How To: 147 Stiff gear change - Alfa Romeo Forum
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How To: 147 Stiff gear change

Hi all.

I had the well known stiff gear change, with it being almost impossible to find 3rd/4th on the first try and the gear stick not centering. Everybody seems to think this'll take you around a half hour to do, and i'm sure it would if you knew what you were doing. As I had to find my way as I went and everything was stuck solid and the daylight failed, I had to spend a couple of hours at it yesterday and then finish up this morning.

I've seen quite a few posts on the subject, but nothing that's more than a bit vague. I'm no spanner monkey (though i'm getting there) so I'm sure it'll be old news for a lot of you, but I hope that other people get some use from the below!!

1. Open bonnet and find battery on right hand side.
2. Loosen nut holding on NEGATIVE - terminal connector on battery. Unattach lead.
3. On top of the battery is a little black box with some connectors in it. Open the lid of this. Inside are two screws holding the box to the battery on a little red plastic strap. Undo these. Finally, remove the POSITIVE + connection to the battery.
4. The battery strap holding the battery in is secured on the left side of the battery with a nut. You may need a socket extender to get there, as it's a little buried. Remove nut, take off strap.
5. Lift out the battery and put somewhere safe. Underneath is a little plastic tray, which you can just lift out also.
6. Unclip all the wiring on the back of back of the battery tray from the plastic clips.
7. The battery tray is held onto the right wing with four bolts. Undo these.
8. At the front of the car you'll find another black box, labelled fuses and relays. Undo the two clips holding the lid on, and lift off.
9. The fuse board hinges up - do so, and then undo all the block connectors. Underneath these are a little plastic dust cover (remove with a screwdriver), and underneath that is a nut. Undo.
10. With the fuse box unbolted, you are now free to lift it up. It's mounted onto the metal bracket (which in turn mounts onto the battery tray) with a slide fit onto the plastic at the back of the fuse box. You might need t ease it apart with a bit of WD40, but the two will come apart.
11. With the fuse box free, undo the two bolts on the metal bracket underneath it holding to the battery tray. Lift out the bracket.
12. Now you can finally remove the battery tray. There's a bolt that goes through underneath it into a hole at the top of the air box. Easiest way to remove is to drop the battery tray down and then pull it back, before pulling the whole lot up from the rear.
13. In the large space we've now made, toward the back of the engine bay, you'll see the gear linkage. Pop both of the cable end ball sockets off of the relevant balls with a screwdriver.
14. The cables are held onto the metal bracket (selector plate) with a retaining clip. Removing this is a bit of a pain in the posterior, but your best bit is to lever it up from below with a flat headed screwdriver underneath the top 'lip'.
15. With the retaining clip/plate removed, you can simply push the cables out through the back of the selector plate.
16. Undo the three nuts on top of the selector plate. I believe they are 13mm.
17. Lift out the entire selector assembly. There's a nut and washer on the end which needs removing - this for me was suck solid and needed several goes with WD40 and much blue air before it would budge.
18. Pull off the selector arm underneath the washer. The rest of the pin and ball on the end is in one piece, you will need to push it out through the other side. This piece being so stiff is what causes the selector issues in the first place, so it won't come easy. I tapped mine through with a hammer.
19. With the pin out, remove the two 'top hat' bushes from either side of the shaft. Again, mine were stuck solid so had to be broken and tapped out.
20. Go over the shaft and the inside of the sleeve with fine grade wet and dry paper. They should end up as smooth as a babies bottom.
21. Replace bushes with nice new ones, then copper grease the shaft and sleeve.

Reassembly is the reverse of removal!

My gear change is now back to being silky smooth, the sick pulls back to centre straight away and 3rd and 4th are easy to find. All in all a recommended job, but print out the above first!!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiscix View Post
Hi all.

I had the well known stiff gear change, with it being almost impossible to find 3rd/4th on the first try and the gear stick not centering. Everybody seems to think this'll take you around a half hour to do, and i'm sure it would if you knew what you were doing. As I had to find my way as I went and everything was stuck solid and the daylight failed, I had to spend a couple of hours at it yesterday and then finish up this morning.

I've seen quite a few posts on the subject, but nothing that's more than a bit vague. I'm no spanner monkey (though i'm getting there) so I'm sure it'll be old news for a lot of you, but I hope that other people get some use from the below!!

