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On the Road with a Broken Shifter Cable: What You Need to Know

A faulty car component always brings the passengers danger. And one of the most underrated components is the shifter cable of a car when you consider the faults in your car. However, the shifter cable also needs your attention when it is broken. Because when the shifter cable does not function properly, the transmission will no longer be put into the right gear. Can you drive a car with a broken shifter cable? Today, we are going to discuss the potential risks when you drive with a faulty shifter cable. If you have been making this mistake, you are highly encouraged to keep reading.

What is a Shifter Cable? 

The shift cable (the shift selector) is responsible for making the connection between the shift lever assembly and the transmission. Although it is a simple component of the unit, its job is important. When you move the gear shifter handle, this cable puts the transmission into the right gear. A shifter cable’s lifespan depends on its usage because it can wear out like any other automobile part. In general, it can last 5 to 8 years.

There are two kinds of transmissions; both automatic and manual transmissions come with this shifter cable and do the same task. However, the way that the shifter cable perform varies. Automatic transmission is usually supported by a single shifter cable, while manual transmission cars can have a couple of shifter cables.

When there is a faulty shifter cable, the shifter handle is unable to come back to its neutral position. Although it does not disturb driving, it can be dangerous.

How does a Shifter Cable Break? 

If your shifter cable has stretched over time, it can be broken easily. This is the very first reason we can identify in this case. There is a high chance for the shifter cable in manual transmission vehicles to break since it is often used when compared to automatic transmission vehicles.

Stretching and breaking can be quicker due to bad driving habits. If you shift the gear speedier, the cable can stretch quickly. And another thing is jamming which causes a stretched shifter cable. So, you need to be cautious when you shift gears then you can avoid these repairs and replacements.

Signs of a Broken Shifter Cable 

These signs can help you to decide whether your shifter cable is broken.

  1. Most significantly, there will be issues in gear shifting. You will not be able to shift the gears as quickly as you did. Sometimes, there will be no changes in gear shifting at all. This sign is the earliest one in a faulty shifter cable.
  2. You are unable to know the exact gear you should use to stop the car. So sometimes, the car does not turn off, although the key is removed.
  3. When the shifter cable is broken, the indicator of your car will not change, although the gear is changed. The indicator should be matched with the gears. You can do this as a test to recognize whether your shifter cable is broken or not as well.
  4. Another sign is starting the car with a different gear. The gear you left can be changed due to a stretched shifter cable.

VIDEO CREDITS: Top 5 Auto Repairs YouTube Channel

Is it Safe to Drive with a Broken Shifter Cable? 

It is dangerous to drive if you have a broken shifter cable. Technically, it is possible to drive with a broken shifter cable, but when the cable malfunctions, the transmission of your vehicle does not have the required leverage for a gear-changing task. As a result, the park’s position will remain. Thus, you cannot identify the exact gear position while driving. It is not safe because shifting gears is needed when you want to speed up the vehicle, take a turn, and so on. If you notice that your shifter cable is broken, do not delay to replace it.

What Should you Do if your Shifter Cable is Broken? 

You need to replace the shifter cable if you notice it has been broken. If you want to do it by yourself, here is the complete guide.

  1. First, park the car in a safe place and let it cool down.
  2. Then, the old shifter cable should be disconnected. You can see there is a clip that connects the cable to the transmission. You can remove it.
  3. Now you can pull the cable out and eliminate the gearstick.
  4. The other end of the cable is connected to the gearstick, so remove that end too. Then you have completely disconnected the cable.
  5. Take the new cable and place it where the old cable was. Clip the cable to connect it to the transmission.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Broken Shifter Cable? 

The cost to fix a broken shifter cable depends on the transmission the particular automobile has. In other words, automatic transmission vehicles need a single shifter cable, while manual transmission vehicles should be replaced with dual shifter cables. If you have an automatic transmission vehicle, you can expect a cost between $290 to $330. In contrast, the cost of manual transmission vehicles can lie between $450 to $500 because there are some additional parts and higher labor costs.

If you have enough knowledge regarding shifter cable replacements, it is okay to do it by yourself. Then the only cost will be the price of a shifter cable that is compatible with your vehicle type. In general, the price of a brand-new shifter cable is around $125, and they are available in any auto parts store.

Can you Prevent Shifter Cable Issues?

Yes, you can control the wear and tear of shifter cables if you maintain good driving practices. Basically, you should not shift gear rapidly. If not, the shifter cable can wear out quickly. What happens is it stretches unnecessarily, so you will not be able to use it throughout its estimated lifespan. If you are new to driving, you might make these mistakes, so learn the correct techniques.

If you want to prevent shifter cable issues, you need to improve good driving habits patiently. Otherwise, there will be issues such as inadequate leverage for your transmission.

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