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Mustang Steeda Tri-Ax Shifter Install

Created by Jeff Jimenez
Last Updated 10/14/2020

Watch our installation video for the Steeda Tri-Ax Shifter. Get rid of the sloppy factory shifter in your Mustang!

Viewing this install and using the information shared is subject to the terms set forth here - View the LMR Install Instructions Disclaimer.

FOLLOW: mustang , 79 93 mustang , 94 04 mustang , fox body , sn95 , video , installation , steeda , driveline , transmission , shifter

Adding a short throw shifter to you Mustang is one of the first mods any enthusiast should make. The factory shifter is sloppy and prone to causing mis-shifts when doing some “spirited” driving – especially at the drag strip. Replacing your shifter is super easy with the help of Late Model Restoration’s installation video and a Steeda Tri-Ax shifter. Follow along in the video as we show how to install a short throw shifter in your Mustang.

Steeda Tri-Ax shifters are available for 1983+ Mustangs. This installation guide is designed the walk you through replacing one in your Fox Body, SN95 and New Edge Mustang. For these year models they are available for the following transmissions:

  • T5 & T45
  • TR-3650
  • 3550/TKO
  • TKO 500/600
  • T-56

If you are unsure what transmission is your Stang, check out the following tech article: What Transmission Do I Have In My Mustang?

The Steeda Tri-Ax features a CNC billet machined construction that is manufactured here in the USA. So you can show off your American pride with shorter more precise gear changes. The shifter handle works with your stock shifter knob or any of the aftermarket knobs that are designed to fit the factory handle. Every Tri-Ax kit includes all the needed hardware (minus RTV Silicone) and installation instructions to ensure you have a problem free install.

About the Video

Mustang Steeda Tri-Ax Short Throw Shifter Install

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Published on 2013-01-23
Stock Mustang shifters have tons of room for improvement. One option to help alleviate your stock clunky shifter is the Steeda Tri-ax shifter. Watch the video as Jmac shows you how to install a Steeda Tri-ax short throw shifter on a 99-04 Mustang GT. Installation is nearly identical for the 94-98 model Mustangs. If you need help with installation on your Fox Mustang be sure to check out our Fox Mustang Shifter Install Video for more details.

The Steeda Tri-Ax starts with precision CNC machined billet aluminum body. The body's heavy-duty construction features no welds, stampings or castings for ultimate durability and precision engineering to fit right.

The nickel-plated shaft won't rust or stain, and has been machined to exacting tolerances for smooth, precise operation. Offset pre-load springs make sure you find third gear every time and adjustable positive stops prevent damage to the transmission.

Up top, the Tri-Ax features an exclusive boot guard to prevent damage to the factory inner boot, two-position adjustable handle height and a new forged Tri-Ax shift handle. The forged aluminum handle is strongest and lightest handle available on the market. Its unique three-axis bend places the shift knob closer to the driver for fast, precise and comfortable shifts

Steeda Tri-ax shifters are available for the following transmissions: T-45, T-5, 3550, TKO 500/600, TR-3650, and T-56

Steeda Tri-ax Shifters are available for the following year model Mustangs: 1983 (83) - 1984 (84) - 1985 (85) - 1986 (86) - 1987 (87) - 1988 (88) - 1989 (89) - 1990 (90) - 1991 (91) - 1992 (92) - 1993 (93) - 1994 (94) - 1995 (95) - 1996 (96) - 1997 (97) - 1998 (98) - 1999 (99) - 2000 (00) - 2001 (01) - 2002 (02) - 2003 (03) - 2004 (04) - 2005 (05) - 2006 (06) - 2007 (07) - 2008 (08) - 2009 (09) - 2010 (10) - 2011 (11) - 2012 (12) - 2013 (13)

JONATHAN MCDONALD: Now, we've already showed you how to install a shifter on your Fox Mustang, so now we're going to show you how on a '94 to '04, and it's significantly easier, because you don't have to pull the entire console.

Now, the centerpiece today is going to be the Steeda Tri-Ax shifter. They have these available in all varieties to fit just about every transmission that's been in the Mustang or that you can put in a Mustang. Now, these feature solid billet construction for the utmost in strength with the lightest weight.

Now, you've got multiple shifter handle height locations. That way, you can set you height comfortably. And the shifter handle itself is offset toward you. That way, you have a very comfortable reach over to your shifter. The base itself is sprung so, no matter what, it returns right back to the center, which is your 3-4 location.

It comes with a rubber insulator that goes in between the shifter and the shifter handle to kind of cut out a little bit of the noise. And Steeda's the only one to offer this, this little ring, which goes over top of the shifter. It's a lower shifter boot protector. It keeps your rubber lower shifter boot from getting caught up in the shifter stops and getting all torn up. And unlike some other shifters on the market, you do not have to modify your lower shifter boot in any way to install this shifter.

It comes with all the needed hardware and, basically, the only thing you have to provide is a tube of silicone to reseal it to the transmission. Let's go ahead and move into the car and I'll show you how to take everything apart.

The first step to removing your stock shifter, go ahead and set your parking brake. Then remove your shifter knob-- grab hold and unscrew. Go ahead and set that out of the way, then slide the boot up off of the handle. Grab hold of the shifter bezel and pull the four clips loose and then unplug your power point.

