Repairing the Transmission Selector Cable on a Pontiac Sunfire

Recently my venerable 2005 Pontiac Sunfire broke down and left me sitting in bewilderment on the side of the road at a local gas station. This was the first time in the 7 years that I have owned the car that it gave me problems and I had no idea why it wasn’t working right. With a little investigation, I soon discovered that the transmission selector cable had broken in the motor right next to the transmission selector switch. As a result of this, my car would not crank or go into gear so that I could get home.

Finding my car’s problem but not being able to immediately repair the problem left me in quite a predicament. Faced with no transportation, I broke down and did something that I rarely do. I called a towing service and had them tow my disabled vehicle to my home. When I got the car home, I pulled out my trusty Haynes repair manual and used its troubleshooting chart to find exactly how to repair my transmission selector cable. This was the beginning of the challenge that this problem would present.

The next day, I called about 15 different aftermarket parts stores looking for my transmission selector cable. Well as luck would have it, no one in the entire area had the part in stock. I found this impossible to believe in a city as large as Jacksonville, but it proved to be the case. So I was forced to call the dealer and get the part ordered through them.

Two days and $150 dollars later, I received my part from the local General Motors dealership. The part turned out to be simply a metal cable that was encased in a rubber and aluminum casing. I thought to myself that for $150 dollars, I could have made several of these things. Be that as it may, I had to have the part. So I shelled out my hard earned cash and purchased the part.

When I got the part home, I found that replacing it was not the challenge that I thought it would be. While the repair wasn’t easy, it wasn’t nearly as difficult as some of the alternator repairs I have had to endure on cars that I have owned in the past. The most difficult part of this repair job was that I had to remove my entire center console in the car’s interior.

The removal of the center console called for me to use my ratchet set and 10 mm ratchet. It took me a total of about an hour and a half to complete that. I then had to unhook the center console from the upper dash console. This took me about another 20 minutes and required that I use a Phillips-head screwdriver. With this completed, I finally was able to get to the gear selector handle on my car’s floor and begin to remove the old transmission selector cable.

Once I got into the gear selector handle on the floor, it was a simple matter to switch out the cables. I simply disconnected the snap-on part of the transmission selector cable from the gear selector handle. Then I pulled the cable in through the car’s front firewall and was able to remove the old cable from the car. The new cable went in easily in the exact same place where the old cable had been. Once I got it placed into position, I simply snapped the interior section of the new cable onto the gear selector handle on the car’s floor. With that done, I then pulled the new cable out into the engine compartment and secured its rubber gasket on the car’s firewall. Once this was completed, I simply made a few adjustments on the metal clamps in the engine compartment that held the new cable into place and snapped the cable onto the transmission selector switch on the side of my car’s transmission. This completed the repair.

I found that the entire repair took me about five hours from start to finish. It took about two and a half hours to completely remove the center console of the car and the old transmission selector cable. Then it took about a half an hour to replace the new cable and then about two hours to adjust the new cable and reassemble the car. All told, the time was worth the money that I saved. Had I not done the repair myself, it would have cost me over $400 dollars to have a professional mechanic do the repair.

In looking back at the repair, I would do it again if the car were to present the problem to me again. I would also recommend that anyone who owns a Pontiac Sunfire do as much of their own repair work as possible. This not only saves you money, but also builds your skills and let’s you know that your car was fixed correctly. In the end, this is important to anyone because you can be guaranteed that repairs you have done will last for a long time.


Personal Experience

“2005 Pontiac Sunfire Transmission Selector Cable,” Parts Train

“Chevrolet Cavalier/Pontiac Sunfire 1995-2005 Haynes Repair Manual,” Auto Repair

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