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Volkswagon GTI Short-Shift Lever Install (2003 VR6)

20 Jun 2005  |  Tags: , ,

Alright, if you’re not into cars, scroll past this one.

Today the short-shift lever for my car came, and I was psyched. Installation was pretty straight-forward, but I’ll get into a few of the specifics below in-case anyone searching for information comes across this post!

NOTE: This tutorial is for 6-Speed GTIs, only. Other 6-Speed VWs and Audis can also follow this guide, but I can’t guarantee the results.

First, what to buy. I suggest the following choices:

  • VW Stock R32 Shift-Lever (only $40)
    I went after this one because it’s easier to install (much easier, in fact), and it’s an official VW part. If you’re in a state that doesn’t have a law preventing the dealership from voiding your warranty by tuning things yourself, etc., I suggest this approach.
    Background: The R32 is an Import-Only step-up from the GTI. They’re a bit faster, but also a bit more expensive. They also have all-wheel-drive.
    This lever will shorten your vertical throws about 15 to 20%.
  • Or, DieselGeek’s MkIV VW 6 Speed Ultra Six Shifter (about $200)
    Background: This is probably the nicest shift lever you can buy, but it’s harder to install and you’re only going to get about 10% less movement out of it. It *does* reduce your horizontal movement as well, unlike the R32 lever, but this particular thing didn’t bother me enough to drop the extra $150+.
    This lever will shorten your vertical throws about 30%, and also your horizontal movements.

Once you’ve made up your mind, either way, you’ll follow DieselGeek’s instructions. :)

So, moving on, I had my R32 Shift-Lever arrive in a small box with a tube of M&Ms candies inside… what a nice surprise! (Parts4vws.com is cool like that.) I went out, popped the hood on my car, and started following the instructions.

With the R32 lever only, you’re going to follow the DG’s removal instructions, then repeat them in reverse order (attaching instead of removing) to install the new part. The GTI and R32 shift levers are similar, so there’re no major issues swapping the lever with this method. The page linked above has installation instructions for *their* shifter kit, but you should ignore these unless that’s what you have.

The most difficult part(s) of this install were:

  • Getting the old shift lever off of the transmission… it’s jammed on there pretty tightly and it took the use of a crowbar to carefully pop it off. (be VERY careful with what you’re supporting the crowbar on since you don’t want to break anything under the hood… that’d suck.)
  • Adjusting the vertical shift cable (the one that lies flat to the left, NOT the one that’s suspended in the air) to get the knob inside the car back into the vertical center of the console. (it was too far forward toward the engine after the installation.) Basically, this allowed me to shift from 1 to 6 and back no problem, but pushing the knob down to shift left then up into Reverse wasn’t aligned properly. The trick to getting it back the way it is supposed to be is to put the shifter into neutral (under third, make sure the the shift cables are attached to the lever first), then grab a friend to hold the shifter in place while you adjust the cable to fit onto the shift lever properly. Afterward, you should be all set!

The new lever, hidden amongst the pipes:


So, after about an hour and a half, (the guide said 20 to 30 minutes… hah) the car was all set. First mod, complete.

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