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Side to Side stiff - Sticking Shifter Cable?
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Thread: Side to Side stiff - Sticking Shifter Cable?

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    Enthusiastically Slow Lifetime Member Ando's Avatar
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    Question Side to Side stiff - Sticking Shifter Cable?

    Hi All,

    My shifter has been a little sticky the past month. This morning my car was utterly miserable to drive. I'm thinking it's due to the side to side cable.

    2013 Abarth
    TWM Shifter
    BushingFix urethane cable end bushings (shouldn't make a difference)

    Right away after installing the TWM shifter this winter there was a noticeable difference with the shifter returning to center between 3rd and 4th. The TWM unit does not use the OEM shifter's torsion spring on the side to side linkage. That's fine, I got used to it in no time. Fast forward to June and I notice that when the weather gets humid, my side to side action requires more effort. We are keeping the Mini clean as we are trying to sell it so I lost my garage spot and have been parking outside. It has been noticeably worse, but not difficult to drive. As of this morning the car is no longer easy to drive, the side to side action is so sticky that half of the time I overshoot 3rd/4th.

    Only side to side action is difficult, which is why I believe it to be a cable issue and not my aftermarket shifter. I admittedly have not removed my boot to check on the grease on the ball of the shifter but I suspect it is in good condition as front to back motion feels as good as ever.

    If my suspicions are correct, what is my best course of action for freeing up my cable? WaterDisplacement-40 seems like a good idea if the cable has indeed been gummed up by ambient moisture. I imagine I would want to leave a lubricant in the cable jacket though. I'm off in a different vehicle to do family stuff, I'll post updates when I get home and get a chance to take a look. Any suggestions based on what I've shared? Thanks in advance!

    -Ando
    Last edited by Fiat500USA; 06-08-2019 at 11:43 AM. Reason: edited title for easier searching

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    The most likely cause of this is rust on the linkage pin that controls side to side transitions on the top of the transmission. You'll need to remove the roller pin, clean off the corrosion, and apply some good quality white lithium grease. Side to side action should be firm but not difficult.

    For some more information in case you're confused, the roller pin I'm talking about is part of the transmission itself. You know where the side to side cable bushing is connected? That linkage connection is part of the roller pin that slides through a sheathe and connects to the main part of the linkage with a 17mm nut and washer. You'll have to remove the battery and tray as usual to do this job, and it's easy to lose the washer. I did, lol. Luckily it's not actually needed, but be careful regardless. Also don't let the linkage pin that connects behind the nut fall out of its slot under the rubber boot, lightly zip tie it to something to hold it in place. If you lose that connecting piece you are completely screwed. I used a scotch brite pad to remove the corrosion. Good luck.

    If you want to install new cables as well, now is the time. It's an annoying process but I'm glad I did, the newer cable revision has some changes and overall just feels nicer on my 2013.
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    Enthusiastically Slow Lifetime Member Ando's Avatar
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    Hey Ice,

    Thanks for the response. I was afraid this might be the case. I'm still visiting with the inlaws but plan to take a look at the cabin side when I get home. Not motivated enough to go into the engine bay tonight but hopefully tomorrow.

    As a visual learner I'll probably need to find videos to ensure we're talking about the same parts.

    How much are the new cables? I'd hate to replace them unnecessarily but shift feel is a big deal for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ando View Post
    Hey Ice,

    Thanks for the response. I was afraid this might be the case. I'm still visiting with the inlaws but plan to take a look at the cabin side when I get home. Not motivated enough to go into the engine bay tonight but hopefully tomorrow.

    As a visual learner I'll probably need to find videos to ensure we're talking about the same parts.

