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-   -   Very disappointed in my B&M SSK (http://986forum.com/forums/boxster-general-discussions/2792-very-disappointed-my-b-m-ssk.html)

Adam 05-30-2005 03:38 PM

Very disappointed in my B&M SSK
Well, I took the leap and installed a B&M Short Shift Kit on my boxster today and all I can say is I'm pissed off and very disappointed. I took my time and had my mechanically inclined father help me out on the project which ended up taking 2 1/2 hours not an hour as the intructions said. It is not exactly a snap to install....there are 51 steps in the instruction manual. First disappointment was with the instructions. They say the shift knob is held on by a 5mm bolt and in some cases a set screw on the 986. After tearing the face and top of my shift knob apart...that know does not fit back together as good as it once did we found no 5mm allen bolt or a set screw. As a last chanc resort I yanked on the shift knob and it did come off with a good tug. The knob is not bolted on as the instructions indicated but rather just a FRICTION FIT. After finally getting the thing on the car, I tried it out as it was parked in the garage and it was pretty bad. It moves smoothly from side to side when the stick is in neutral but but it takes a very big effort to get it into any gear now....but particulary first and reverse. I thought maybe the tranny just needed to be warm so I went for a 1/2 hour test drive to see if it would be any better. To my dismay it was HORRIBLE. The shifts are shorter but it feels like crap. It takes about 3X more effort to get into gear and the shift feel is terrible. I know other B&M users said there would be a slight increase in shift effort but this is rediculous. The 2-3 and 3-5 shifts are hard to hit and I had to shift very slow and deliberately for it to engage and hit the gate. There is also a clunking feel as you go into the 1st 3rd and 5th gear. On top of it all the shifter knob came loose as I was driving so it was moving up and down until I banged on it with my hand. I can't possibly see this as normal. I thought this B&M shifter was supposed to make the shifting better not worse. My dad and I are almost sure we installed it correctly but if anyone can give me any insight on why this is happening I would be very grateful because I'm about ready to rip the thing out of my car and throw it in the garbage. Sorry for the rant but this is very aggravating. Caveat Empor I guess.

Brucelee 05-30-2005 04:04 PM


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Adam 05-30-2005 04:15 PM

The reason I went with the B&M is because it has been around quite some time and virtually everyone here that has it was raving about how great an upgrade it was. You are right abou the hand position as well, it feels awkward now and unatural. The worst part is you have to cut off the OEM bushings in order to install the B&M and now I'm SOL because now I have to get another set of bushings from Germany or just use the OEM shifter with the B&M bushings and eat the cost of the shifter kit.

Brucelee 05-30-2005 04:42 PM

No returns on this BBK?

Adam 05-30-2005 05:06 PM

I can't return it or sell it until I get a new set of OEM bushings if that was what you meant.

eslai 05-30-2005 07:14 PM

Short shifters can be a mixed bag. I've installed a few different ones on various cars and generally I hate the way they feel. Sure, they shorten the throw, but they do increase shift effort. Especially if you're going to be doing a lot of rowing, like at a track, any extra effort is unwelcome.

But it shouldn't take THREE TIMES as much effort! Something is wrong and you should probably not drive the car until you find out what it is. I'm not familiar with anything on a Porsche tranny, but it sounds like you definitely have something installed incorrectly.

The bit about the shift knob (I'm looking at the instructions online right now) is that they're telling you to remove it, and they're saying that some cars have a set screw that takes a 5mm hex key. Vague of them, but not inaccurate--they should've said that it usually just pops off.

The installation looks pretty complex on the Boxster, but the one area where I could see problems cropping up is in the cable end adjustment. If you're feeling like the shifter is taking too much effort, I would guess that the end links are too loose or too tight. You should be able to shift easily with very little extra effort when the car is off.

Other than that, the "free play" adjustment they talk about with the set screw on the aluminum bushings could be an issue maybe...

Sorry, can't help you more than that without actually being there and playing with things. :(

Lux 05-30-2005 07:47 PM

There's one of two answers here. One is you f'd up the installation. The 2nd is you're the 5% that hate the B&M. I'm going to assume the former and not the latter.

Some things to check:
1. Did you mess with/adjust the shifter cables (you shouldn't)? If you did, you're going to need a Porsche "centering" tool (plastic part that centers the shifter so you can adjust the cables).
2. Did you back off the jam nut 1/4 turn after adjusting it for the correct amount of play in the aluminum bushings?
3. Did you lubricate the ball joint and bushings?