Now, you want to grab you a 10 millimeter socket or wrench to remove the stock shifter bolts. Grab your handle and remove it from the stock shifter base, and then you can grab you a ratchet with an 8 millimeter or 5/16 socket and remove your lower shifter boot. You want to keep those screws handy because you will be reusing them.

And what those four out of the way, you can go ahead and pull up the lower shifter boot. Basically, what you're going to want to do is free it from the transmission tunnel, slide it forward and pull up on the passenger side, and then slide it over to get the driver side clear of the console, and then pull it out from the back straight out.

Now you've got your stock shifter base exposed, and you'll grab your ratchet and extension with a 13 millimeter or a 1/2 inch socket. Go ahead and remove all four of the stock shifter bolts, and you can go ahead and toss them to the side because you won't be reusing them. And then you can break the shifter base loose, and you may need to grab you a little pry bar or a screwdriver or something to break the silicone free. And then remove the shifter base from the transmission.

Go ahead and pull the shifter base up and don't toss it to the side just yet, because you have to remove your little plastic insulator bushing if your car is equipped with a 3650. If you've got a T5 or a T45, the insulator bushing stays in the transmission. Now, a pair of pliers, typically, will get this off. Or sometimes, you can even pull it off by hand, but not this one.

Then you can just gently pry it off and let it fly. There we go. Then clean it up a little bit. This is a dirty job, so go ahead and have plenty of paper towels or rags around to keep yourself clean.

Now you can go ahead and pop that insulator back onto the new shifter. It'll take a little bit of effort. There we go. Now, I'm going to clean up all the old silicone off of the transmission, get it all prepped up, put a new bead of silicone on it. I prefer to use Permatex Ultra Black. You can use pretty much anything that you like. I just prefer this because it seals and it doesn't harden. That way, you don't have to worry about it leaking over time.

So, I'm going to go ahead and get this cleaned up, then we'll come back and show you and put in your new Steeda shifter.

All right, the one thing to remember about silicone is it doesn't take a whole lot to get the job done. You want to put just a thin bead all the way around, and you don't just want to slather it all over the place. Because you're dealing with two machined surfaces, so they're going to mate flat and squeeze out any excess. And you want that excess to go toward what you're trying to seal out, which is your oil-- or, actually, seal in.

Then line up your bushing and lower the shifter down into place. And Steeda supplies four new attaching bolts. Go ahead and start those into place. All right. Go ahead and tighten down all four of your bolts, and they don't have to be super torqued, just tight.

Then after that, we're going to set our shifter stops. And what these shifter stops do is keep you from overextending your shift forward during aggressive shifting. To do that, slide the handle forward into the third gear and run your shifter stop bolt out until it touches the shifter handle. And you want to keep a little bit of pressure on the handle. That way, it's as far forward as it can go. And then whenever it comes into contact, back it off one complete flat.

Now Steeda calls for 10 1/1000ths of an inch air gap, and unless you're just really meticulous, you can pull out your feeler gauge and actually check that air gap. But typically, backing off one flat will give you ample air space. And the reason you don't want it touching is because it doesn't have to be in full contact during normal shifting. You just want it there to stop the shifter handle from going too far forward.

Now, once you get it set properly, you have a jam nut that you run up against the base of the shifter. And you want to grab you a couple of 1/2 inch wrenches, one to hold the stop bolt in place and the other to go ahead and tighten down the jam nut. OK, and then to do the other one, you want to pull it down into second gear and repeat.

Now you want to check, run it through every gear to make sure that there's no contact issues. All right, we're good to go. Now we can install the Steeda exclusive little washer that protects your lower shift boot. It slides down over the handle and, unlike other shifters on the market, like I said, you do not have to modify your lower shifter boot in any way, shape, or form.

Go ahead and slide it down into place. Engage the handle through the hole and slide the driver side portion of the trim ring up underneath the console. And go ahead and line everything up into place. Then you will grab your four bolts that you removed earlier and go ahead and run those down into place.

OK, once you get your lower shifter boot bolts tightened down, we can go ahead and put on the Tri-Ax handle. Now, Steeda supplies this little rubber gasket, and it's going to go in between the shifter handle and the shifter base. Now you've got two height adjustments. You can have a higher shifter placement or a lower handle placement. For this one, we're going to go a little bit higher.

Slide you two bolts that Steeda supplies through the handle. And these are also 1/2 inch, so you can use your 1/2 inch wrench or ratchet to go ahead and snug those down into place. OK, and once you get those two bolts snugged up, Steeda supplies two jam nuts to keep them from loosening. And you want to throw that on the opposite side and then snug both of those down. And that will keep your shifter handle bolts from coming loose. All right.

Now we can go ahead, plug our power point back in, slide the boot over the new handle, and snap our shifter bezel back into place. All right. Now we can go ahead and screw the shifter knob back on. All right.

Get it tightened down, check your operation there, and you're done. You just improved your shifting, you've saved your transmission, and, man, it's just kind of cool to have a shifter in a car and you don't have to feel all the slop from the stock rubber bushings. Now, for more drive train tips and other Mustang tech, check out latemodelrestoration.com.