APE Short Shift Kit

Pros: Very short shift throws
Cons: Hard to install, made my shifter sloppy
Cost: $99


However the installation procedure was long and painful, mainly because the installation instructions were not only bad THEY WERE WRONG. If I knew what it was going to take I probably would have passed on this kit. I guess the point I’m trying to make here is if you want a short shift kit, have a garage mechanic install it. He’ll have a lift so he won’t have to lay on his back, and he probably has tools designed to work in cramped spaces. Print out the installation webpage and hand it to him, he can probably do it within an hour (where it took me over 3).Yet another example of “You get what you pay for”. Once I got the APE short shift kit installed I was somewhat pleased with the results. Given the relatively low price I initially thought I got $99 worth of satisfaction out of AutoThority’s product.

The shift is definitely shorter and more comfortable, however there seems to be a little more wiggle/looseness in the stick when the car is in gear (especially 3rd). This is hard to describe but when the transmission is in 3rd gear I can move the stick left and right about three-quarters the distance of the shift knob. At first this slightly annoyed me but now I’m really bugged by it. The shift just doesn’t feel right, I would prefer the shift be tighter, enough so that I actually crawled back under the car and removed the entire assembly to see what stock felt like again. Once I felt the longer but tighter stock shift I decided to leave the short shift kit off. After talking to a few others that have the APE short shift kit it appears that a few owners (but not the majority) developed the same sloppy feel that mine did.

I guess the bottom line is I wish I never would have wasted my time and money on this kit.

Installation

For $99 I got a sheet of paper, a metallic purple aluminum piece, a bolt, a washer, and a c-clip. So I definitely did not receive $99 worth of parts, I’ll have to wait until it’s installed to see if I got $99 worth of convenience.

Step 1 of the instructions said, to lift the car so that you can work under it. This is harder than it sounds but I managed to get the car up on some jack stands that left just enough clearance room to slide under the car.

Step 2 of the instructions said, LOCATE THE SHIFT LEVER UNDERNEATH THE CAR – it is located directly below the shift knob, underneath the car along the centerline. It is just above the driveshaft. This picture is deceptive because I was able to stick a camera into this area, in reality you will never get this good a look at the connection. The shift lever is directly above the catalytic converter (which would have been a useful addition to the instructions). Between the catalytic converter and the shift lever is a heat shield and the drive shaft. Because of this you have very little room to maneuver. Basically I had enough room to get one hand into this area, and then I couldn’t see what I was doing. But get use to this, 90% of this installation will have to be done by touch alone. You can get a little extra room if you unscrew the six circle looking screws that are holding the heat shield in place. You can’t remove the heat shield but this will lower it an extra inch or so and make installation much easier.

Step 3 of the instructions said, SLIDE THE SNAP RING OFF AND REMOVE THE YELLOW WASHER. This was very difficult to accomplish, I ended up loosing the C-Clip and cutting two of my fingers trying to pull it off, and carefully removing the yellow washer (which is plastic). The instructions don’t tell you to do this but your going to half to any way. Go ahead and carefully pull the shift rod towards the passenger side. BE CAREFUL there is a plastic yellow washer on that side too and you don’t want to loose it.

Apparently what has happened here is the creator (Authority Performance Engineering) thought the shift link (the gold rod) was designed to enter the shift rod on the drivers side (maybe that’s the way it is in a 3 series). However as you can see from the picture above, the rod is on the passenger side. Because of this you will need to reverse what the instructions say to do to keep the rod on the passenger side.

I found that it was much easier to install the adapter if I removed the entire rod and do some of the work outside of that cramped space. (This was not included in the instructions). Follow the gold shift link rod forward until you find where it connects to the transmission. You wont be able to see it but in this picture I held a mirror up so you can see that it attaches just like the rear with a C-Clip and two plastic yellow washers. Remove the clip (which is on the driver side and one of the plastic yellow washers. Then slide the gold shift link rod towards the passenger side and free it from the link BE CAREFUL there is also another plastic yellow washer on the passenger side to.

At this point the entire gold shift link rod is loose and you can remove it. Once it is removed we can easily install the short shift kit. Honestly I don’t think I could have installed these parts in that tight enclosure. On one end of the gold shift link rod put on one of the plastic yellow washers, then the purple aluminum piece, then the other plastic yellow washer, then the C-Clip that came with the kit. The direction you install the purple piece makes a difference, make sure the more open (machined out) end is facing away from the 90 degree joint in the gold shift link rod. (Just look at the picture). At this point we’re half done, take a break, give your hands a rest and have a beer.

Okay crawl back under the Z3 and reattach the gold shift rod at the front (transmission). Remember to insert the rod from the passenger side (opposite what the instructions tell you to do) with a yellow washer on each side and then use the C-Clip on the driver side. Once this is done reposition yourself to stick you hand back to the rear link and reinstall the rod on that end. This is going to be very frustrating, but the purple piece will go on the passenger side and a bolt and washer will be installed from the driver side. The problem I ran into hear is trying to tighten the bolt. I barely had enough room for my hand, the combination of my hand, a socket wrench was nearly impossible. I could feel my way to put the socket on the bolt, but then I had to move my hand back to the socket wrench handle and half the time the socket ended up dropping off the bolt. When I got it too stick I could only turn the bolt one click on the ratchet. Basically it took 30 minutes (no kidding) to tighten this bolt. I almost gave up to and buy a slim power socket but my determination prevailed.