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Replacing or Repairing the Shifter Cable on a C5 Corvette with an Automatic Transmission

Technically Speaking: Making Your C5 Corvette Shift … Again!

James Berry Jan 9, 2018
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QUESTION: I own a C5 Corvette and I need some help. I just became a victim of the dreaded broken shift cable. I actually had to manually shift the transmission linkage into Drive the other day just to get the car home from a local car show. Thankfully I did not need to use Reverse. However, my car is stuck in the garage now.

I have read the procedure in the service manual on how to replace the shifter cable and it states that I need to remove the intermediate exhaust pipe and the driveline tunnel closeout panel. I do not have a vehicle lift, and use jackstands when I lift the vehicle up to work on it, and removing the exhaust and the closeout panel can be difficult.

My question, is there an easier way to replace this cable?
Thanks,
Mike H.

ANSWER: Mike, if you do not want to remove the intermediate exhaust pipe and the driveline tunnel closeout panel there are a few options I have for you. First, if you are replacing the shifter cable raise the vehicle using an approved procedure so that you can safely work under the vehicle.

If you are not going to remove the intermediate exhaust pipe and the driveline tunnel closeout panel you will need to remove the center console and remove the shifter attachment bolts to access the shifter cable where it attaches to the shifter.

Using a flat-blade screwdriver, carefully release the shift control cable end clip from both ends of the cable.

Pry the cable retaining clip from the cable.

Remove the nuts retaining the shift control cable bracket to the transmission and remove the control cable bracket from the cable.

You should have a helper for this part. While sitting in the driver seat gently pull the old cable while someone is feeding the new cable from underneath the vehicle.

Now reattach the brackets and the cable making sure the shift cable is completely locked into place and not rubbing on the exhaust.

The GM shifter cable for most C5 automatic transmission Corvettes is PN 12561688.

Shift Cable Adjustments
Use a flat-blade screwdriver to release the transmission shift control cable adjustment lock. This lock is on the transmission side of the cable and usually is red in color.

Make sure that the Transmission Shifter is in the neutral position.

Make sure that the Transmission is in the neutral position.

Press to secure the transmission shift control cable adjustment lock, and that’s it, the shifter cable is adjusted. Vette

02 Corvette Shifter Cable C5 2/4

Using some bailing wire or a zip tie to attach the new shifter cable to the old shifter cable. It is easier to attach the shifter end on the new cable to the lower end that hooks to the transmission of the old cable.

03 Corvette Shifter Cable C5 3/4

Mike, I have one more idea for you that may make things a lot simpler. The plastic grommets are usually what fail on the shifter cables where the cable attaches to the shifter or where the cable attaches to the transmission, these grommets can become dry and disintegrate over time.

04 Corvette Shifter Cable C5 4/4

If the cable moves freely and does not bind and the grommets have failed, there’re replacement grommets available for under $25 from several vendors like Zip Corvette (PN ST-552). These grommets are designed to snap into position (after removing the broken inserts) without having to remove the shifter cable from your Corvette. Sometimes these grommets will fight you when trying to install them so be patient. Well, Mike, I hope this helps and gets you back into gear and back on the road again.

Photos by James Berry

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