Automatic Hard to Shift

11-15-2004, 08:35 PM
CAR: 96 Lumina, 3.1 V6, Auto, 61000 miles

Within the past three days the shifting has become very stiff and hard to move into drive and back to park. My wife mentioned that it did become somewhat easier when the engined warmed up and in the higher afternoon temps but still noticeably more difficult to move the stick (on column).

Any suggestions as to what is going on.

P.S. - We had the intake manifold gasket replaced about a week and a half ago and had no problems with the repair as the engine has been running smoothly. I wouldn't think this would have anything to do with the hard shifting problem. Or would it??

11-15-2004, 09:08 PM
Only thing that comes to mind is the shift linkage under the hood, drivers side. If that was disconnected and not replaced properly, it could screw up some gear selections. Though I have no idea why it'd be removed, an intake gasket's pretty out of the way of the linkage. Still its something.

11-16-2004, 04:48 PM
The console shift ones were bad for that if any soda or anything got spilled into them. I don't see how something would get into the column, so it is probably in the cable that works the linkage. That would tend to bind more as temps got colder. Maybe the cable end got a coolant bath during the surgery and washed away it's lube? Open the hood, have someone work the shifter back and forth through the ranges, and watch the linkage move, see if there isn't anything laying on it or restricting it somehow. If not, spray it with some lube and see if anything changes.

11-16-2004, 05:15 PM
I agree with Jeff, keep it simple and just try lubing the shift cable.

11-16-2004, 05:56 PM
New shift cable is what you need. Easy to do and every w-body out there will need it some day

11-18-2004, 08:27 PM
if this is a column shift there is a pivot on the steering column that moves with the shift lever this pivot assy moves the cable, the grease at this pivot gets very hard in cold weather causing the shifter to move hard. to repair remove closeout panel below steering column and lube pivot with spray lubricant, this should solve the problem.
good luck

11-18-2004, 09:14 PM
I am telling you NEW SHIFT CABLE As a retired GM Tech we did millions of them.

11-23-2004, 07:13 AM
as a current GM tech of almost 15yrs ive never put a shift cable in a lumina, im telling you if its a column shift lube the pivot for the shifter on the column, always happens when weather turns cold.

11-28-2004, 03:15 PM
This is a common problem with auto. column shift sticks up to what I believe he said 1999 when GM recognized it as a major issue and redesigned the assembly. The dealer service area in this area has seen scores of vehicles with this issue. The grease at the ends of the cable will harden in cold temps making shifting difficult. Solution is to access both ends of cable and regrease. We were told that labor is 1 to 2 hours.

Thanks for all responses. I always like to obtain 2nd independent opinions from forums like this to verify what we are told from other sources prior to paying out $85-$90/hour labor charges. That is the going rate at dealer shops in the Charlotte, NC area.

08-25-2010, 10:36 PM
acemech129 is right. Mine was getting almost impossible for my wife to shift. It took me less than 10 minutes to fix.

02-01-2013, 07:44 AM
Confirming acemech129 is correct. The pivot is above the steering column. You have to remove the cover underneath, and look in upwards. It's easiest to see with the shift lever in 1st gear on my 97 Lumina.

02-03-2013, 05:46 PM
Also confirming acemech129 is correct. I almost changed the cable which is not easy to do. Summer everything is great, winter can bearly shift when it's near zero. Spray it with lube and paste some grease on it.

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