Tech: Installing a Short Throw Shifter Kit Short Cuts

| Toyota Tech | Toyota Section | |

By: Tim Stucky. 8/2002

Driving a lifted Toyota 4wd truck or a 4Runner isn't exactly like driving a racecar. I've always been envious of my friends who drive 5 speed sports cars because they're able to capture that racing feeling of clicking from gear to gear with an ultra short throw of the shifter. I've always wanted to trade the stock laborious, long, have-to-lean-forward to reach 5th gear pattern for a more sports car feeling, shorter and quicker one. One day while browsing the Marlin Crawler website I stumbled across a short throw shifter kit he makes which is suposed to reduce the throw of the shift lever by about 40%. After much deliberating, the race car driver inside got the best me and I just had to try it out on my '88 V6 4runner.

The short throw shifter kit

The basic idea behind the short throw shifter kit is relatively simple. In a nutshell, by placing the aluminum spacer between the tranny and stick shift, the mounting position changes which in turn changes pivot point of the stick. This effectively shortens the throw between gears. The kit comes with everything you need to do the install, including a new stick shifter, spacer, longer bolts, shift lever and seat bushings. The short throw kit is ideal to use in conjunction with body lifts where the body is interfering with shifting, however, it can also be installed on a non-body lifted vehicle. Marlin can make short throw kits for most Toyota trannies and transfer cases and can bend the stick to your specifications. I chose to have mine bent so that it was closer to the driver and further back. This way I wouldn't have to reach for 5th gear or reverse anymore, nor would passengers knees hit the stick while in 5th gear! I picked up my kit from Marlin's shop and headed home eager to install the kit and see how it felt.

Installation Procedures

Removed stock trim Removed shift boots

Installation of the kit is relatively straightforward. First, start by applying the parking brake in order to secure the vehicle. A couple of pieces of wood to block the wheels isn't a bad idea either. Once the vehicle is secured so that it won't roll while you're working on it, it's time to begin removing the old shifter in preparation for the new one.

1. Shift the transmission into neutral and remove the shift knob by unscrewing it from the stick.
2. Remove the 4 screws that hold the console trim piece on.
3. Remove the 6 screws that hold the shift boots to the body.
Removing shifter and base from tranny Removing shifter from base
4. Remove the 4 12mm bolts that hold the shift lever base to the tranny. (Some of these bolts can be hard to get to on non body lifted vehicles. I found the bolts much easier to get to after loosening the 4 17mm bolts on the transfer case crossmember to drop the tranny down a bit) Then the entire assembly (shift lever and base) can be lifted from the transmission and out of the vehicle.
5. Once out of the vehicle, it's easy to remove the shifter from its base. First, lift up the small rubber boot at the base of the stick where it goes into the transmission to expose the collar surrounding the stick. It can be removed by pushing down and turning it 1/4 turn to the left. Then the stick can be separated from the base.

Installing the shift lever seat bushing

At this point, the new shift lever bushing and nylon bushing that goes on the end of the stick can be installed. The old shifter seat bushing can be pryed out with a pair of needle nose pliers and the new one installed. It helps to put a little bit of grease on the outside of the bushing to help it slide down into position a little easier. Next, install the aluminum spacer between the transmission and the shifter base using the supplied longer bolts. Without a body lift, it's necessary to lower the transfer case and transmission a little to get the bolts started. Then it's just a matter of reinstalling things in reverse order. Pay special attention when reinstalling the shift lever to make sure it's oriented in the correct direction and inside the pocket between the shift forks.

How the spacer looks installed

After putting it all back together and hopping in the drivers seat to see how it felt, my initial reaction was "wow, this is really short" and it really felt good. Rowing through the gears is much easier now and there is much less slop due to the replacment of the seat bushing. I still can't shift as fast as a racecar driver, but I no longer have to reach for any of the gears, reverse and fifth gear are very close, and shifting is much improved overall. I can definitely say that shifting feel has improved and I'm very happy with the fit, finish, and quality of this product. For information and ordering, contact Marlin Crawler.

Contacts Related Links
  • Marlin Crawler
    1543 North Maple Suite B
    Fresno, CA 93703

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