DIY: Kartboy 5 speed short shifter install! 06-08 Forester specific, 06-14 Impreza/Wrx & 06-09 Legacy/Outback

So you love shifter your 5 speed Subaru around, but you often wonder… What could make this experience even more magical! Enter the Kartboy short shifter! I have ran a Kartboy short shifter in my STi for many years and now it is time for the Forester to get the upgrade!

Whether you like them tall…

Whether you like them tall…

… or short! Short shifters are a great addition to any vehicle!

… or short! Short shifters are a great addition to any vehicle!

Time

Not many visually differences between oem and the Kartboy shift lever, a 40% in shift reduction isn’t easy to spy, but being an inch shorter overall is notably. For this installation you are looking at around 30 minutes give or take.

Oem vs  Kartboy  and the easy visual differences between the two. A one inch reduction on the Kartboy.

Oem vs Kartboy and the easy visual differences between the two. A one inch reduction on the Kartboy.

Tools

These are the tools we will be using today. A set of nonmarring panel tool set, a 12mm wrench or two, a 12mm socket and ratchet, rubber gloves/work gloves, snap ring pliers, needle nose pliers, flat head screwdriver.

Here are the tools you need… well some are for the front and rear shifter stay bushings but these are all great tools to have for you DIY’er!

Here are the tools you need… well some are for the front and rear shifter stay bushings but these are all great tools to have for you DIY’er!

Install

We will start by parking a flat area and chaulking the rear wheel. Your first step will be removing the shift knob, which for Oem Subaru shift knob will be spinning them off. Righty tighty, lefty loosey.

Removal of the shift know will be your first step. This allows the boot to come up and over.

Removal of the shift know will be your first step. This allows the boot to come up and over.

Then disassembling the center console will allow you access to the shifter and the bolts you need to remove. All you need to get to the shifter on the Forester is pulling up on the shifter surround and you are in. Now you will disconnect the cigarette electrical connection and set the shifter surround off to the side for now.

Pulling up on the front of the shifter surround will expose the innards and we can get to work.

Pulling up on the front of the shifter surround will expose the innards and we can get to work.

This connection holds the cigarette lighter to the surround. Undoing the clip with the foam coating will allow you to place it aside.

This connection holds the cigarette lighter to the surround. Undoing the clip with the foam coating will allow you to place it aside.

Our two first removed parts come off with little effort and you can now continue on.

Our two first removed parts come off with little effort and you can now continue on.


You will be able to see rubber boot that keeps the dirt, debris and temperature out of the cabin. Locate the four plastic screws that hold it in place. You can use a flat head screwdriver, panel tool set, pliers or fingers. These are plastic and screw into a metal stud, so if you press a bit too hard with your screwdriver you will find it won’t come out. Using a panel tool and a screwdriver is your best bet and makes this an breeze, use the panel tool underneath to add upwards force and use the screwdriver to spin it out.

This rubber boot needs to come out. Two clips in the front (not in view) and the two clips in the rear secure it to the car.

This rubber boot needs to come out. Two clips in the front (not in view) and the two clips in the rear secure it to the car.

Clips out of the way and you can pull the rubber boot back.

Clips out of the way and you can pull the rubber boot back.

The old shifter is now exposed! Next up is the nut and bolt.

The old shifter is now exposed! Next up is the nut and bolt.

With the rubber boot removed you can remove the 12 mm bolt and nut that fastens the shift linkage to the shifter. Place them aside and you can now locate the c-clip that holds the stock shifter from popping out. This can be removed with a set of snap ring pliers and out comes your shifter.

With the nut removed the bolt will slide out. There is a notch in the car to show you where it needs to come out and go back in.

With the nut removed the bolt will slide out. There is a notch in the car to show you where it needs to come out and go back in.

C-clip that secures the shifter into the linkage is located somewhere beneath the grease. Use a a screwdriver and paper towel to clean the area and locate the holes.

C-clip that secures the shifter into the linkage is located somewhere beneath the grease. Use a a screwdriver and paper towel to clean the area and locate the holes.

Getting in there and removing the clip. This isn’t the most fun job in the world given the grease on the tool and clip will make this much more difficult.

Getting in there and removing the clip. This isn’t the most fun job in the world given the grease on the tool and clip will make this much more difficult.

