My shifter broke


Asked by veeps Aug 17, 2012 at 02:50 PM about the 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier LS Sport Coupe

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 2004 Chevy Cavalier automatic. Over the past couple of months, the shifter handle has been dangling on the verge of coming off. Yesterday, it came off and lots of plastic bits came out of it (the handle with the button depressor which allows you to shift gears). Now, it moves as if going into park, but won't start or make a sound. If I turn the ignition switch halfway on, it allows me to move the shifter around, but it doesn't really stick, say in reverse for example. It just sort of semi-freely goes from one gear to the next. But, since I can't get it into park, it won't start. And if I get it started, not sure how reverse and drive will work.

Can anybody help?

12 Answers


I noticed there were 0 answers out of all the latest threads...sad. Oh well. To clarify my question, is there a temporary fix or trouble shoot I can do at least to get my car home. Thanks in advance

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Kevin Robinson

if you take the cable off of shifter handle below boot cover you could move cable by hand and could move car until get new shifter asm.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
Jason Zane

the center console can you get off the shifter panel face or the side carpeted trim around the shifter? if u can, look at the cable inside that center shift compartment. is the cable attached to assembly? ========================== if it looks good.... ========================== look for the cable (usually) at the driver's side of the engine bay it will be on top of the transmission. (location might be below the throttle-body/ intake area.) see if you can spot the cable housing that exits the firewall area to the engine/transmission. it attaches to the cable assembly by a nylon insert on the cable. this part has gotten worn. there is a post that it attaches to to turn the bar to park , rev, & drive. have someone move the shift lever while you find the cable & shift assembly. good luck and hope you get it going!

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

Thanks guys. It was the linkage cable connecting to an assembly atop the engine, and I accessed it under the hood (after first getting to see what my shifter looks like sans a counsole). Jason, I think that's what you meant by "drivers side of the engine of the transmission". Honestly, I should have checked that first, since it didn't take any disassembly. The linkage was detached/broken, so until I can replace it, I was able to get it home by manually putting it in neutral from under the hood (Park being the adjustment nearest the front of the car, then neutral, then reverse...etc). I kept my emergency brake on while exiting the car to put it in park, after driving home - to lift the hood again and put into park. For those like me (who don't know much about modern cars), test your emergency brake before counting on it when you exit the vehicle. I'll try to add a photo later if I can. It's dark now.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

Clarification. When I said, "manually put into neutral", I meant that I used that instead of reverse, just to get back out of my parking spot. Then I manually put it into Drive, closed the hood, unlocked my emergency brake, and drove home.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Jason Zane

i'm glad you got the transmission shifted without it running away. i was kinda thinkin about that when i wrote it. i thought about the shifter first since you said plastic flew outta the shifter. after 20 years of use, my 89 riviera did the same thing. glad all went well.


Here is the photo of the pic, for two reasons. I want to know if this is, as it seems, a fairly simple fix - replacing a bushing or something, or if it's something more. Second, anybody else having this problem can see. Please, Jason (or other car ninjas), let me know if this is something you think I can fix myself. This photo is of the broken, transmission-side linkage to my shifter.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

Here is the shifter-side, where I believe I can see what the linkage SHOULD look like

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

I have a 1997 chevy cavalier and the Dorman Help part #74040 worked for my car perfectly. I thought I fixed it myself but it popped off half way through my day. So I took it to my mechanic and he put it on for free! He quoted me a $230 price to change the whole shift cable because he said that the suppliers don't sell just the rubber piece alone. Thanks to this thread and my long relationship with my mechanic, I saved that money all together. FIY: Non of the bushings in the brushing kit worked. The one that was similar to the #74040 didn't work because it was plastic and not rubber. For my car, it had to have some flexibility.


How did you fix this? I have the exact same problem in my 2003 cavalier. It is temporarily fixed using ziplocks. Do I need to change the entire shift cable ? Is there any easier fix?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Cindy Bushka

My cable has been fixed with zip ties...but now the handle has broken off and the little bits of plastic have fallen out as well. Can't get the knob back on to make it shift so I can't drive it. :-( The car has served me well and I can't get a new one at this point in time. Wish I could find an answer to this part of the question.


Hi cindy. I actually bought a new shifter cable online for $50 and got mine replaced. Spent around $80 labor. It works just fine. Hope this helps.

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