1. Open bonnet and find battery on right hand side.
2. Loosen nut holding on NEGATIVE - terminal connector on battery. Unattach lead.
3. On top of the battery is a little black box with some connectors in it. Open the lid of this. Inside are two screws holding the box to the battery on a little red plastic strap. Undo these. Finally, remove the POSITIVE + connection to the battery.
4. The battery strap holding the battery in is secured on the left side of the battery with a nut. You may need a socket extender to get there, as it's a little buried. Remove nut, take off strap.
5. Lift out the battery and put somewhere safe. Underneath is a little plastic tray, which you can just lift out also.
6. Unclip all the wiring on the back of back of the battery tray from the plastic clips.
7. The battery tray is held onto the right wing with four bolts. Undo these.
8. At the front of the car you'll find another black box, labelled fuses and relays. Undo the two clips holding the lid on, and lift off.
9. The fuse board hinges up - do so, and then undo all the block connectors. Underneath these are a little plastic dust cover (remove with a screwdriver), and underneath that is a nut. Undo.
10. With the fuse box unbolted, you are now free to lift it up. It's mounted onto the metal bracket (which in turn mounts onto the battery tray) with a slide fit onto the plastic at the back of the fuse box. You might need t ease it apart with a bit of WD40, but the two will come apart.
11. With the fuse box free, undo the two bolts on the metal bracket underneath it holding to the battery tray. Lift out the bracket.
12. Now you can finally remove the battery tray. There's a bolt that goes through underneath it into a hole at the top of the air box. Easiest way to remove is to drop the battery tray down and then pull it back, before pulling the whole lot up from the rear.
13. In the large space we've now made, toward the back of the engine bay, you'll see the gear linkage. Pop both of the cable end ball sockets off of the relevant balls with a screwdriver.
14. The cables are held onto the metal bracket (selector plate) with a retaining clip. Removing this is a bit of a pain in the posterior, but your best bit is to lever it up from below with a flat headed screwdriver underneath the top 'lip'.
15. With the retaining clip/plate removed, you can simply push the cables out through the back of the selector plate.
16. Undo the three nuts on top of the selector plate. I believe they are 13mm.
17. Lift out the entire selector assembly. There's a nut and washer on the end which needs removing - this for me was suck solid and needed several goes with WD40 and much blue air before it would budge.
18. Pull off the selector arm underneath the washer. The rest of the pin and ball on the end is in one piece, you will need to push it out through the other side. This piece being so stiff is what causes the selector issues in the first place, so it won't come easy. I tapped mine through with a hammer.
19. With the pin out, remove the two 'top hat' bushes from either side of the shaft. Again, mine were stuck solid so had to be broken and tapped out.
20. Go over the shaft and the inside of the sleeve with fine grade wet and dry paper. They should end up as smooth as a babies bottom.
21. Replace bushes with nice new ones, then copper grease the shaft and sleeve.

Reassembly is the reverse of removal!

My gear change is now back to being silky smooth, the sick pulls back to centre straight away and 3rd and 4th are easy to find. All in all a recommended job, but print out the above first!!
This is amazing! Thanks!!!
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Can we get this nailed up in the known issues thread please?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Egon View Post
Can we get this nailed up in the known issues thread please?
Done. If you see any more that want adding, please report them (exclamation mark icon) and the mods will take a look.
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Excellent guide, thanks!
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Done. If you see any more that want adding, please report them (exclamation mark icon) and the mods will take a look.
Cool, will do.
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Supurb guide
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I was told by a Fiat/Alfa mechanic that as common as muck is this issue, that replaing them with new washers is only a "temporary" solution - and this is because it could happen again six months down the line!

I was told that the best thing to do would be to remove the old washers, and make their "hole" 1mm bigger using a drill giving the selector that extra little space it needs to prevent the problem in the first place.

I am gonna give this a go on my Missus' 147 in the next week or so providing that it bloody stops raining up here (it's doing my head in today BTW - the rain!). I'll let you know on this thread how it goes...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G414SSO View Post
I was told by a Fiat/Alfa mechanic that as common as muck is this issue, that replaing them with new washers is only a "temporary" solution - and this is because it could happen again six months down the line!

I was told that the best thing to do would be to remove the old washers, and make their "hole" 1mm bigger using a drill giving the selector that extra little space it needs to prevent the problem in the first place.

I am gonna give this a go on my Missus' 147 in the next week or so providing that it bloody stops raining up here (it's doing my head in today BTW - the rain!). I'll let you know on this thread how it goes...
I hope this works, it would be a good to have a way of permanently solving this.

I'll share how my stiff gear change problem got solved.

I had the issue ever since I got my car (second hand) about 6 months ago and kept looking for how to solve this. Finally I found the solution here and have been meaning to do it for a while. One day the drive was so bad that I had to really force the gears in, it was even difficult to drive the damn thing. The next day I decided I had enough and went to fix it. Once I got in my car and tried to gear stick, it was moving like new . I still have no idea what happened. Until this day (more than 2 months) the gear stick is moving fine.

Don't get me wrong here, I don't recommend this as a solution. But if anyone can explain what could have happened, I'd appreciate it.
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I understand that the root cause of the problem is aluminium corrosion in the housing. This reduces the diameter of the housing, pushes the top hat washers hard onto the shaft and makes them sticky. If you clean out the tube, and grease it, then replace the washers, there is no reason to believe that this problem will come back for several years.
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Excellent guide. Just used this to fix my 147's stiff gears and found it very easy to follow.

Couple of questions though. I didn't understand step 14 about removing the retaining clips on the gear selector cables. I just popped the ball joints and unbolted the gear selector unit and lifted it out. Did I miss something or is something not connected properly in my car?

