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5 Common Ford F-150 Shift Linkage Problems

5 Common Ford F-150 Shift Linkage Problems

What kind of problems does an American-made Ford F-150 normally have with shift linkage? In this blog, we’ve outlined all the most important things you should watch for when you’re in the market for a Ford F150.

Common Ford F-150 problems with the shift linkage include a lock clip that’s not fully seated in 2018 and 2020 models, as well as a loose shift linkage roll pin in 2017 model years. Furthermore, bad shift linkage bushing, loose Torx screws of the shift lever, and a broken shifter cable are common in 2004 – 2008 models.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In the rest of the article, we’ll discuss every single problem in detail. Furthermore, we’ll let you know how to identify it, fix it and how much it costs to fix. Read on!

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Also read: 15 Common Problems Of A Ford F-150

1. Transmission Shift Cable Lock Clip May Not Be Fully Seated

2018 and 2020 model years of the F-150 with a 10-speed automatic transmission were recalled because the transmission selector lever cable adjuster locking clip wasn’t installed properly. According to Ford, this condition allowed for the following defect:

This condition could also allow the driver to move the shift lever to Park and remove the ignition key with the transmission gear not in Park.


In the image below, Ford provided visual guidelines of what a seated and unseated transmission locking clip looks like. In the case of the recall, it was still advised you’d visit your dealer and have them resolve the issue to make sure you’re covered for any future problems.

2. Loose Shift Linkage Pin

Ford recalled the 2017 Ford F-150 because of a loose shift linkage roll pin that’s responsible for connecting the shift linkage to the transmission. The roll pin was at risk of becoming too loose, preventing the transmission from shifting. Symptoms of a loose shift linkage roll pin were stated to be:

  • A loose or low-effort feel of the shift lever
  • If the vehicle is equipped with a floor shifter, the shifter indicator could display inaccurate gear
  • When exiting the vehicle, if the transmission is not in Park, the ignition key can be removed,
    but a warning chime will sound and a message will be displayed in the instrument cluster
    indicating Transmission Not in Park
  • If the transmission is not in Park or Neutral, the driver would not be able to restart the vehicle
  • Unintended vehicle movement

The solution to the problem involved having dealers replace the roll pin by removing the transmission fluid pan. This would give direct access to the location of the loose roll pin as shown in the image below.

3. Bad Shift Linkage Bushings

The shift linkage bushing is an essential part that connects the transmission linkage and the shift cable. Apart from its primary function, the shift linkage bushing on the F150 enhances the overall feel of the shifter since it reduces the side-to-side and front-to-back compliance with the mechanism of the stock shifter with rubber insulators.

Over a period of time, the shift linkage bushing on the Ford F150 can get damaged due to abuse, lack of maintenance practices, or high mileage of the vehicle. This is mainly common in the 2004 – 2008 Ford F-150 but it can happen on every F-150 that has higher mileage. Symptoms of a potentially bad shift linkage bushing involve:

  • Odd noises like thumping, bumping, squealing, And whirring
  • No gear shifting, in case the bushing fell apart
  • Gear Lever Vibrations, in case the bushing is loose but still attached
  • Transmission jumping into neutral
  • Gear shifting becoming difficult

Luckily, replacing the shift linkage bushing isn’t the most difficult thing in the world. In the video below you can get an understanding of where the bushing is located and how to replace it.

4. Loose Shift Linkage Issue On Older F-150s

Many owners have reported automatic transmission linkage issues in their Ford F150. Usually, this problem occurs with high mileage trucks, which have been driven over 150,000 miles.

When this problem occurs, you won’t be able to manually change the gear in your Ford F150 truck. In most cases, this issue can be solved easily without much worry.

To solve this, you would have to remove the plastic cover above the brake and on the bottom of the dash. Once removed, look beneath; you would be able to see the steering column. Somewhere there, look back toward the vehicle’s interior to find a device that holds the shift cable.

Once found, move the shifter down and up, and you should see the device rotate with the cable attached. Now, ensure the Torx screws holding the plate in place are tight, and none is missing.

If loose, tighten them, and it should solve the problem. Also, do not put excess strength while tightening the screws, or they might break, further increasing the problem. Check out the video below for visual instructions on how to do all of this.

5. Bad Shift Selector Cable

The shift selector cable on your Ford F150 is responsible for putting the transmission into the desired gear. F150 with automatic transmission usually has one cable that goes from the transmission to the shifter assembly. On the contrary, F150 with manual transmission would have two cables.

But both the automatic and the manual transmission show the same symptoms if the shift selector cable goes bad. If you suspect any problem with the shift selector cable on your F150, the most common symptom is the car refusing to go turn off or start. This is because it’s stuck in a gear that it’s not supposed to be in, and you’ll need to replace the cable and put the transmission in the right gear to fix this problem.

It’s likely that the shift selector cable broke somewhere around the point where it goes from the interior, through the firewall, to the transmission. Again, this is mainly a problem caused by increased wear over time and therefore it’s mainly an issue in older models.

The above symptoms are a good indication of a faulty shift selector cable. To solve this problem replacing the cable is recommended. In the United States, a new shift selector cable for the Ford F150 can cost anywhere around $40-$50. Watch the video below for instructions on how to identify a bad shift selector cable.

Want to read about more common problems of the Ford F-150?

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