Suzuki Samurai Sloppy Shifter Fix

A common problem with the Suzuki Samurai is the shifter locating bolt breaking and causing sloppy shifting. This isn’t a difficult repair.

(Replacement Shifter Bolt)


1) Disconnect the negative battery cable for safety.

2) Locate the shifter handle inside the passenger compartment. If equipped, remove the console cover.

3) Remove the 4 gear shift boot mounting bolts and slide the upper boot (shift boot No. 2) upwards on the gear shifter away from the center floor tunnel. When working with the shift boots, be careful not to force and tear them. The older the boot is, the more easily it can be damaged.

4) Check the lower boot (shift boot No. 1) for a retaining clamp, and if equipped, release the boot clamp. Slide the lower boot, upward toward the shift knob in order to expose the shifter case cover retaining bolts.

(To free the lever from the housing, remove the retaining bolts from the top of the shift lever case cover)

5) Loosen the gear shift lever case cover bolts (there are usually 3) and pull the gear shift lever out of the transmission case.

6) Remove the gear shift lever case the transmission shifter sits in. 

7) The remainder of the broken bolt is usually still stuck in the shifter, but if not, it has dropped into the transmission and you might try to use a telescoping magnet to fish around inside the transmission and recover it before you replace the broken bolt and put it all back together.

(New transmission shifter bolt and housing)


1) Clean and inspect the wear surfaces at the bottom of the shift lever. Apply a thin coat of lithium grease to the shifter ball friction surfaces at the bottom of the handle (between the shift lever and lever seat, as well as between the lever and lever case). Also, apply a small dab of grease to the tip of the shifter locating bolt, found inside the shift lever housing.

2) Reinstall the gear shift lever case.

3) Install the shifter handle into the top of the case, then position the case cover and install the retaining bolts. Tighten the bolts to 35–62 inch lbs. (4–7 Nm).

Note: Don’t tighten the bolts down too hard.. The transmission is aluminum and as metal goes its pretty soft and easy to strip out or deform.

4) Apply a thin coat of lithium grease to the lower boot (shift boot No. 1) on the surface which seals with the shift lever case cover. Then slide the boot down the shift handle into position. If equipped, secure the boot retaining clamp. If the clamp was missing or damaged you should replace it with a similar type of band clamp (but in a pinch, a wire tie should be sufficient).

5) Slide the upper boot down the shift lever and into position. Secure the boot to the floor center tunnel using the retaining bolts.

6) If equipped, install the console cover.

7) Connect the negative battery cable.