How to Fix a Loose Column Shifter

How to Fix a Loose Column Shifter: A Short Guide to Doing it Right

A gear shifter is one of the critical parts of any car. As the name says, this will allow you to shift from one gear to another. Therefore, if it is damaged, your safety can be compromised. You will have a hard time controlling the movement of your car. That being said, any problem needs to be addressed as soon as possible so that it will not escalate.

Among others, one of the most common problems with the column shifter is that it is loose. This is one thing that is common, especially if your car is already old. Because of too much pressure and movement, the column shifter loosens through time. More often than not, a quick tightening of the bolts will be enough to address the problem.

If you want to know how to fix a loose column shifter, I get you covered in the rest of this post. To add, I will also provide you with some tips to maintain the peak condition and performance of the column shifter so that you can have peace of mind when you are driving.

What You Will Need to Follow this Tutorial

Before you start, see to it that you have already prepared the following materials:

  • Torque screwdriver
  • Thread locker

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Fix a Loose Column Shifter

Below are the easy steps that you have to follow to fix a loose column shifter.

1. Diagnose the Source of the Problem

Fix a Loose Column Shifter


At this point, you already know that the column shifter is loose. It is no longer as responsive to your controls and it may even produce a weird sound. You may know the problem, but you are not yet aware of the source of the issue. The first thing that you have to do is to check the source and from here, you can plan on how to have it resolved.

First, you have to open the hood. To make things easier, ask for help from someone to move the column shifter while you are observing the engine. Look for the part that is moving. If it is perfectly fine, which means that no part seems to be loose, move on to the next place that you have to check.

Look under the steering wheel. In most cases, this is where you can find the problem. You do not have to take out any part. You just have to inspect to be sure that this is where the problem comes from. Look for the brake pedal and follow it all the way up, which will land your hand on the steering column. Move the steering wheel and you can see that this part will move along.

Look at the part that touches the gear lever, specifically the bolts. They are probably loose. If they are, at this point, you know that this is the source of the problem, and all that you have to do is to have it tightened for a quick and easy fix.

2. Remove the Bolts

If they are loose and wiggling, all that you have to do is to remove the bolts in place. To do this, you will need a torque screwdriver, the size of which will depend on the vehicle that you have. Remove the bolts one at a time and proceed to the next step so that they will be aligned.

3. Apply Thread Locker

Now that you have removed the bolts, apply the thread locker. This will keep the bolt tight and secured despite the vibrations that can be experienced. Without this, the bolts will end up being loose again.

4. Put the Bolts Back

Now, tighten the bolt in place. Secure it with the use of the torque screwdriver. Test the column shifter, and at this point, it should no longer be wobbly. Make sure that the bolts are tight enough so that there will be no more wiggle.

For a visual guide of the steps that have been mentioned above, take the time to watch this short video:

Pro Tips

In this section, we will tackle some tips concerning your column shifter. Here are some of the most important things that you have to keep in mind:

  • Be gentle when you are shifting gears. A lot of us are most probably guilty of using too much pressure when shifting as if we are always mad. If you do this often, there is a higher likelihood that you will end up with a loose column shifter.
  • Do not ignore the problem the first time that it shows up. The longer it takes for you to act, the looser it becomes. At its worst, this will have a negative impact on the safety and performance of your vehicle.
  • Avoid overtightening the bolts. You should see to it that it is tight enough so that it will not be wobbly. On the other hand, if it is too tight, it will no longer move and it will be harder for you to shift from one gear to another.
  • When removing the bolt, if you are having a hard time because it is too tight, you can spray oil or lubricant so that it will be easier to turn it.
  • In some instances, it is not enough that you tighten the bolt. This is especially true if the problem is no longer just above the brake pads. The problem could be the column shifter itself. In this case, you might need to purchase a new column shifter. The installation can be quite tricky, so it will be best if you ask for help from a professional.
  • There are also situations wherein it is the shift tube that you have to fix. The tube can be cracked or broken, which is because of the poor quality of the materials that are used. Some materials may be unable to withstand harsh use. See to it that the tube, along with other components of the shifter, is in good condition.


From the discussions above about how to fix a loose column shifter, there is one thing that is apparent – it is a pretty easy and straightforward task. You need only a few materials and a little patience. You will be able to save a lot since there is no more need to pay a mechanic to do the job for you.

Do you have experience in fixing a loose column shifter? How did you do it? Are there tips that you would like to share? Feel free to write in the comment section below.