This is a move of the shifter cup problem
Possible causes for the sloppy shift lever, in order of probability:
- Loose rear shift joint. (Item 20 in photo)
- Wear in the front shift cup. (Item 9 in photo)
- Worn bushings or missing clips at the base of the shift lever. (Items 10 & 12 in photo)
You should check and make sure that the rear shift couple is tight (both fasteners - one on each end). If the plastic bushings are worn or missing, you can buy new ones for less than $5 each from us. After you install new bushings, align the shift lever before you tighten the coupling.
The front cup is expensive ($75-80 from us), and a pain to install, but this should be a one-time job. It is unlikely that you will ever wear a new one out. You can check this one by holding the shift lever firmly at both top and bottom, and trying to move the entire lever fore and aft. If the entire lever will move fore and aft, the front ball cup is worn or missing.
You can check the shift lever bushings by pulling the boot up and looking. This isn't likely to be your problem, but is one of the last things to check if the first two aren't the problem.
Call Jeannie at 828.766.9280 if we can help you.
Most of the time with a badly worn or missing cup, the front shift rod gets popped up off the ball when the driver pushes down on the lever while shifting. If you know the trick, you can drive the car home. If you don't know how to get the transmission into third, you get to flat-bed it home or to a shop...
The trick is to hold the shift lever at the top and bottom, find the 2/3 slot side-to-side, and firmly push the entire shift lever forward. This gets you into third. Third is low enough to get the car rolling, and high enough to allow a reasonable speed. this will let you drive for a few miles without damaging the car. Much more convenient than a tow.
If you are far from home, you can get under the car and use a rope or strap to pop the cup back on, and to tie it so as to hold it on long enough to get home or to a shop.
The plastic cups are not actually the correct part, but they will work for quite a while. A complete new shift cup, while expensive, should last as long as you drive the car.
Having just replaced my ball cup bushing insert, I can see how it may fall out of the cup if the bushing is not fully seated into the cup. It does, in fact, snap into place, and it will take some effort the get it fully seated so that the outside edge is below the lip on the coupler.