission, but it should be ckecked out.

It could also be that a motor mount broke.


does it really want to sit there (takes a little pull to move it) or is it just kind of lying there but takes no force to center?

It hasn’t done it for a while, but when it does, it takes a little force to move it. also, it feels very loose. It shifts normally, but the shifter feels loose.