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Gearshift Rattle Repair

When i got the beetle, the gearshift made a rattling sound at certain speeds. My friend Greg said the solution was "keep your hand on the gearshift". Well...I don't think that it should work like that. Something rattling usually means that something's wearing, and things needlessly wearing is exactly what you don't want in a vintage car.

The failure is a simple one. The bottom of the gear shift connects to a "shift rod" that runs through the center tunnel to the back of the car under the center of the rear seat where it joins the rod that sticks out of the front of the transmission which in turns controls what gear the transmission is in. This rod ties to the transmission control rod at the back and is supported in the front by a bracket that is welded to the inside of the tunnel. To allow the shift rod to ride smoothly in the bracket, there's a plastic bushing that snaps into the bracket that in turn supports the shift rod. The bushing wears out over time (especially if it's not kept greasy), and it disintigrates and the fragments fall into the tunnel. So the rattling is the shift rod riding directly in the steel bracket in the tunnel, which doesn't hold it very tightly and and the shift rod will eventually wear a hole in the bracket if it's there for too long.

The repair is cheap, the bushing costs a dollar or something. The repair is simple in concept, you just replace the bushing. In practice, it's annoying and complicated. The new bushing has to be snapped into the bracket while the shift rod is out of the bracket. The fat end of the shift rod won't go through the bracket, so the shift rod has to be decoupled at the rear and slid forward through the tunnel toward the front of the car until it's out of the bracket. Once the bushing is replaced, then the shift rod has to be pulled back through the bracket and re-attached at the rear of the car. This wouldn't be that bad, except that the only way you can get to the shift rod is through the very small hole where the gear shift goes through the top of the tunnel to get to the shift rod. I can't even get a full hand in there, so it's a matter of being able to manipulate the shift rod by way of a pliers that sticks through the hole for the gear shift.

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