it's the little things that make you nuts

author62September 6, 2006

Hi All,

My son bought a second hand 98 f-150 ford p/u. Since he's away at college I started driving it. I noticed that the little red gauge that lets you know what gear you are in is misaligned by one gear. So when in the "park" mode, the red gauge is just about touching the "R" for reverse, resutling in total misalignment on all the gears. The gears are lined up horizontally on the dashboard. Is there an easy fix for realignment, or is it something major like taking apart the dash? Other than that the truck is working just fine.

would love any and all advice.

Thanks, RM

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If you are used to it I would leave well enough alone. My dads 1970 F 250 had the indicator set so that if you put it where it was pointing at the R nothing would happen. A little nudge upward on the shift lever and everthing worked fine.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 10:09PM
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I'm not familar with your truck, but if this shift indicator is mechanical and not electronic, it's probably very simple. A number of these are nothing more than a weatherproof string clipped to the shifter. As the shifter moves about, it pulls on the the string. The other end of the string is attached to the indicator drum that supports the indicator needle, and finally, the end of the sting is held taut by a spring. The adjustment is simple: adjust the end of the string where it clips to the shifter.

That's the easy part. It may be buried under a bunch of stuff under the dash. If you are lucky, the adjustment end will be accessible. Consult a repair manual for your particular vehicle. Sometimes, these indicators get pulled out of adjustment by someone poking around under the dash and unknowingly snags the string - also, these may slip on their own accord.

This indicator is merely a convenience item and does not affect the operation of the truck. You can ignore it or fix it if you like to have "things right" on the instrument panel. It isn't critical unless the a driver depends on it, as might be the case when the vehicle gets passed around among several different drivers.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 1:40AM
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Thanks Jem,

That was really informative. Sounds like you know exactly what the problem is. First thing, I'd better get a manual. Do you know where I can get one?

I can only assume the shifter is mechanical. How would I know for sure? Getting it fixed is not so much about perfection but it is confusing. More so for my daugher because she is learning to drive with this truck.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 2:09AM
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If you can not find a good repair manual, try your local library. These days, many libraries mantain a subscription to a repair manual source. Call before you make the trip to the library. If your local library doesn't have access to an on-line service, they may be able to point you to a library that does. In my neck of the woods, village libraries are linked to the county library and that helps in finding resources.

Your vehicle is a pickup. There's more room under the dash on these than a car. Take a light and look under the dash where the indicator is. You might be able to see it.

Repair manuals of low to average quality can be found in auto parts stores such as Auto Zone. These are not expensive, but the illustrations are often poor and lacking in important detail. The best is an official shop manual, but these may run over $100.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 4:59AM
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