Beetle Shift Rod Bushing Replacement

ďWhereís that gearĒ By: Glenn Ring


I recently had a Berg 5 transmission built. After installing it I noticed that the gear location was difficult.Sometimes when downshifting from 3rd into 2nd, it would try to engage reverse causing a rather loud grinding noise (not good thing). I spoke to Gary Berg (he built the tranny) and he told to that the shift rod bushing is probably the cause. It must be in perfect condition and properly lubricated for precise shifting.He also said that the support bracket could be damaged and might need to be replaced.


I decided to tackle the problem right away and not risk the chance of damaging the new transmission. I purchased the following parts, 111-701-225B Shift Guide, 111-701-259A Bushing, 111-701-263 Clip for bushing and 311-798-211 Shift Rod Coupler.


To replace the bushing the shift rod needs to be removed. Itís moved toward the front until the end clears the bushing support. There is an inspection plate on the frame head that must be removed. Itís held on with 2 10mm bolts. Then you remove the 2 13mm bolts that hold down the shifter. At that point I was able to reach in a check the play I in the shift rod. To my surprise there was way too much, in fact after a closer inspection I found that the bushing wasnít worn out, but was missing and broken in 3 pieces. Next I removed the rear seat bottom to get access to the shift rod coupler. You will need a Philips screwdriver to remove the cover plate. Then use a 8mm wrench and needle nose pliers to remove the lag bolt that hold the shift rod to the coupler. Finally you need a 8mm open-end wrench to remove the square setscrew that holds the coupler to the transmission.


Now comes the fun part. You need to push the shift rod toward the front until it clears the bushing support. I used long needle nose pliers that are bent 45 degrees to gently move it.When you get about 3Ē from the back end of the rod, the front end had to be passed through the inspection hole in the frame head. You need to go to the front and reach in and lift it through. Itís real tight and not that easy. I use a bent wire hanger to help grab it. I also use another wire hanger to support the back end of the rod once it came off the bushing support. Otherwise it will drop into the tunnel.


If your old bushing is there, you need to reach in and remove it. The support is about 1.5Ē past the shifter opening. Itís real tight so take your time. Take a few seconds to inspect the bushing support. If it is damaged, then it needs to be replaced (a major pain and not covered here). You are now ready to install the new bushing. Make sure the clip is in place and carefully push it into the support. The bushing has a grove and makes a positive snap when itís in place. Check the fit to make sure the support isnít damaged. Thereís a cut in the bushing, it should be rotated to face the driverís side. Apply some grease to the bushing and push the shift rod back into it. Use the needle nose pliers to carefully slide the rod back. Apply some grease, with a small acid brush, every few inches. When the rod is almost in place you can go to the coupler opening in the back and pull it the last few inches. Now just install the new coupler. Make sure the square setscrew is correctly in place and use a safety wire to ensure it doesnít come loose. Finally reinstall the shifter and the inspection plate in the frame head and youíre done.


After youíve cleaned up you are ready for many years of smooth shifting. No more searching for gears. This is one of those things you do every 20 years. Hopefully, youíll have the car 20 years from now to do it again.