can't find 1988 MANUAL shifter cable


Asked by Sep 11, 2015 at 10:09 PM about the 1988 Toyota Camry LE V6

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 1988 2.5 V6 (the V6 option was I'm told a mid year introduction, an 88 1/2 some say) with a sweet 5 speed (and only 108K!!). The shifting is messed up so second and fourth gears don't seat correctly (and when you pull out of 5th the shifter doesn't slide back to the middle - making it sit above reverse!). This happened when the garage pulled the tranny and threw in a new clutch (grrr, all because a freeze plug corroded when I neglected the radiator for many years; the rust compromised a freeze plug, requiring tranny pull to get access). They say the new problem is with the shift cable which should now be replaced.

Is there any chance I can find one? It's easy to locate them for automatics, but not manual.

27 Answers

Try eBay..

How does a shift cable become damaged when a clutch is replaced? DID you verify with your own eyes or are we to assume the folks who screwed up your tranny are truthful? Well...I wonder if there still are folks who will take your shift cable and "rebuild" it?

1 people found this helpful.

It's messed up. They analyzed under hood while I shifted and are positive the cable is messed up; they admit doing it and will "rebuild" it unless I can find one. They couldn't find one. They tried very hard with dealers and junkyards and suppliers and keep getting "we don't have much over 10 years old." Even junkyards discard cars this old, it seems. Ebay only seems to have cables for automatics for 1988. I hoped that there would be something compatible (a substitute). This part being simply nonexistent out there really makes me worry about keeping the car now, low mileage or not.

You can do this. "Make" your own. You know. "Modify" one...You can do this..You gone this far. It's not as bad as you may think...

I would be inclined to let them "rebuild" ever they "broke".....while you search for a genuine replacement part. There should be folks out there that stock old Toyota Parts.

Yes!!! Exactly. Man, that's the spirit. If u r driving something else. Make it a project. That's a sweet ride!

Try I see a picture of what might be your shifter...and....its cables. Let us know what you think.

1 people found this helpful.

Check this out

2 people found this helpful.

Hey, thanks for the enthusiastic replies guys! jp-carparts could be promising! The best outside tip I got was to order the part from Japan. I couldn't make out a link above but I got to but I'm not sure what - trim type I have (GT, VE, VL, ZE, etc.) - the back of the car just says V6 and TOYOTA CAMRY. It has cruise, front center console, intermittent, though they could have been add ons. - I have a 4 door with a regular roof - is that HT hard top or SED sedan? - They don't even show a V6 until late 1990. All I see under the hood is V6 FOUR CAM and 2.5 plate on the manifold, nothing like 1VZFE or 3SFE or such. The driver door sticker and plate don't say, but that sucker does run 4122 pounds. I remember my parents 1970 GM cars being over 2 tons! So first, so I'm just a tad less clueless about what I have, help decoding my exact model above would help. Anyway, I clicked on all of these SV21-JEMMK 1988/08 - 1990/07 3SFE/SED/LUM/MTM/5F/CAM SV21-JEMGK 1988/08 - 1990/07 3SFE/SED/ZX/MTM/5F/CAM SV21-JEMVF 1988/08 - 1990/07 3SGE/SED/GT/MTM/5F/CAM VZV20-JEMQK 1988/08 - 1990/07 1VZFE/SED/PRO/MTM/5F/CAM SV25-JEMNK 1988/08 - 1990/07 3SFE/SED/XT/MTM/5F/CAM SV25-JEMEK 1988/08 - 1990/07 3SFE/SED/ZE/MTM/5F/CAM SV22-JEMDM 1988/08 - 1990/07 4SFI/SED/LT/MTM/5F/CAM SV22-JEMNM 1988/08 - 1990/07 4SFI/SED/XT/MTM/5F/CAM SV22-JEMMM 1988/08 - 1990/07 4SFI/SED/LUM/MTM/5F/CAM SV22-JEMEM 1988/08 - 1990/07 4SFI/SED/ZE/MTM/5F/CAM VZV20-JTMQK 1988/08 - 1990/07 1VZFE/HT/PRO/MTM/5F/CAM to see if I could see that cable for these since these are all MTM 5 on the floor. I didn't find the cable diagram under power train on those, though it could be under something else like gear shift fork or something. So I'm fearing that you got to that from an automatic. Can you check please? P.S. I found a great model history for Camry at Camry I bet you guys hit those sites a lot.


