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$5 Weighted Selector Rod
The shifting on some BMWs can feel a little "notchy" especially if you install a short throw shift kit because there is an increase in shift effort that is proportional to the shift throw reduction. There have been many devices developed to attempt to reduce that "notchiness" such as special bearings for the shift linkage points, devices to change the linkage angles and heavy weight shift knobs. One of the latest ideas is a heavy weight selector (linkage) rod. The extra mass uses inertia to help over come the "notchy" point where forks inside the tranny move cogs in to the next gear.
Does it work? Well, yes and no. If you're flipping between gears (example: 1st to 2nd) then you get that massive linkage rod moving fast enough to develop the inertia force necessay to over come the "notchy" point and slide right in to gear. However if you're shifting slowly or just moving the lever from neutral to first gear, there's really no difference from the stock selector rod.
Some companies sell a heavy weight selector rod for about $100, but you can make your own for only ~$5. It won't be as pretty as the $100 one, but it'll be under your car where no one will see it anyways. At the very least, you'll be able to test out the new "smoother" shifting to decide if you really want to spend the big bucks on the fancy version.
You will need the following parts/tools:
- Floor Jack
- Mechanix Gloves
- Wire snips
- 1 pound spool of plumber solder (from any hardware store)
- Electrical tape
Jack up the front of your car and support it with ramps and/or jackstands. Refer to the "how to jack up your car" article if you're not sure how to do so. If you want to live, do not work under your car without using ramps and/or jackstands!
While wearing your Mechanix gloves to pad your finger tips, reach up above the drive shaft, feel around for the ends of the selector rod, then push, pull and twist the circlips off of both ends. They aren't fun since there is very little room to get your hands in there. The pictures below were taken with the catalytic converter and driveshaft removed, it will NOT be that easy to reach the linkage on your car. The rear circlip has a tendancy to pop off and fall on top of the heat shield behind it, if (when!) it does, loosen the 10mm bolts attatching the heat shield, pull it down a little and then shake it to knock the circlip out. When you get the circlips off feel around right behind them and retrieve the yellow nylon washers. Then remove the selector rod. Make sure the yellow nylon washers on the selector rod side came off with the rod, if not feel around to see if they are stuck to the the lever or the selector pivot.
Clear off any grease or dirt off of the selector rod. Pick either end of the selector rod and start wrapping the solder around the rod about 1/2" inside of the linkage pin. Wrap the solder very tightly working your way towards the opposite end. When you get about 1/2" from the inside edge of the opposite linkage pin, start overlapping the solder and work your way back towards the side that you started from. When you finish with the overlapping layer you'll still have a little solder left, cut it off with wire snips. Wrap the solder with electrical tape to help hold it in place on the selector rod.
Make sure the yellow nylon washers are in place on the ends of the selector rod with the non-rounded side facing towards where the lever and selector pivot will be. Smear a little grease on the ends of the selector rod. Get back under the car and reinstall the selector rod. Have a friend shift through the gears slowly while you watch to make sure that the modified selector rod doesn't hit any thing. If it does, you may have to remove one layer of solder. Once you're sure everything is okay slip on the other yellow washers with the flat side facing towards the lever and selector pivot. Now the "fun" part. Push, pull and twist the circlips back in to place on the ends of the selector rod. Some will go on easily while others are a bit more stubborn.
Lower your car back down off the ramps/jackstands