The shifter will require a little more effort (nowhere near 3x you described). Hell, it takes more effort to turn the steering wheel. The shifter should be a little notchy but still smooth...and of course a lot shorter travel.

Obviously this is all relative. As you can guess, I love the B&M shifter. To me, the stock shifter has the precision of stirring a screwdriver in a bowl of pasta.

Tool Pants has put in hundreds of these things. Maybe he can give you a better diagnosis.

By the way, money back guarantee doesn't really mean much since you have to buy the entire shifter assembly to go back to stock. Porsche does not sell just the bushings (as far as I know). If you really want to go back to stock, look for someone that wants to trade for your B&M. But I would advise you to give it another shot.


Adam 05-30-2005 08:56 PM

Eslai, yeah the instructions were vague at best on step #2. It did not say anything about some shifters having a friction fit. It said I needed use a 5mm allen wrench and also maybe unscrew a set screw so I was alittle mad after tearing my shifter knob apart only to find nothing.

I marked the shifter cables with permanant marker so I would retain the factory settings(is it possible for the shifter to be this bad if the shift cables are maybe 1mm off in either way because that is possble I suppose because the threads they lock into are pretty small. It has to be very very close to where it was before because I have the marks lined up right. Maybe it is just me but the way the cable locks into platic threads looks pretty weak to me but I guess it's sufficient. The instructions said (as far as I can tell? that the said the jam nut/setscrew affects the side to side play and the centering of the shifter(perhaps it affects moving up and down into gear but I don't see how?) The shifter is smooth when moving it from side to side when in neutral and it centers itself fine. Perhaps the jam nut or set screw is too tight and making the shift effort too hard? Right now I have it set with no up and down play but it isn't tightened down hard either. Do I want some "play" in the assmebly? I did use grease on the ball and the bushings but one thing that was funny was that the OEM ball on the side of the shifter had a plastic retainer....but the B&M ball seemed too large and the instructions didn't mention it so I left the snap on retainer off the B&M ball that stabilizes the shifter. Is this not right? Other than the jam nut/setscrew or the snap on ball thingy I'm out of answers because I'm almost certain I have the cables aligned right. You said I cant reuse my stock shifter?? At the very least can't I install the OEM shifter into the B&M bushings??? I certainly hope so or I'm really not going to be happy because right now I just want my old shifter back!

P.S. TOOL PANTS please help! What is your take on the B&M?

Lux 05-30-2005 10:10 PM

If you marked the cables then I think we can eliminate that issue.

I also think the side ball goes onto the plastic piece without the OEM's extra "adapter". But I've only done one install (my car) and that was over a year ago so my memory is fuzzy on it.

I also can't remember how I set up my shifter but I think I did allow a little play in it. I suggest you play around with different amounts of tightening of the bushings to see if it helps.

Hate to say it, but I think you're SOL on using your old shifter. Again, go over the install and adjust the bushings. Even set it up loose and see how the shifter feels. If you still hate it, then I guess you're in the 5%. I don't think you'll have a hard time finding someone to trade you for a stock shifter.

BTW, just so everyone else doesn't think this is some half-assed shifter...Porsche sells the same shifter except that it's anodized black, has a "P" stamped on it and costs $400.


wetstuff 05-31-2005 06:28 AM

...my 01 came with the B&M. I found a stock S-shifter on Ebay - from someone who installed a B&M...switched them and sold my B&M to someone else. I didn't 'hate' it, just didn't like it.

The Sun keeps coming up each morning.


bluelagoon 05-31-2005 12:43 PM

That plastic OEM ball retainer gets removed with the B&M shifter, you will notice the original ball diameter is small than the new one. I like mine, a little more notchy but not bad. the shorter throw is worth it.

lavsman 05-31-2005 02:57 PM

Hello Adam,

I think I know what the problem may be. In the B&M Instructions I do not believe that they mention to mark, using white out, the position of the of the 2 cable holders in conjunction to the shift cables to assure that when reassembling the assembly you maintain the already adjusted position. This position was done from the factory and if this adjustment changes, which is easy to do when installing the SSK, you can get a real crummy shift.

The Schnell SSK instructions do point this out. Although my opinion about the Schnell SSK is biased, as I am the sales manager of ****************************************.com authorized distributor of the Schnell product, I can say that the B&M SSK should not have a bad shift feeling, even though the Schnell is, by far, a better product ;)

If you have any questions on adjusting your shifter you can always call our tech guys for assistance.