Sorry, I can't get linefeeds in my replies, making it harder to read, though the original post preserved them.

Correct I.D. of your engine can be found either under the hood of this vehicle on a white label. Or....this label may be on the radiator cowl There also might be a similar I.D. label on the tranny. .Go to,com....then go to "inquiry". Fill out the form the best you can and let them figure out the correct part #s. Including the VIN says a lot about your vehicles. Good Luck

1 people found this helpful.

Wow, thank you for your persistence. The sticker was under the hood, last place I'd look; it's a 2VZ-FE. They don't have that shown at jp! I filled the inquiry out anyway. (According to Wikipedia, at least, my car with the V6 really seems to be an 88 1/2 limited edition; but that engine appears to have been in 1988-1991. That's one heck of a diagram you found, if you can rediscover the web link in your history! Way to go. Other than fashioning one, jp seems to be a real hope. THANK YOU, each.

Let's see what jp-carparts response is then we will go from there. might want to consider a call or two to various Toyota Dealers who are willing to research a part# or two for these cables. Some of these guys SAVE the old Toyota parts books for just this occasion. Ask for the Parts Dept. Good Luck

1 people found this helpful.

Thanks so very much. They answered fast, but everything's on hold for a day or two - to be continued.


Good call. They sent me a diagram with the two cables and 50 clips and connectors, and said, which parts do I want? I could just say sent the two cables and housing alone, or I could list every part number on the diagram; would I end up paying through the nose if I did that? Do they only sell everything one part at a time, or have you been able to direct them to send fully rigged assemblies?

Suggest you get together with the folks who will be doing the repair. They broke it....they should be responsible for ordering the parts required to perform a quality fix. I would definitely negotiate who will be responsible for the cost of these parts and the repair. BTW...I notice on EBAY, some one is selling 2 repair manuals for you vehicle, for about $25.00. One is the FACTORY service manual......the other is the FACTORY electrical repair manual . Might be nice to have around to reference further repairs for those not familiar with this vehicle.

1 people found this helpful.

Thank you on the manuals, smart thinking. I just have a Chilton. Yes, I get your point - FACTORY! Thanks for taking the trouble to say. Your comments are good. However let me note that my garage is honest and they have cut me great breaks over the years, fought for parts warranty, done valuable extras I didn't request - it's a mutually cooperative relationship. In this part ordering, first, they are not experienced or efficient with internet ordering since they only use their trusted suppliers and dealers. Second, for them to do something they're inefficient with cuts into their time they can be fixing cars, whereas I can do this on my own time - everybody's better off. I wrote JP asking the cost for just two cables or a whole assembly 12 hours ago, nothing back yet. I asked here about the process because I don't know how they operate and I don't know if I could get an English speaker on the phone or if written orders risk translation errors. This is an adventure for me! I'm never dreamed I would be doing business directly with Japan.

Message received and understood. Good Luck


Thank you for your inquiry. 33821 is 33821-32183. 33822 is 33822-32103. Unfortunately, these parts are not available in Japan. We can not find used parts, either. I am truly sorry for not being able to help you. Best Regards, Shintaro


Oh NOOOO! So the garage attempted a fix, said they did as much as they could do, and now I usually get 2nd, 4th, REV okay but 3rd and 5th suck now. What do I do now? I'm not qualified to fix a cable myself and I seem to be out of purchase options. I think next option is transmission shops, and ask and re-ask everyone: "who locally can fashion me a cable?" OMG, JP didn't have a single option, no substitute, nothing :( :( :(


