Gear Indicator Doesn't Line Up

Page Revised: 10 May 2019


Article by
Eric Dess

Most of you with column shifters probably don't have a problem with the gear indicator lining up, but someday you might, or maybe it's happening already. This section will show you how to fix the problem. It requires only basic tools and not much effort.

First thing to do, as usual, is to disconnect the battery. Remove the collar from around the tilt wheel lever, if your car is equipped as such. It simply unsnaps from the left side. Then remove the 5 screws from the bottom of the steering column cover. You may have to remove the trim from the dash directly underneath the column as well. The bottom half of the cover should come off, and then you can begin the adjustment.

You will notice a white plasic collar that is fastened to the actual steering column shaft. There will be a very thin red-colored cable on the left side; that is the cable that goes to the needle on the instrument cluster. On the righthand side is a 7mm screw. This is your adjuster.

Cougar Gear Indicator Adjustment
Adjusting the Indicator

All you need to do is loosen the screw, and turn the collar until the needle lines up, then carefully clamp down the screw. This is a very delicate procedure though. The plastic can very easily snap if you overtighten the screw. And if you ever remove the collar, it can break in half while trying to get it off the column shaft. We recommend that you do this procedure in warm weather, or inside a heated garage if it's cold outside, in order to get the plastic to a temperature where it won't break as easily.

If your collar does happen to break, you could use duct tape on it (super glue will not hold). We've done it before and it works just fine, although you may need to lube up the column underneath the adjuster to allow the collar to slide easier. Jimmy has also suggested using a simple radiator hose clamp—just open it all the way up and wrap it around.

Should the red cable becomes disconnected for whatever reason, it's not very fun to fish back over the loop on the collar, so take your time. Now if the cable breaks, Louis has found a solution: "We found a steel cable with small crimps (we think it's for hanging pictures) in the Walmart fabric department. It works like a charm, and there's enough cable and crimps to do at least 4 repairs."