Short Shifter 101: how it works, installation, FAQ & More

If you’re a car enthusiast or someone who takes delight in enhancing their driving experience, then you’re in for a treat. Picture this: you’re behind the wheel, cruising along the open road, and every gear change feels effortless, precise, and lightning-fast. That’s the magic of a well-designed short shifter.

In this article, we’ll be diving deep into everything you need to know about short shifters – those nifty devices that can transform the way you shift gears.

short shifter

what is a short shifter

A short shifter is a modified shifting mechanism designed to reduce the distance required to engage gears in a manual transmission vehicle. Traditional or stock shifters often have longer throws, which means that the distance you need to move the shifter to change gears is relatively long.

On the other hand, a short shifter shortens this throw hence the original name of “Short Throw Shifter”, allowing for quicker and more precise gear changes.

The idea of the short shifter was born from the desire to enhance the driving experience, especially for those who appreciate spirited driving, track racing, or simply a smoother gear shift during daily driving.

how does a short shifter work

A short shifter is a very straightforward concept that utilises leverage. Your stock or OEM shifter which is connected to your transmission works on a pivot point.

By changing the position of this pivot point along the shifter’s shaft you will create more leverage and thus shorter shifting distance. Therefore, swapping your stock shifter for a short throw shifter only means you move upwards the pivot point of your stock shifter.

Here’s a visual representation of how a short shifter works:

Try It Out: If you are still unsure of the concept, you can try it out for yourself with a pencil. Pinch the pencil at the bottom with your index and thumb, holding it vertically. From there, use your other hand to pivot the pencil back and forth. Examine how much you need to move the pencil at the top for the bottom to travel a certain distance. Repeat this process by pinching the pencil much higher, and looking at the difference in the movement necessary.

What are The benefits and downside of a short shifter?

Pros of Short Shifters:

  • Affordable Modification: Short shifters are relatively low-cost modifications compared to other car upgrades.
  • Increased Interaction: Short throw shifters provide a firmer and quicker shifting experience, giving the driver a heightened sense of interaction with the car.
  • Enhanced Driving Experience: Spirited drivers will appreciate the improved performance of shorter throws, leading to a more enjoyable driving experience.
  • Time Away from Steering Wheel: Shorter throws mean less time spent shifting, allowing drivers to keep their hands on the wheel more often.
  • Less Laggy Gearbox: This mod can make the gearbox feel less laggy and more responsive.
  • Customization Options: Some short shifter kits come with custom gear sticks, allowing drivers to enhance the visual appeal of their car’s cabin.
  • Quick Installation: Short throw shifter installation is generally a straightforward and quick process.
  • Improved Performance: They can enable quicker gear changes, potentially leading to better lap times and overall performance.

Cons of Short Shifters:

  • Void Warranty: Installing an aftermarket short shifter might void the car’s warranty if it is still under warranty coverage.
  • Effort Required: Short throws require more effort for shifting, which may not be suitable for drivers who prefer a laid-back driving experience.
  • Potential Wear and Tear: Critics argue that this mod may add to wear and tear on the transmission, though the impact depends on the driver’s shifting technique.
  • Transmission Noise and Vibration: Short shifters may transmit more noise and vibration to the cabin due to their more direct shifting action.

how to install a short shifter? (step-by-step)

Installing a short shifter is usually very easy and does not require any expensive special tools. However, like many other mods, the installation process can vary from one car to another. Therefore, the following guide is only a general guide that will teach you the main steps.

Step 1: Remove dust cover boot

The first step is to remove the dust cover boot. You will first need to remove the shift knob which is often as easy as just unscrewing it. Next, you can move to the second dust cover removal step right away which is to unclip the plastic retaining the boot. From there remove the shift knob and dust cover boot to expose the next step.

step 2: Removing the second shifter boot

The next step is to remove the second shifter boot underneath. Doing so only consists of unscrewing the bracket that is holding it. Some shifters may have an extension which should be unscrewed before.

Step 3: Remove shifter assembly

The last step should have exposed the bolts to remove the shifter assembly. Unscrew them and gently pull the shifter out. While you are there it is recommended to change the shifter cup bushing for a new one. Furthermore, if your assembly sits in fluid you can also use a turkey baster to remove it and replace with new fluid.

Step 4: Clean

The shifter assembly is usually sealed with a gasket and therefore is has to be replaced. Before putting in the new gasket clean the old one off using a plastic scrapper and an abrasive sponge. Make sure no debris fall in the assembly hole. You can prevent this by clogging the hole with a rag.

step 5: install short shifter

The next step is to install your new short shifter. First, drop in your new shifter cup bushing if you are replacing it. Afterward, you need to install the gasket. You can buy a new gasket or use a thin layer of RTV gasket maker. Lastly, drop in the new short throw shifter assembly and screw it in place. You can use a little bit of thread lock on the bolts to ensure that vibration won’t loosen them.

Step 6: Adjust Shift stop

Some short shifter assembly have shift stop which ensure you don’t over extend your shift damaging your transmission. To adjust the shift stops which usually are two bolts, put your shifter into 3rd gear. From there unscrew the bolt until it touches the shifter and screw it back in about half a turn to create a small gap between the two. Lock it place with the nut and repeat the process for the second one.

Step 7: Reassemble

The last step is to reassemble the two boots and the shift knob the same way you took them out.

Are short shifters worth it?

Yes, absolutely, a short shifter is an easy and cheap modification you can do to any manual car. Although it won’t make your car faster, the feel and the experience of driving it and shifting trough the gears will drastically change. This means if you own a project car, a sports car, a track car, or any other car that you enjoy doing spirited driving with, a short shifter can be an amazing, cheap addition to this car.

FAQs

What should I consider when choosing a short throw shifter?

When selecting a short throw shifter, there are several factors to keep in mind. First, ensure that the shifter is compatible with your specific vehicle make and model. Check for reputable brands known for their quality and reliability. Consider whether you prefer an adjustable or non-adjustable shifter – some allow you to customize the throw length, while others have a fixed reduction. Finally, compare prices and features to find the best balance between performance and cost.

How much can a short throw shifter reduce the travel length?

On average, a good short throw shifter can reduce the shift throw by about 1 to 1.5 inches. This means that the distance the shifter needs to move to engage the next gear is significantly shorter, leading to quicker and more precise gear changes.

Who is a short throw shifter for?

Short throw shifters are primarily designed for car enthusiasts and drivers who prioritize performance and an enhanced driving experience. They are ideal for individuals seeking more precise and engaging gear shifts, particularly during spirited driving.

Can I use a short throw shifter for daily driving?

Yes, you can use a short throw shifter for daily driving. However, the level of comfort may vary depending on the specific shifter and individual preferences. Some drivers find the shorter, crisper shifts to be enjoyable and suitable for regular commuting, while others might prefer a more stock-like feel.

Are short throw shifters beneficial for track/racing?

Yes, short throw shifters are highly beneficial for track and racing applications. The reduced shift throw allows for quicker gear changes, which can be crucial in achieving better lap times and maintaining control during aggressive driving on the track.

conclusion

In conclusion, short throw shifters are a popular upgrade for driving enthusiasts, offering quicker, more precise gear changes and reducing shift throw by 1 to 1.5 inch on average. Designed for both daily drivers and track enthusiasts, these shifters cater to a wide range of preferences.

They provide faster gear changes and better lap times, making them an ideal choice for those seeking enhanced driving dynamics. Investing in a quality short throw shifter tailored to your vehicle can enhance your driving experience and leave you with a lasting smile.