    How much are the new cables? I'd hate to replace them unnecessarily but shift feel is a big deal for me.
    I paid $120 on a different forum, but that was from someone who ordered them and then decided to just change the bushing ends. Online prices seem to be around $130 ish, who knows at the dealer though. If you do opt to install new cables, realize that to get the white lock collars off the end of the trans you have to pull back on the white part towards the passenger side of the car which releases the lock and allows you to get it out. I had to talk to a tech to figure that out because I was stuck.
    2013 Fiat 500 Abarth in Grigio - Veruca
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    Enthusiastically Slow Lifetime Member Ando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ice445 View Post
    Online prices seem to be around $130 ish, who knows at the dealer though. If you do opt to install new cables, realize that to get the white lock collars off the end of the trans you have to pull back on the white part towards the passenger side of the car which releases the lock and allows you to get it out. I had to talk to a tech to figure that out because I was stuck.
    That's what I seemed to remember, not too bad, but my back aches just thinking about reaching over the bumper and into the trans area / firewall. I appreciate the info. I just got everything back together from trying to wick some runny lithium grease into the cable from the passenger side and I suspect your prognosis is correct, though it does bother me how the difficulty seems to come and go depending on the day. I would think if it were corrosion it would be consistently stiff. Owell, knowing how bad that area of the engine bay looked when I replaced bushings this is probably good preventative maintenance even if it settles down in the next day when humidity drops below 60%.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ando View Post
    That's what I seemed to remember, not too bad, but my back aches just thinking about reaching over the bumper and into the trans area / firewall. I appreciate the info. I just got everything back together from trying to wick some runny lithium grease into the cable from the passenger side and I suspect your prognosis is correct, though it does bother me how the difficulty seems to come and go depending on the day. I would think if it were corrosion it would be consistently stiff. Owell, knowing how bad that area of the engine bay looked when I replaced bushings this is probably good preventative maintenance even if it settles down in the next day when humidity drops below 60%.
    Rust is porous and humidity tends to make it swell, that's why it randomly gets worse. Mine was the same way. And you bet my lower back hurt for a full day after doing that job. Replacing shifter cables is mostly straight forward but quite unfun for sure.
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    Nobody posting here in this particular forum thread has mentioned the actual gearbox on the Abarth, but I can tell you from experience (I own an early-delivery, May 2012, Abarth) that in spite of FIAT's claim that the gearbox oil is "for the lifetime of the vehicle" the gearbox will become notchy and more and more unwilling as the miles add up. By the time my 2012 reached the mid 30-thousand mile mark I was getting fed up with the gearbox feel so I replaced the fluid (using the FIAT-specified original fill fluid). I'm just about to cross 40,000 miles now and the shifting feels like it did when the car was new.

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    Enthusiastically Slow Lifetime Member Ando's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reminder ewflyer! That is on my list as well as gearbox noise was bugging me this winter, hopefully between the two items the Abarth will be back to slick shifting. I'm at 5 winters and 50k miles so I'd say it's due for fresh fluid.

    My studio was very honest with me about gearbox oil saying that for year round MN cars they encourage people to replace the "lifetime" fluid at 100k or even as low as 60k if the car is being abused like it should. I've been told that with the exception of some tight spots that might need special tools it's an easy job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ewflyer View Post
    Nobody posting here in this particular forum thread has mentioned the actual gearbox on the Abarth, but I can tell you from experience (I own an early-delivery, May 2012, Abarth) that in spite of FIAT's claim that the gearbox oil is "for the lifetime of the vehicle" the gearbox will become notchy and more and more unwilling as the miles add up. By the time my 2012 reached the mid 30-thousand mile mark I was getting fed up with the gearbox feel so I replaced the fluid (using the FIAT-specified original fill fluid). I'm just about to cross 40,000 miles now and the shifting feels like it did when the car was new.
    I replaced the gearbox fluid on mine at 48K and noticed no change in shifting behavior at all. I also recommend doing it though since synchro brass and gear metal (from lot porters and techs slamming it into reverse without waiting) will likely be present.
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    Hello again! Humidity is rising and I need to get this taken care of before weekend autoX (it's been a peach the last couple of ~50% RH days).

    I had a hell of a time finding good images of the C510 trans linkages but I found the one below courtesy of 4H-Tech. Thanks guys!

    Anyways, I highlighted the troublemaker pin with orange (logically). So, immobilize the linkage heading into the rubber boot, remove pin, clean pin, grease pin, re-assemble. This sounds easier now that I can visualize the job.

    Am I missing anything? I'm not motivated enough to do cable replacements this week, maybe a weekend in the future when my wife is working. Though I am going to remove the counterweight this time around (I'm running an 800g shift knob).

    C510 SS (close).jpg

    Thanks for the assist FIAT-fam!
    Last edited by Ando; 07-20-2018 at 08:23 AM.

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