Well with JP giving me the part numbers I was able to google them, holy cow, $175 and $155 just for cables. Well I just have to love the car, think like I'm paying a veterinarian - and of course I'm stuck. Those are OEM 12 mo. unlimited from Toyota Guess that's my next move! if this happens to help anyone reading this. Note, these also go on Lexus 1990-91 ES250

Well......what an interesting development this are my thoughts. Without being on site to inspect this vehicle, I would be inclined to MANUALLY shift this tranny through all gears at the transmission with cables DEtached. I would want to rule out any internal tranny problem. These trannys are noted for 5th gear engagement problems when the tranny is low on fluid. Then...with the cables detached...I would manually shift into all gears to rule out any problems with the SHIFTER. Then I would turn my attention to obtaining the CORRECT part #s for what ever needs to be replaced. Without correct PN...your going to be back to square one.

BTW....I called local Toyota dealer. Their computer comes up with the following part #s. #33821-32183...... AND.....#33820-32190. How does this compare with your research? They(Toyota) indicates these parts are no longer available at any Toyota Dealer in the USA.

1 people found this helpful.

According to JP, 33820-32190 is for an earlier model. The other (33821-32183) came up at 2 dealers and 4 online parts sellers, as well as 33822-32103. So it looks like I can get them for $340. I'm ordering and crossing my fingers.

Sounds like a plan. Let's hope Old Parts and New Parts look alike. Keep us up to date on the progress and final solution to this issue.


Update to old thread. I nor anyone could locate the cable. As the problem arose when the tranny was pulled in order to access the corroded/leaking freeze plugs, it was an expensive outing. However they did craft the existing cable so I have full function, as least for now. More trauma, right after that the water pump failed, supposedly also from that red-brown rust saturated cooling system contents. And, as seems to happen every couple of thousand of miles, despite my easssssy going handling, I spent more money on yet another CV joint or axle or other critical suspension item. And the suspension is noisier than ever with that squishy bushing noise, despite replacing them 7,000 ago. But what can I say? Suspension repair is the all time golden goose of automotive repair shops. (As to the rust: the car ran so cool, and never lost water, so I never bothered with it. Didn't even ever have to top it off, oddly. I drove it so very little, that 12 year old hoses still all were perfect - they really were. All this means, I never flushed the system, and it got completely rusted on freeze plugs and radiator and water pump. When the freeze plugs failed, a river of red-brown fluid showed under the car.) Anyway, the cable is apparently an item that I can't replace, so I just hope it holds together; I don't even know if the next mechanic can even save it if it fails again. The whole extremely expensive process affected me. I was in love with the car, a special limited edition built-in-Japan 1988 V-6, and unlike other peoples' preference, for me I consider having a 5-speed a sweet advantage. Also power options, cruise, tilt, etc.. And being a Toyota, everything worked, nearly cherry. But after this, and realizing that in the blink of an eye it could become undrivable and unrepairable with practically no recourse, made me very detached from the car now. Until now, I could always get parts easily because there were a zillion 1988 Camrys, a zillion I tell you. But somewhere in the past few years it changed from a car that I could get all kinds of parts for, easily, OEM and other, into a car where I don't know if I can get every part I need. My still-ongoing "depression" is why I took so long to update this. I'm still keeping it for now. Thanks for the forum and your kind support here. No reply needed; just sharing my story and thanking all your help.

Seems odd that those shift cables are not available. When I first went into the Auto Service and Repair industry I was working for a Brake and Front End specialty shop(1954). We were one of very few shops that would repair the old MECHANICAL BRAKES systems on old 1920-30's vehicles. There was in existence at the time folks who could make up any brake cable you needed. BTW....have you ever wondered in amazement how those folks in CUBA keep those 1940-50's vintage cars running? They seem to be all over the Island. I wonder if anyone down there collects Toyota's? Thanks for the update and good luck.

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