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Shifter Jammed in Third Gear (Solved)

I had a problem the day I bought my gated 360 in that the shifter jammed in 5th gear and I couldn't shift. At the time, I was on the NY Thruway (287) and no way I could stop. I was only 10 miles from my exit so I continued. As I slowed into the toll booth, the problem miraculously cured itself and everything was fine. After discussing the issue with Fonzie, a master Ferrari mechanic, he concluded it must have been the mat bunching under the clutch. Fixed the mat and moved on.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and 300 miles of event free driving to last night. I was having a very pleasant night drive, the first time I had been out after dark. I goosed it up to about 7k RPM's in 5th on a long straight limited access road (about 100mph) and the shifter jammed again. I couldn't get it out of 5th. I slowed down, like I did that day on the Thruway and it popped out of 5th gear. Ok, so maybe I had a problem with 5th gear. Not the end of the world yet.

I continued my drive and all was well. I stopped for gas about 15 minutes later and took off. About a mile and a half from home, I gassed it in 3rd to about 7k again and the problem happened again! Couldn't get it out of 3rd. Luckily, traffic was non-existent, I had to run two stop signs and managed to make it into my garage. Whew! An amazing feat of luck, skill and a fast garage door opener.

So I was stuck in my garage, couldn't get the shifter to budge and now what? I closed the garage door behind me and decided to not think about it until tomorrow. Fat chance! I slept poorly and woke feeling nauseous. I could attribute the feeling to the half bottle of wine I polished off trying to forget about the car problems. Not a good idea and as I tried to shake it off, decided no more late night drinking. Sure...

About mid-morning, I hit the garage again.

My first thought was the shifter bushing. Mine is sort of toasty but still works. I had it on the list of things that needed attention and was planning on changing it eventually. Could the bushing have cratered, jamming the whole mess? I took out the ashtray and with an endoscope, carefully examined the innards. Everything was gross with hair and yuck (another reason to replace the bushing) but the mechanism looked ok. No broken parts, nothing jamming the controls. I could see with my scope that the cables were moving in response to the shifter and that the cables themselves appeared to offer resistance. Probably not the shifter itself and something downstream instead.

I went back to the internet and researched "Ferrari 360 shifter jammed" and a number of other combinations of keywords. Nothing useful there. Some mention of twisted forks and bad synchros but my car had run tip-top with no unusual noises right up to the second it stopped shifting. Even then, the car ran great and sounded perfectly normal. The internet was not going to save me.

My next dreaded thought was a problem with the gearbox. That would really suck since it's a very expensive and time consuming thing to remove, repair and replace the gearbox. Add to that I'm in the process of building a very expensive garage with a lift and either I'd have to wait for that to be finished or do it without a lift. That was a really, really painful thought.

To try and rule out the gearbox, I tried wiggling the cable end connecting the shifter to the gearbox on the gearbox end. It seemed to have some give but in order to definitely rule out the gearbox, I'd need to enlist my able assistant, my 11 year old daughter.

I had her sit in the driver's seat and work the shifter. I asked her to put pressure on the shifter, then relax it. She did that over and over while I felt the link to the gearbox at the cable. The gearbox doodad seemed to have play when the shifter was tensioned but not a lot. It could be jammed. Nothing definite there.

I had her keep it up while I looked at it carefully and just then I noticed a piece of metal tube seemed to be free at the end of the cable. Hello? I don't think you belong there. As she worked the shifter, I grabbed the tube and rotated it. Just then, the shifter slipped out of 3rd and into neutral. Ahhh! Urika! I've found it.

From the looks of it, the end of the cable appears to have some sort of guide or perhaps it's just a termination that may have had a boot on it at one time. It's gone now. This tube is sort of free floating on the cable end and when it manages to get in between where the cable ends and the connector for hooking it to the gearbox begins, the tube thing gets stuck between the two and jams the cable.

I managed to move this tube thing back into position onto what feels like a rubber bushing. It's staying there for now but will be free to roam if I can't lock it down. My thought is to wrap it with a bit of rubber and use a couple of hose clamps to secure it. The real fix would be to replace the cables themselves but that is a huge job and would require a lot more effort than I want to apply because of a broken boot.

Here are some fun pictures:

First, what Ricamia has on their site: (circled in red)

Here's what it looks like through the scope between the loose tube and the cable:

Here's what it looks like through the scope after pushing it back:

Here's a picture looking from back to front showing the tube in the correct position:

I'm posting this in case any other unfortunate has the same problem.I'm considering just removing the tube. It's pretty thin metal and I could probably cut it off quite easily with an acetylene torch, or something perhaps a little less aggressive.


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