I just installed the JHM ‘Solid’ Short Shifter kit for my B7 Audi S4, another great mod from JHM! I opted to keep the OEM shift knob and go for the short shifter only rather than the trio package, and picked up a great deal during their holiday sale this past December. After driving around for a few weeks, I wish I hadn’t waited so long to get this – what a huge improvement! Shifting feels great and definitely fixes some of my primary complaints with the 6MT S4…even the “lazy” shifts during daily commuting are improved, not to mention how much more fun the spirited driving is…
This mod definitely tightened up the shifting – I had no idea how loose and sloppy the OEM shifter was until I drove with this. After proper adjusting I think the shifting feels very smooth and easy; I have heard some complain about a notchy feeling from some but I don’t have this complaint personally and think it feels far superior to OEM in every way.
The shifting is definitely much shorter, but that being said, I’ve driven cars much shorter – this feels more like how Audi should have offered from the factory than an aftermarket kit, IMO. I sat in a new STI over the weekend that had their factory short shifter kit installed and the OEM Subaru short shifter is much shorter than this – so be rest assured this mod won’t make finding gears tricky or seem cheap/aftermarket/touchy – it’s a pretty conservative (but much needed) adjustment that tightens up shifting without overdoing it. Like I noted before, it really does help make ever shift easier regardless of the scenarios – just make sure you have it adjusted right, which can be tricky as it’s a precision piece and has to be lined up ever so perfectly.
Installation was definitely DIYable – it’s actually fairly easy other than the adjusting process which is definitely tedious as many others have described. Removing and installing the unit itself was very easy following the videos JHM has posted. The only tool I didn’t have was snap ring pliers – you can pick up a set for less than $8 on Amazon, and you definitely need these to install this product. Otherwise just watch and follow along the videos and installing the hardware is very straightforward – it’s only the adjusting that gets tricky…
For adjusting – I’d recommend after getting it there, leave the the trim off the car and drive around a little to make sure you have it exactly where you want. I watched the videos below several times and got it very close (about 90% of the way there) but it was notchy in first and second and wouldn’t slip into gear if I pulled too far towards me, so I posted on Audizine and got some helpful advice to get the final adjustment dialed in. First and second are now very smooth and not notchy at all, and I’m very happy with the final settings. This is the advice I followed, and the end result after the second round of adjustment appears as above:
Anyways, I loosened up the linkages and set the stick to basically 10 degrees aft and 3 degrees right as per one of the videos and then set the lower aluminum sleeve to almost cover the entire shaft below and then moved the upper settings to about 75% aft position. Long story short if you just keep trying to adjust two linkage settings to how the videos describe you will get it operating smoothly. As you know it’s a very fine line between reverse and 1st and 2nd being smooth. I have it now set so that my 1st and 2nd are very smooth and reverse is ever so slightly notchy to find since 1st and 2nd are used way more and need to be useable quickly. Loosen bolts and make small adjustments, tighten and try it out, then repeat until you get it perfect is all that I did.
You can see in the picture above that is about how I have it…
JHM Installation Video:
The other options you get are stiffer springs – these don’t change the shifts much, but will prevent you from popping into manual on accident and will return the shifter to neutral/middle position quicker, so it can be a nice change. I currently have the softest spring installed, but may try out the medium spring supplied with the kit later down the road – it’s pretty easy to swap out with the use of the snap ring pliers.
There was also a nice DIY on Euroaddiction which was helpful to remove the OEM assembly. In total I spent a little bit under 2 hours on the process, and probably half of that was in the adjustment process. That being said, it wasn’t that tough and was enjoyable to work on the car a little. I’m glad I waited to install it myself, even if it took a few weekends to find a quiet Sunday to finally get my hands dirty 🙂
This is a mod I strongly recommend to B6/B7 S4 owners with a manual transmission. It can be installed yourself, is fairly affordable, and drastically improves the car in nearly any setting. Among all of the mods I’ve done, this is one of my favorites!