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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now is a great time to replace your front and rear stay bushings. That install guide link right here.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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
Energy suspension front and rear stay bushing kit Not used in this DIY but a great addition to the linkage.