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Automatic Transmission Gear Selector Lever Assembly (ESM) Removal
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Automatic Transmission Gear Selector Lever Assembly (ESM) Removal

Tom Morr

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$527 to $779

Talent:

**

Tools:

Allen/hex bits, Phillips and flatblade screwdrivers

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz R170 (1998-04)

Parts Required:

Replacement shift lever assembly

Hot Tip:

The shift rod is easier to disconnect at the forward lever

Performance Gain:

Transmission can be shifted properly between gears

Complementary Modification:

Replace gear selector lever bushings

In the Mercedes-Benz 722 automatic transmission, the shift lever assembly interfaces with the ignition lock, the PCM and the brake switch. So, troubleshooting shifting problems can involve multiple systems.

Should the shifter assembly (also known as the ESM: Electronic Selector Lever Module) be found faulty, the average SLK owner can replace it at home. The module is expensive, but paying for labor normally isn't necessary. (In some cases, the M-B STAR software is necessary to "marry" a new ESM to the PCM.)

The shifter module itself is attached to the car with four Allen-headed cap bolts. Two screws hold the center console to the shifter, and a lock clip must be pulled off the shift linkage rod, using a flatblade screwdriver. Mandatory preliminary steps involve removing the rear console and shifter cover. Please refer to these articles for specifics.

For normal-sized people to disconnect the shift linkage, the car needs to be raised and secured on jack stands. Refer to our article on safely raising and securing your vehicle on jack stands. Whenever you work under your car wear safety glasses.

The front end of the shift rod: at the range selector lever: is easier to reach and disconnect than the actual shifter end. (Please refer to the Gear Selector Bushing article for details.) This leaves the rod attached to the shifter, but it will come through the floorboard hole unencumbered once the shifter assembly is free. Further, replacing the rubber linkage bushing on the intermediate lever is easier with the shifter assembly and rod out of the car.

Installation reverses the disassembly steps. If the rod is attached to the shifter, make sure that it goes in above the transmission cross member before bolting down the shifter assembly.

The shift rod needs to be disconnected underneath the car.
Figure 1

The shift rod needs to be disconnected underneath the car. The rear end makes more sense, since it physically attaches to the shifter. However, the front end: at the range selector lever -- is easier to reach. Either way, pull the lock clip (red arrow) with a screwdriver and then push the rod (yellow arrow) out of the lever.

The rear console and shifter cover plate must be removed.
Figure 2

The rear console and shifter cover plate must be removed. (Please refer to those articles for details.) The shifter assembly attaches to the center console with two screws (green arrows) and to the floor with four Allen-headed bolts (yellow arrows).

Once the fasteners are removed, the shifter assembly can be carefully angled out from underneath the console's rails.
Figure 3

Once the fasteners are removed, the shifter assembly can be carefully angled out from underneath the console's rails. Removing the shift knob isn't necessarily necessary.

Plugs (arrows) for wires to the PCM, brake switch and ignition need to be disconnected from the shifter module.
Figure 4

Plugs (arrows) for wires to the PCM, brake switch and ignition need to be disconnected from the shifter module. Mark with masking tape which wire goes where to make installation easier. Then the shifter can be removed from the car.

This view shows the rear-facing side of the module without the wires connected.
Figure 5

This view shows the rear-facing side of the module without the wires connected.

New shifter assemblies include a new intermediate lever bushing (arrow).
Figure 6

New shifter assemblies include a new intermediate lever bushing (arrow). SLK owners who source a used assembly should consider installing a new bushing while the unit is out of the car.

Logic suggests that disconnecting the shift linkage at the intermediate lever (arrow) makes the most sense.
Figure 7

Logic suggests that disconnecting the shift linkage at the intermediate lever (arrow) makes the most sense. However, I found it easier to pull the front lock clip and remove the shifter assembly with the rod still attached.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Dave Comments: I need the part that connects the range selector lever to the trans. Hopefully the pictures help. I have more pictures if you need. I know the shift rod is connected to the selector lever by bushing and clip, but can't find anything on how selector lever is connected to the trans. Thanks for your help.
November 20, 2016
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