C5 Corvette Woes: What to Do When Your A4 Cable Breaks

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As your C5 ages, plastic parts break more and more as they are exposed to oils, sunlight, corrosion, or any number of deteriorating issues. Most of those plastic parts are a non-issue, but one of the most difficult and frustrating relates to the automatic shift cable. If that breaks, you can’t shift your Corvette from park, which can cause issues when you need it towed or just want to move it out of the way. However, there is a solution to make your C5 mobile in this time of need.


First, no, the solution I’m talking about does not involve replacing your A4 transmission with a 6-speed. You can still shift your transmission from park to neutral at the transmission using your hands or, worst case, a pair of pliers. However, it requires you to get under the car. The A4 is just a transaxle version of the 4L60E, the bell housing and tail housings are what really separate it from a normal rear-wheel-drive 4L60E. This is good because many of the parts interchange or are located in the same places.

shifter cable resize

You will need to lift the C5 into the air so that you can get under it. Before you begin chock a front wheel so it won’t roll away and place a jack under it on a lifting point on the driver’s side. Once it’s up and you’ve secured it with a jackstand, look around the driver’s side of the transmission near the bellhousing and you’ll see a black box with a lever bolted to it where your cable connects up, if it didn’t break there. That is your shift selector lever and the box with the electrical connectors tells the ECU what gear it’s in.


From here, you’ll need to move the selector to Neutral. This is where your pliers will come in handy if you can’t move it with your hand, but it shouldn’t be hard. The lockout that opens when you push down on the brake is in the lever and not here. Now, if it broke when you were in park you’ll move the lever counter-clockwise two clicks just like you would on a standard 4L60E. If you were in drive, you’ll move it clockwise once. Once you’ve done that you should be in neutral, but if the rear wheels don’t move freely (if you have both wheels in the air), then move the lever slightly more in the direction you turned it to ensure you had it properly engaged. Once the wheels turn freely, you can move the car.

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Justin Banner is a regular contributor to LS1Tech and JK Forum, among other auto sites.

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