Custom Shift Knobs: Get the Facts and Install One Yourself
When you are considering the upgrades you can make to your vehicle to add personality, custom shift knobs are a great place to start and is the easiest way to set your vehicle apart from stock models. There are millions of different shift knobs available and, since shift knobs are generally universal, the possibilities are endless. With so many choices, you need to narrow them down to find the right shift knob for you.
Types of Knobs
An automatic shift knob is the knob atop the lever which allows you to change gears in your automatic-transmission vehicle. It may be covered with many different materials, such as leather or chrome, and will have either a top or side-mounted button which must be pressed and held down in order to shift. Since the shift knob is a prominent feature of your vehicle, and is handled every time you drive, it's important to have one that suits your taste. If you'd like to replace your automatic shift knob, the following steps will help you to install a new one.
Shift knobs used on manual transmission automobiles are frequently customized as well. Many need replacing due to their condition, while others are simply deemed too dull for repeated use. Some drivers prefer to add a heavier knob to give shifting a smoother, more effortless feel, while others may simply wish to find something that fits a little more comfortably in their hand.
Upgrading a shift knob is generally a simple task, easily accomplished by the backyard mechanic. If you are thinking about buying a new shifter, you may find you have to buy a new shift boot as well. Some manufactures choose to create a one piece combination boot and knob, while others have two independent components.
For safety reasons, you should always set the emergency brake before modifying your vehicle in any way. The exact tools you will need depend on the particular shift knob you're removing and on the one you're replacing it with, but you should have Allen wrenches, screwdrivers, a pair of needle nose pliers and a pair of wire clippers handy.
Remove the Old Shift Knob
Most knobs simply attach by means of a threaded connection on the shift lever. Some vehicles feature additional locking components under the boot, so a little research into your specific application may be a good idea. Another factor to consider is that some states require the shift pattern to be present on any vehicle with a manual transmission. It may be wise to check your local laws before buying any pricey accessories.
If you can see a small hole on the back of your knob, use these instructions. Turn your key to start your car - though not all the way, only to the pre-ignition stage. This will allow you to shift gears without the car running. Shift into first gear to access the small hole on the back of the knob, and use the appropriate tool to completely remove the screw found inside. Set it aside, and carefully pull the shift knob straight off of the shaft. A lot of force may be necessary to free the knob, but yanking it off can damage the wires connected to the overdrive button if your shift knob has one. If it does, use the wire clippers to carefully snip the wires to retain the greatest length possible at the shift lever end.
If there isn't a hole on the back of your old shift knob, you should see a trim piece at the base of the knob. When you pull it down, there should be a retaining clip beneath it, which can then be removed with needle nose pliers. Once this is removed, the shift knob can be manually removed and the overdrive wires cut.
If your new shift knob has an overdrive feature, you will need to reattach the wires you cut. Use your pliers to twist the old wires to the new ones of corresponding color. You may need to carefully peel back the wire's insulation about a quarter of an inch in order to achieve good wire-to-wire contact. Cover any exposed wire with electrical tape before moving on.
At this point, you can simply slip the new shift knob onto the shaft and attach it according to the instructions included with the kit. It will likely be a mirror of the process you just used to remove the old shift knob.
Shift knobs are one of the best ways to customize the interior of your vehicle and, with so many options available at reasonable prices; you can change your shift knob as quickly as you change your clothes (if you want). Show your personality by finding the right shift knob to express who you are to the world and bring a little style to your daily commute.