Also, see my post http://www.alfaowner.com/Forum/alfa-...r-problem.html if you tend to be a bit heavy handed with a hammer. I managed to deform the thread on the stiff selector arm and was lucky that hacksawing the end off was an option.

Next up - cleaning the EGR and solenoid!

Cheers

Danny B

Cheers

Danny B
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rxe View Post
I understand that the root cause of the problem is aluminium corrosion in the housing. This reduces the diameter of the housing, pushes the top hat washers hard onto the shaft and makes them sticky. If you clean out the tube, and grease it, then replace the washers, there is no reason to believe that this problem will come back for several years.
That is absolutely spot on. I did think about drilling and tapping a grease nipple in but with a liberal dose of copper slip it should give years of aggro free gear changing...
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I found this description vey helpful and it gave me the confidence to investigate the problem myself. My gearchange was stiff across the gate but not yet tending to seize.
My car is a 2003 147 2.0. The battery came out as described but I found that attempting to remove the battery tray was going to be a difficut job. I could only see 3 bolts and a lot of wiring stuff.
However, with the battery out I was able to see the gearchange cables and the bracket down there in the depths and I figured I might be able to get it out with the battery tray still in place.
Step 14- removing the cable retaining clips was much more than a pain in the posterior. I could not see any way that I was going to be able to prise them off in the limited space available. Nevertheless I was able to unclip the cables from the bracket and that gave access to the long bolt which acts as the bearing in the aluminium housing. That is the bolt that needs to come out. There was space to undo the nut with a spanner - only partially - (bearing in mind dannybgoode's warning about wrecking the bolt threads) and I was just able to tap the end with hammer. There wasn't enough room for a good swing but repeated tapping moved the bolt and with the nut off completely I was able to remove the bolt with the housing still in place. It was then just a matter of extracting the old top hats, giving the bolt a vigorous clean up and serious grind/polish with a lot of coarse then fine wetndry. Also an attempt to clean inside the housing with wetndry wrapped round a big drill bit then back together with new top hats and coppergrease. The side to side stiffness across the gearchange gate - which is what is caused by this particular failure is now cured.
Someone had been in there before me - there were signs of old coppergrease on the bolt - so maybe that was why my bolt came out with the tapping I gave it. You might not be so lucky but it might be worth a try if you find getting those cable clips off is impossible
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Does this method work on later cars? I've got this issue on my 2008 147.
Thanks
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hihope you can help me ive just put in new bushes on gear linkage after reading your repair breakdown it seems im missing the selecter arm on the nut and washer end can you get this piece on its own thanks hope u can help
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A very useful guide which I've only found after I'd already done 60% of the work - note to self, next time do you do something read the guide section and see if someone has done it before you!

Anyway, I haven't shifted the whole assembly out as yet because I could see pretty much straight off that the selector cables on mine have seen much better days. The extending rubber cover for cable 'ends' is completely shot on both cables and the cables seemed partially seized. In the interim I have cleaned off as much crap and debris with WD40 as I can and have applied a liberal coating of white grease, this has eased the selection problem considerably although it could be better but my hunch is it's best to wait until I have all the replacement parts in place before stripping it down any further.

Ocht
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Just changed my selector plate for a new one today, job took about an hour with little to no mechanical knowledge. Looking back at the job I'm pretty convinced I could have done it without removing the battery tray using long reach sockets.
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So what parts are actually needed to be replaced ..... my gear stick is stiff and if i move it say in neutral side to side it just stays in wich ever way i push it and changing gear can be a right nightmare .... i thought at first my clutch was on its way out ....
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So what parts are actually needed to be replaced ..... my gear stick is stiff and if i move it say in neutral side to side it just stays in wich ever way i push it and changing gear can be a right nightmare .... i thought at first my clutch was on its way out ....
Sounds like you need to replace two bushes that form part of the gear change mechanism. Alfa part number 46467103, they look like a couple of top hats. 3.60 from my Alfa dealership, I've just replaced mine following a how too guide written up by Kelvan.
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Thanks for that i just didnt want to strip it off to have to do it all again .... is these bushes part of the procedure in the above thread ...thanks
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You can do this in about 15 minutes without removing the battery, just remove only the pin once the cables are off.

And I don't replace or remove the bushes, i just run some wet and dry inside them, grease them and that's it, good to go
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Fantastic guide, thanks. This was perfect my new wee Alfa now drives with nice wee gear change. :-)
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saved me 200

I just want to say a massive thank u. I completely lost 3rd gear the other day and was qouted 200 by local garage. Then i found this thread. I follewed this thread cost me 10 in total and took about 1hr 30mins. Was a easy job except getting the holding plates off to free the cables, struggled to find somewhere for good levarage but after swearing at it a few times and some wd40 i managed to get em off.

The difference it has made to gear calhanges is amazing feels like a brand new car gear change,very smooth.
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Ok chaps! So to do the job properly, what bits should I buy and where from ? I only want to do it once. Many thanks in advance.
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