RRO Shifter Sheet

Rocky Road Outfitters' Transfer Case Shifter Sheet

Nov. 01, 2005 By ORC STAFF

Poly shifter sheet and instruction sheetSuzuki Samurais were introduced to the United States in late 1985 as a 1986 model, and they have proven to be long-lasting vehicles. With most of them still on the road after 15 years and hundreds of thousands of miles, the few shortcomings have been discovered and are being addressed by the aftermarket. One of these weaknesses is a part that Suzuki refers to as the "sheet" in the transmission and transfer case's shift lever assemblies.

Over time, the rubber ring that locates the shift lever's ball begins to disintegrate from exposure to oil. As most Samurai owners are aware, the transmission's shift lever becomes increasingly loose, a result of a worn shifter sheet. Eventually, the sheet will degrade enough to allow the transmission or transfer case to become locked in gear or neutral. OEM replacement shifter sheets have always been available, but they are expensive to purchase from a dealership and will eventually require replacement again. Rocky Road Outfitters has addressed this problem with a simple, affordable solution.

Transfer case stuck in neutralRecently, the transfer case in one of my Samurais became locked in neutral as I shifted it from low-range to high-range. No amount of wiggling of the shift lever could get it to budge, so my Samurai was stuck; it couldn't move under its own power. Thankfully, I had just found out about Rocky Road's new bright orange polyurethane replacement sheet and promptly installed one into my transfer case.

Installation is a simple procedure that can be done with ordinary hand tools without removing the transfer case from the vehicle. A concise step-by-step instruction sheet is included. Before the new shifter sheet can be installed, the old one must be removed and the shift lever and hole must be thoroughly cleaned.

To access the shifter, unscrew the shift knob from the lever and lift the carpet out of the way. Unscrew the four screws of the shift boot retainer and slide them off the top of the shift lever and place out of the way.

Remove the knob and carpet Unscrew the boot retainer

Looking down the shift lever, you can see another small rubber boot where the lever enters the top of the transfer case. The metal boot retainer clip must be removed so that the boot can be slid up the lever and out of the way.

Boot and retainer clip Remove the boot and retainer clip

Inside the transfer case is a spring-loaded shift lever retention ring that holds the shift lever in the transfer case. To remove this, two long screwdrivers must be used to push the retainer down against its spring, and rotated ?-turn counterclockwise. This will allow the shift lever to be lifted out of the transfer case. Be careful not to allow any foreign material to fall into the exposed hole of the transfer case while the shifter is out.

Shift lever retension ring Remove the retension ring and shift lever

My shift lever was covered with pieces of the disintegrated sheet. It wasn't until I pried the old shifter sheet out of the transfer case with a screwdriver that I realized just what bad shape the sheet was in.

Shift lever Shift lever ball

The ball end of the shift lever and the transfer case's shifter hole must be thoroughly cleaned of any pieces of the old sheet before installation of the new sheet and the shift lever. Make sure that the new polyurethane sheet is installed with the concave side facing up.

Disintegrated shifter sheet particles in shifter hole Clean shifter hole

Slide the shift lever into place and reinstall the spring-loaded retainer. Check for proper operation of the shifter, and then reinstall the small boot, the large boot, the carpet, and the shifter knob.

New poly sheet installed correctly

The polyurethane shifter sheet should last the lifetime of the vehicle, so although it is an easy part to replace, this will be one repair that should never need to be done again. Shift operation is tight and controlled, and I haven't had the transfer case become stuck in neutral since replacement of the sheet.

Old versus New

Rocky Road Outfitters' price of just $15 is significantly less than many dealerships charge for the inferior OEM replacement sheets and installation is simple enough for even a beginner to accomplish. Make your old Samurai shift as well as it did back in the 1980s!

--Geoff Beasley

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