Shorten Shifter or Replace Shift Knob on VW/Audi

Updated on April 17, 2016

A Cheap Short Shifter Mod

Technically this is not a short shifter but it is a great mod to shorten the throw of your stick shift. It can also be combined with an Audi TT shift linkage (5 speed 8N0-711-046) or R32 shift linkage (6 speed 1J0-711-051M) which should shorten shifts by around 10-20% from what I've read (if someone sends me $30 I'll tell you for sure!).

Doing this mod is really just a personal preference for me. I like the feel as opposed to the original height of the shifter, and when I'm under full boost shifting just feels so much faster and smoother as opposed to stock height. I did this mod on my 20th edition as well as changing the transmission fluid to Syncromesh about five years ago and my shifting always felt milky smooth. Now that I have a new (to me) beat up p.o.s GTI I've taken pictures of how to do the mod.

Tools for the Job

This is a very simple mod and will only require a few household tools and a new hose clamp. In all my other DIY's I recommended getting hose clamps from the local hardware/auto parts store. This is a new tip that I just learned, if you have a Harbor Freight store in your area you can get a 40 piece hose clamp kit for $7, now that's a deal! I would also recommend a drill with a long 1/2" drill bit to make things easier but it is not necessary.

  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • Hacksaw, Dremel with cut-off wheel, pipe cutter, etc.. Something to cut through metal piping
  • Paper towel, Newspaper
  • Small hose clamp
  • Drill and long 1/2" drill bit (recommended) 

Removing the Boot and Shift Knob

Whether you have a rim around your shift boot or just the leather this procedure will be the same.

  • From the front side of the boot slip your flat head screwdriver in there and give it a small twist, working around the front side it will slowly pop out while you are pulling up on the boot with the other hand. Once the boot pops out you can pull if forward (towards the emergency break) and that will pull the boot tabs away and out of the console.
  • Pull the released boot straight up and inside out above the shift knob.
  • You will see a metal pinch/hose clamp wrapped around the four plastic tabs. This clamp is a lot thicker than the hose clamps on your engine hoses. If you work it open just a little you will be able to pull off the shift knob with some upwards force. Don't muck with the clamp to much you don't want to break the shift knob tabs.

Cutting the shift rod
Cutting the shift rod

Cutting the Shift Rod

Here comes the fun part!! I would recommend cutting off 1-2 inches. Anymore than 2 and a half and you could risk your car not being able to shift in reverse. On my 20th I cut off about 2" in this DIY I'm cutting about an inch and a half. It is better to start by cutting a small amount off and seeing how it feels, than cutting too much off and realizing you need to replace your shift rod.

Place a paper towel or newspaper around the shaft, mark where you want to cut and saw that mofo off.

Attaching and Drilling out the Shift Knob

Now here come the hard part.

That inch of shift rod that you cut off has a groove on the left hand side, and that groove matches a piece of plastic on the inside of your shift knob. So now to get your shift knob to slide all the way down the rod you're going to have to remove the plastic inside of it. (Put a flashlight in there and you will see the ridge and flat spot that needs to be rounded out).

That ridge is in there to keep the knob centered and from turning but once you put on the hose clamp nice and tight the knob will stay still. Like I said I did this to my other GTI five years ago and the knob never moved.

Out of everything VW/Audi makes it seems like this is the only piece of plastic on these cars that was made to last!

Take no prisoners! The easiest way to remove the plastic is to take a drill and a fat long drill bit and rub it on that ridge till its gone. Besides for that you can use thin chisels, screwdrivers, round files, a thin prison style shankin' knife. Use your imagination but the goal is to remove the ridge and round out the flat spot underneath.

Once you have the knob drilled out make sure it fits all the way down your shift rod. (it is so hard not to make perverted jokes during this DIY). If it slides all the way down, you are done, if not get back to drilling.

Once it fits on, reverse the steps that you did to take it off, push the knob all the way down, line it up to your liking and tighten a hose clamp around the four plastic prongs. Insert the boot ring in the back first (closets to your dash) then push it down to clip in in to the front.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        V3 

        4 years ago

        I recently got my A4 (b5) and to be honest, compared to my last car the a4 might as well have an OEM short shifter lol

      • profile image

        Nate 

        6 years ago

        Just did this in 10 minutes with a dremmel. Instead of trying to bust out the plastic inside the shift knob though I just cut a new groove into the shift lever with the dremmel. Worked great and never have to worry about the knob spinning.

      • Writen4u profile imageAUTHOR

        Writen4u 

        6 years ago

        BR

        Thanks for a helpful comment/tip. It is a cheap mod and it is the comfort that makes it worth doing. Sounds like you have had a nice diversity of cars to play with as well.

      • profile image

        BR 

        6 years ago

        I've done this in a few cars in the past including my TT, CRX, 325i, Stealth Turbo and SRT-4. I would measure exactly where my hand felt most comfortable and my wrist was straight if I was resting my hand on the shifter (most important part to keep your wrist happy). It's a great mod for a bit of performance but mostly comfort.

      • Writen4u profile imageAUTHOR

        Writen4u 

        7 years ago

        Yea this is the third mkiv that I've owned and I think I've just become used to that shifter height so it just feels natural. As long as you don't go overboard with cutting it's not really a risk, but some people don't think about how it has to be pushed down to go in reverse and they just chop the rod in half. Now that's a uh-oh moment.

        Thanks for the comment.

      • thefundu profile image

        thefundu 

        7 years ago from India

        So, you've risked up the shift rod...but you'd done great job buddy...hats off to ur creativity...I had a Hyundai hatchback and I too have thought of it once, but I didn't risked....

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, axleaddict.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://axleaddict.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)