Hope this helps.

Vertex Automotive

98Boxster98 05-31-2005 03:27 PM

Charles (lavsman) - your willingness to offer advice to someone who is using a product other than your own is to me the best kind of advertising you can do. That's the kind of place I want with whom I want to do business. I have a Porsche short shifter (B&M) with which I bought with the car and I am quite happy but I hope to do business with you in the future.

Brucelee 05-31-2005 03:37 PM

Thanks for helping out Charles! We appreciate it.


Adam 05-31-2005 04:00 PM

Thankyou Charles I appreciate the help. I actually did mark the cables with a permanant marker as the instructions said so that can't be it I guess. I'm thinking I'm just in the 5% that doesn't like the feel of the shift(the effort is just too labored and notchy/tight). My friend has a SSK in his 02 Altima and it is much much smother and even shorter yet(they are worlds apart so I know I'm not just a wimp or really picky). I just can't believe it is this bad. I'm going to try mess around with the adjustments tonight and if it doesn't get a whole lot better I'm going to see if I can throw my OEM shifter into the B&M bushings and get the stock feel back and just chalk it up to a $200 lesson. Lux, I don't know why you think I can't do this, but maybe I will have the answer to that in an hour or two.

Adam 05-31-2005 08:48 PM

I messed around with the cable adjustments and other things for about an hour tonight and didn't see much improvement if any. I looked up B&M's website and they said to expect a significant increase in shift effort over stock in the FAQ section. I'm guessing the cable driven tranny we have in the boxster exacerbates this effect. I'm really quite suprised more boxster owners who have done this mod are cussing at their B&M shifter right now. My dad tried it too and said it is pretty awful. It looks like the OEM shifter will work with the B&M bushings but the fit is tight and it probably wont center all that well or be smooth. My best hope now is too call my dealer who is 2 hours away and pray they can get some OEM bushings so I can go back to stock otherwise this could cost alot more than I planned on. Maybe then I can recoup my money back on the part but I really don't care much about that right now....just want my old shifter back. Charlie, I'm tempted to try your shifter but I don't want to keep throwing good money after bad or deal with sending it back. Perhaps I just should have been satified with what I had. Lesson learned.

KRZTACO 06-01-2005 09:47 AM

Hi Adam,

I purchased the Schnell Short Shifter....if you didn't like the B&M your NOT going to like the Schnell.

The shift does require a lot MORE effort to shift and is very notchy.

I prefere the shorter throw and willing to forgo the notchyness (is that a word?).

I love the Schnell, however in the future will replace with the OEM shifter when I sell the car.

Adam 06-01-2005 05:20 PM

Thankyou for the heads up and being honest about the shift effort. I know the word "slight" means different things to different people but I feel alittle mislead. In the end though that is my fault because talking about something over the net and experiening it in person is not the same and people are subjective. Sure the throws are shorter but I feel the much smoother feel of the OEM far outweighs that benefit of a shorter shift. I know not all short shifters have to be this tough to shift but it appears so with the boxster. I just got off the phone with the dealer and it looks like you can't just buy the OEM plastic bushings so they say. It looks like I may have to buy the whole shifter assembly plus the bracket that it lays in which bolts into to the floor of the car. They quoted me a price of $179.00 for the whole assembly which seems quite reasonable for Porsche parts. I guess the price is the silver lining on this cloud(if it is correct). I'm going to check a few other places just to make sure the price is right and I have no other alternative. What do you think Richard, does this seem right to you?

porscheguy05 06-01-2005 06:27 PM

I am sorry you had a bad experience. I had the opposite, and can shift mine with very little effort using two fingers. I also have no problems going in and out of all the gears. It sounds like something is out of alignment. I am wondering if either you got a deffective unit or it is adjusted improperly. I do admit that it was harder to install than I thought, but then again what aftermarket part isn't harder than expected.

Adam 06-01-2005 06:57 PM

I envy you. I wish I had the experience you had. I think my car is just allergic to the B&M or something because it is nothing like that for me now. Since the stick is really the main connecion to the car besides the steering wheel it can really make or break the driving experience. Perhaps there is a pretty large variable on how the kit effects our cars. My car was never as smooth from the get-go as another 02 S I drove. That thing was like butta and I have always wished mine felt like that but it just isn't going to happen no matter what. Alot can happen between a shifter and a tranny that sits about 5 ft away.

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