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My brother gave us his 1997 Avalon...   floor mounted shift      (vs. shift on steering wheel)

Posted on 2010-11-10
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Hi EE,

Very basic questions, just wondering...

a) is there a practical benefit to having a floor mounted gear shift vs. having it on the steeing wheel

b) when i would shift gears on a 1992 buick le sabre (which we just gave away....)
the stick would move slowly (which was good for me, bec it caused me to think about
my intended direction)

with the floor mounted shift, i was able to move quickly from PARK to DRIVE without the
stick "catching" slightly in REV,  is this normal behavior, or should the stick "catch" in REV
before moving to DRIVE?

c) Do you know why the shift was designed so that:
          PARK is followed by REV,  and why PARK is not followed by DRIVE
          I never really thought about it with the Le Sabre.

d) when you shift gears with a floor mounted shift, do you just look at the dash, AND NOT
LOOK AT THE FLOOR? I look at the dash panel as I did when i shifted gear on the Le Sabre.

e) when i turn on the headlights, the letters of the gear on the dash as not as bright as the
light behind the speedometer? is that normal?

tx for your help, sandra
Question by:mytfein
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LVL 34

Accepted Solution

Michael-Best earned 500 total points
ID: 34104308
a/ personal taste? Some people tend to loose steering concentration with a floor mounted gear shift.
b/ able to move quickly from PARK to DRIVE without the stick "catching" slightly in REV,  is this normal behavior ...Yes
c/ Park Reverse Neutral Drive ...most people drive forwards into a car parking space/ garage, so the first position is rev. to un-park the car.
d/ personal taste?
e/ yes
Note with an automatic you are not constantly changing gear as with a manual, so the "Some people tend to loose steering concentration with a floor mounted gear shift." is more for a manual car, but it depends alot on what car you leaned to drive or drove the most?

More info.:

LVL 34

Assisted Solution

Michael-Best earned 500 total points
ID: 34104478
a/ (steeing wheel ) Column shifters are mechanically similar to floor shifters, although shifting occurs in a vertical plane instead of a horizontal one. Column shifters also generally involve additional linkages to connect the shifter with the transmission. The major advantage of a column shifter is that the driver can switch between the two most commonly used gears without letting go of the steering wheel.
Also Column shifters free up space on the floor for other car features such as storage compartments.

Author Comment

ID: 34104521
Hi Michael,

tx for writing...

just read the wiki article that you supplied... thank you:

The article confirms that with shift in the steering column, you pull the lever towards you before you
move away from P.  You are confirming that with floor mounted shift, if the shift button is depressed
you can move seamlessly to other gears, instead of it catching (i suspect that's why newer model
cars have a zig zag path now in the floor mounted shift)

I live in a metro city where parallel parking is part of life and so changing gears is common.

Except for parallel parking, i try to avoid going into reverse bec. one has to be very alert.
I'd rather go around the block instead of doing a fancy driving maneuver to get a parking spot.

As you said the article, mentions this which really concerns me:
<Some shifters with a shift button allow the driver to freely move the shifter from R to N or D, or simply moving the shifter to N or D without actually depressing the button>

I will have to be extra vigilant before taking my foot off the brake when parking.
A driving teacher from years ago had a mantra "gear before stear", and that was with an American car.

I'm thinking of
a) taking parking lessons with a local school that uses a Camry to retrain my brain  and
to see their shift mechanism and how they teach....

b) buying a bumper guard for the rear

(I've been observing cars in the neighborhood and they are mostly foreign made cars, and still many
1997-1999 Camrys with straight lined floor shifting path.... just wondering to myself how people
got use to and accepted the the stick does not obviously catch bet. gears.......)
Well if you have any ideas, would be glad to hear....
tx, s

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LVL 34

Expert Comment

ID: 34104567
a/ advantages: They involve less linkages to connect the shifter with the transmission. And a stick (floor) shift is a fashion for some, with custom stick shift knobs:

Author Comment

ID: 34104669
Hi Michael,
A) what you said about the column gear shift mechanism tying into the transmission makes sense:

You see:
We bought the 1992 Le Sabre in 1997 and had it for 14 years.
Right after we got it, I noticed a loud click sound when would go into REV. I assumed it was an issue
related to the transmission, or how the transmission is mounted.

Anyway about 2002, the underneath of the car hit a bump, and damaged the transmission,
and even after we replaced the transmission, the car STILL made the lound click sound when i went
into REV.

b) Yes, I miss the room that the column steer shifter offered on the floor, we did not have bucket seats
in the le Sabre, so lifting the hand rest a little, gave me room for my handbag ..... that i wear the shoulder
strap across the shoulder ..... so that i would not forget my bag in the car.... and my bag is square like
a camera case....

c) Can you pls explain what you mean that with column steering, if you change gears, you still have
both hands on the wheel.... i mean if you switch gears, one hand is off the wheel for a short time,
BUT THAT HAND IS ***NEAR*** the wheel  just in case....

can you pls advise on c... tx, s


Author Comment

ID: 34104709
Hi Michael,

wow... custom made gear accessories.....  tx for making me aware

i have a related question that will post soon, tx, s
LVL 34

Expert Comment

ID: 34104754
Its 3:30am in Tokyo, but before I sleep.
c/  The major advantage of a column shifter is that the driver can switch between gears without letting go of the steering wheel, by reaching the lever using the index and middle fingers.
You may or may not find this comfortable / possible (due to hand size)

LVL 34

Expert Comment

ID: 34104790
I will have a beer before bed, so if you have a new question soon. then I can answer.

Author Comment

ID: 34104837
Hi Michael,

tx for all the info.... just posted.... here:


tx, s

Author Comment

ID: 34104843
btw,  had no idea about being able to shift gears using fingers....

tx for letting me know....


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