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blanchae

5 speed tranny adjusting shift linkage

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I have a 1999 Cougar with the 2.5l and 5 speed (I believe it's the MTX) transmission same as the Contour. I had a problem shifting into 1st gear and then into 2nd. Also down shifting into either 1st or 2nd. You would describe it as a knotchy shifter. Eventually, you would have to pop the shifter sideways into neutral then back into 1st or 2nd. 

 

The solution is to adjust the tranny linkage which is actually very easy if you know what to do. Unfortunately, there is little specific info on the Internet that describes clearly what to do. You need two people to do this: one to adjust the linkage and the other to hold the shifter in position.

 

  • Jack the car high enough to crawl under the drivers side.
  • Remove the drivers front wheel.
  • The transmission side linkage is accessible through the wheel well (no panels to remove). 
  • I've linked to a picture that shows the linkage as I forgot to take pictures.

Linkage2.jpg

  • It shows the lower white linkage removed because the bushing tends to wear out and they were replacing the bushing. Symptoms are sloppy shifter with lots of play. You do not have to remove or unclip the linkage to adjust it. 
  • The lower white linkage is used to shift between 1-N-2, 3-N-4, 5-N-R (often called the vertical positioning)
  • The upper black linkage is used to align the Neutral positions (often called the horizontal positioning)

To adjust

 

  • Have your helper sit in the car and hold the shifter in the Neutral position of 5-N-R. Do NOT move the shifter.
  • You press the orange button in on the white linkage and wiggle the transmission  lever a little to make sure that it is in neutral position then release the orange button. You can see in the picture the "locked" position of the orange button. You just have to push it in so that it is flush with the white part.
  • You press the orange button in on the black linkage and wiggle the transmission lever just to seat everything.
  • Done! Take it for a test drive.

 

Note: Many places on the Internet had similar instructions but said vaguely to hold the shifter in Neutral (which one?) and Ford's instructions said to hold the shifter in the Neutral position of 3-N-4. Those did not work for the tough 1-2 shift. Holding it in the Neutral position of 5-N-R did the trick as you maximize the mechanical movement from 5-N-R to 1-N-2 In my case, the transmission now shifts beautifully.

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I just replaced my collets with salvage ones since the adjuster locking tabs broke on me while repairing/fabbing bushings..thanks for the write up. My shifter-holder person was unavailable, and ill add that I was able to reach behind the brake booster on my 2.0, and withing two tries moving the adjuster slightly from driver to passenger side, (r to L) got what i needed  on the neutral lever..the white collet needed almost nothing...car on ground.

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2 years later, I have to adjust the linkage again. I'm pretty sure that adjusting it is to compensate for worn components: bushings and cable linkage. Basically did the same adjustment and it is better, not great. Next summer, I'll replace the cables and bushings, in the meantime, I'll collect the replacement parts. As a side note, shifting is more difficult when the car is cold versus when it's warm, it shifts fine. There was a Ford tech bulletin that came out that now recommends synthetic 5W20 oil for all Cougar manual shift transmission rather then the Ford product. I replaced the tranny fluid with synthetic 5W20 and will see if it helps. This is a picture of the adjustments at the transmission which is missing from the original post:

 

CougarTranny.jpg

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TIPS:

 

If your helper has the transmission shifter held in the 5-N-R neutral position, it will be very difficult to push in the orange buttons as there will be lots of pressure on the cable. Instead, with shifter in normal resting neutral position and no pressure applied, push in the orange button (which will be easy to push in), then have your helper move the shifter to the 5-N-R neutral position.

 

Sometimes the bushings on the end of the cables wear out causing excessive play, the cables are almost impossible to find now and you may be able to replace just the bushings. Here's a link on how to replace the cables

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