Now is a great time to replace your front and rear stay bushings. That install guide link right here.

This is the cup and linkage that holds the shifter in place. A DIY for it will be located here soon. Now back to the task at hand.  Stay bushing install guide

This is the cup and linkage that holds the shifter in place. A DIY for it will be located here soon. Now back to the task at hand. Stay bushing install guide

Having both shifter on your work space you can start to swap over parts. Start by putting on a set of your favorite rubber gloves to remove the lube from the ball of the oem shifter and move it to the Kartboy unit. At this time you can also move over the plastic housing that clamps the shifter ball in.

Oem shifter on the left Kartboy on the left. We will need to take off the plastic clip and transfer it ovcer

Oem shifter on the left Kartboy on the left. We will need to take off the plastic clip and transfer it ovcer

We go ahead and transfer that grease too. If you like you can always replace it but looks pretty good to me!

We go ahead and transfer that grease too. If you like you can always replace it but looks pretty good to me!

C-clip and plastic cushion ready to be moved.

C-clip and plastic cushion ready to be moved.

Grease transferred!

Grease transferred!

With both the C-clip and plastic cushion replaced we can get ready to put it back into the car.

With both the C-clip and plastic cushion replaced we can get ready to put it back into the car.

The new short shifter is ready to go back inside the vehicle and shift again. Slide it back into the shift linkage cup and reapply the c-clip to keep it in place during those speed shifts! Line up the holes on the shifter and shift linkage and get our 12mm wrenches out to tighten it back in place.

Popping the shift lever and cushion back into the linkage. Ready your snap ring pliers to reinstall the c-clip.

Popping the shift lever and cushion back into the linkage. Ready your snap ring pliers to reinstall the c-clip.

With the C-clip set back in it’s channel you are ready to move on.

With the C-clip set back in it’s channel you are ready to move on.

After you get the bolt back through the shifter and linkage take out your trusty 12mm wrenches or sockets and get the nut and bolt ran back down.

After you get the bolt back through the shifter and linkage take out your trusty 12mm wrenches or sockets and get the nut and bolt ran back down.

Once it is tight you may replace the rubber dust boot, place the four plastic clips back in place. It is starting to go back together!

Now you can place the rubber boot back on and the clips can snapped down.

Now you can place the rubber boot back on and the clips can snapped down.

We will take the shifter surround and plug the 12 volt connections for the cigarette back together and snap it back into place. With the shift boot back over the shift lever you can replace you shift knob and step back to enjoy your work!

Back in with the cigarette connection. And on then return the shifter trim back on.

Back in with the cigarette connection. And on then return the shifter trim back on.

Shifter surround installed, almost done!

Shifter surround installed, almost done!

Spin on your shift knob and you are back in business! Take a moment to shift everything back through the gears to make sure everything is content in it’s new locations and working well.

Spin on your shift knob and you are back in business! Take a moment to shift everything back through the gears to make sure everything is content in it’s new locations and working well.

Back to being on the road. Enjoy the crisp new shifts and if you installed the front and rear bushing stays, relish the lack of bushing play and nice tight feeling of the shifter movement.

Back to being on the road. Enjoy the crisp new shifts and if you installed the front and rear bushing stays, relish the lack of bushing play and nice tight feeling of the shifter movement.

Congrats you have now shortened the throw of the factory unit by 40% and lost about an inch of height. Giving the shifts a much more satisfying fee! If you did the front and rear stay bushing you will feel like you are driving a completely different car, as the shift feel is now amazing. If not you can look forward to that install soon and an even greater appreciation for your 5 speed Subaru!

Amazon links for parts!

Kartboy short shifter 06-13 Forester, 08-14 Impreza/Wrx, 06-09 Legacy/Outback 03-06 Baja

Kartboy short shifter and bushing kit

Energy suspension front and rear stay bushing kit Not used in this DIY but a great addition to the linkage.

Links for tools used!

12mm Gearwrench ratcheting wrench swivel head

Gearwrench metric ratcheting swivel head wrench set

Non marring body panel tool set

Proto 4 piece Screwdriver set

Raven nitrile gloves 100ct

Gorilla grip large gloves

Danco Silicone Grease

Needle nose pliers


Dan EngstromComment