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My Subaru Gearstick Is Floppy

There's a lot of rumours about mechanics secretly being a little... strange... around the naming of things. With bleeder nipples, blind holes, suction valves and the ever present "flange" (it's just fun to say).

While it's true that most of us like to have a chuckle, something just feels inherently icky about proclaiming a floppy stick (gearstick that is).

So if it's true that no one really enjoys a floppy gearstick, how has it become such a common problem for Subaru's (not speaking for their owners).

This all (unfortunately) comes down to 2 main problems, noise, vibration and harshness (often referred to as NVH) and packaging.

In the "good old days" of "big, locally built, made from steel" Holden's and Ford's, transmission would sit right in the middle of the car and would have a gearstick planted directly on top. This often made for a huge bulge in the floor which all the interior had to accommodate for and where the transmission would sit.

As time went on, manufacturers began to look at ways to subtly increase the interior space of vehicle and found a shortcut in slowly moving the transmission further and further forward.

Though all this packaging did improve the interior comfort of cars a fair bit, one downside was that gearstick's now needed a linkage (a mechanical connection) the shift the transmission from gear to gear. A linkage that used a bushing to allow for all the twisting and pushing in each gear change.

In addition to improving the packaging, manufacturers now had to consider all of the noise, vibrations and harshness introduced by the linkages and, while many companies opted for a hard plastic option, Subaru tended to go for a much softer (and nicer feeling) rubber bushing.

These rubber bushes tend to wear heavily over time and unfortunately cause Subaru's (quite common) floppy stick. Even though it is a bother, they are still reasonably inexpensive to fix and (we think) are a perfectly valid trade off for all the benefits.


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