All about Ford F150 shift linkage problems

The Ford F150 is the most popular car in the US for decades because it combines many benefits without having any serious drawbacks. It is not overly expensive, it has all the space in the world, it comes with powerful and relatively efficient engines, and it can go where most cars can’t. Overall, the F150 is a really good car, but no car is perfect.

For example, the shift linkage in the F150 is known to experience various issues that can hamper your overall ownership experience. These can impact your on-road safety, reliability, and even fuel efficiency. As such, you ought to educate yourself about all Ford F150 shift linkage problems in order to solve them or stop them from happening completely.

It seems like the most common issue with the F150 shift linkage is one where the shift cable lock clip refuses to engage properly. Other issues include a loose shift linkage pin, issues with the bushings, and bad shifter selector cables. These are common on both newer and older F150 models, but older models are considerably worse.

Ford is starting to get the hang of making relatively trouble-free linkage systems, but they still have a long way ahead before these can be called dependable as a whole.

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 Ford F150 shift linkage problems – Transmission shift cable lock can’t engage properly

Many 2018 and 2020 Ford F150 models that come with Ford’s proprietary 10-speed automatic transmission were recalled due to transmission shift cable issues. Ford says that the adjust clip wasn’t installed properly from the factory which can cause the driver to put the truck in park and remove the key, but the truck wouldn’t actually be in park.

Obviously, this can be a major issue as the truck can roll on its own and cause an accident. Ford has also issued detailed guidelines on how dealerships and service centers ought to deal with this issue so it can be completely prevented.

Ford F150 shift linkage problems – Loose shift linkage pin

According to multiple online sources, the 2017 Ford F150 is extremely vulnerable to loose shift linkage pins that can prevent the transmission from shifting gears completely. The most common symptoms of this issue are: the car is moving on its own, a loose-feeling shifter, transmission not in park warning light, or inability to restart the vehicle.

The only way you can solve this efficiently is to take your F150 to a dealership where they can remove the transmission fluid pan and gain access to the pin. At this point, Ford technicians should replace the pin and adjust it firmly so it stays in place for the longevity of the car.


Ford F150 shift linkage problems – Issues with linkage bushings

A bushing is essentially a thin tube-like object tasked with rotating or sliding various shafts to improve efficiency and benefit overall smoothness. A shift linkage bushing in Ford’s automatic transmission is tasked with connecting the transmission linkage to the shift cable and improving the overall tactility and smoothness of the shifter actuation.

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However, these bushings are delicate and can get worn out during the lifespan of the truck. Moreover, if you abuse your transmission, these can fail really early. If your transmission keeps jumping into neutral, and emits weird thumping, squealing, and bumping noises, chances are that your linkage bushings are to blame. Thankfully, a replacement bushing is relatively easy to install and it does not cost all that much money.

Ford F150 shift linkage problems – Bad shifter selector cables

A shift selector is one of the most important components found in modern-day transmissions as it enables you to choose a specific gear. A manual transmission typically uses two cables while an automatic transmission tends to use a singular cable that goes all the way from the transmission to the shifter assembly located between the two front seats.

The issue happens when you turn off your truck, but the transmission remains in the gear you have selected. Thus, when you try to start the car, you are unable to. The only way to fix this efficiently is to gain access to the transmission and replace the cable completely. It’s also worth mentioning that these issues are mostly reserved for older F150 models.

FAQ Section

Can I fix Ford F150 shift linkage problems by myself?

If you are a mechanic and you know your way around a transmission, you should easily be able to repair most shift linkage issues without any special tools. However, if the issue is due to a loose shift linkage pin, it does take some skill and a fair bit of finessing to repair this issue yourself. If you are not 100% confident around a transmission, you should leave these to professionals.

The good news is that Ford has officially recognized most of these issues and that they have released detailed guides on how to fix them. Therefore, you can always educate yourself about a specific shift linkage problem and decide if you are willing and able to fix it yourself.

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Where is a transmission shift linkage located on a Ford F150?

The Ford F150 shift linkage is located underneath the car and between the two front seats. The easiest way to find it is to draw a straight vertical line from the truck’s rearview mirror to the ground as the linkage is housed directly underneath the transmission lever.

In order to be 100% sure, you can always buy a Ford F150 service manual and look for all service information there. It is worth mentioning that it is never a good idea to mess around with a car’s transmission if you are not fully confident in what you are doing.

Is it expensive to fix Ford F150 shift linkage problems?

It depends on the nature of the issue as some problems are cheaper to fix than others. You should expect the repair to cost at least $50-$75, but most serious issues can cost hundreds of dollars to fix.

A complete shift linkage replacement with all labor included is likely going to cost you between $200 and $400 depending on the model, the year of production, and if we are talking about a manual or an automatic transmission.

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Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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