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Old 07-09-2011, 12:05 PM   #1
Steve330ci
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E46 Installation of Z4 3.0 Shift Lever (from inside the car) and Review

Having read several threads about short shifters, I decided to install the Z4 3.0 OEM gear shifter and ZHP shift knob in my ’03 325ci. I made a parts list and after shopping around, found the best pricing at Husker BMW in Nebraska:

Z4 3.0 Shift Lever, 25-11-7-543-193, $55.53
Plastic shift bearing, 25-11-1-469-397, $5.59
Securing clip, 25-11-7-571-899, $0.45
ZHP Shift Knob, 25-11-7-896-031, $55.64

Parts total is: $117.21

Shipping was $10 via FedEx from Nebraska to St. Louis.



Here is my stock 5-speed shifter in neutral:



The first things to do are pull off the shift knob and then release the side tabs to remove the shift boot cover.



Then, remove the two screws in the trim piece to raise it in order to disconnect the connections for the left and right side window controls.



Then, just pull out the foam insulation and then remove the rubber cover.



If you push the shift lever to the right, you can see the selector rod. Also, note the white plastic shift bearing has a tabbed piece on the left and right sides. The “tab” is not visible because it is under the lip of the indented portion in the round opening where the white plastic shift bearing sits.

There is a pin on the aft end of the selector rod that goes through the slot at the bottom of the shift lever. The shift lever is secured to the pin on the selector rod by the securing clip which sits in a groove in the end of the pin.



At this time, move the shift lever to the left. If you look into the opening from the right side, you should be able to see the bottom edge of the securing clip. Insert a long flat blade screw driver into the opening and pop off the securing clip. The clip will likely fall through onto the garage floor.

After the securing clip is removed, use the screw driver to push the selector rod to the left. The pin on the selector rod will slide out of the shift lever. The selector rod will drop down and lay on top of the drive shaft.

At this time, use a small flat blade screw driver and rotate the white plastic shift bearing so that the small white tabs on top of the shift bearing are at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock. Then, use the small screw driver and the larger screw driver to twist, worm and cajole the shift bearing out of the opening. This part is the most time consuming. Don’t worry about breaking off any pieces, because you have a new one to replace it.

Once it is removed, just pull the shift lever up and remove the old white bearing from the shift lever.

Here is a comparison of the old and new white pieces:



Here is a comparison of the stock and Z4 3.0 shift levers:



Now, lube the pivot ball on the Z4 shift lever and press the new white shift bearing on the pivot ball on the shift lever. Lube the outside of the new white shift bearing.

The tricky part is to reconnect the selector rod to the Z4 shift lever. To do this without having to jack-up the car, you need to use needle nose pliers to reach down and raise-up the selector rod. Then, slide a piece of twine or string (I used a Croakie sunglass strap because it was handy) under the selector rod to hold it up.

Then, while holding the selector rod up with the string, twine or Croakie in your left hand, carefully place the Z4 shift lever into the opening but only far enough so that the pin on the selector rod can slide into the bottom of the Z4 shift lever. Then, using the pinky on your left hand, push the selector rod to the right so that the pin slides all the way through the Z4 shift lever.

Now, using needle nose pliers in your right hand, carefully place the new securing clip into the groove at the end of the pin. Be sure the securing clip is oriented so that the flat side is to the left. I was able to engage it enough so that I was able to let go with the needle nose pliers. Then, using a finger, press down on top of the securing clip until it engages into the groove. Also, use the flat blade screwdriver to press down on top of the securing clip to ensure it is fully in place in the groove.

The, pull one end of the Croakie, etc., until it just slides out.



Now, insert the new white shift bearing into the opening so that the tabbed areas on the left and right sides are situated at the indented areas in the round opening. Press the white shift bearing firmly into the round opening. Use the small flat blade screwdriver to press the two tabbed portions down so that they will click into place under the lip in the opening.



Then re-install the rubber cover.



Then re-install the foam insulation, reconnect the window controls, and re-install the trim piece.

Here is a comparison of the ZHP and stock shift knobs.



Push the ZHP shift knob onto the Z4 shift lever. Here is a photo of the Z4 shift lever and ZHP shift knob in neutral:



Review
The Z4 3.0 shift lever works flawlessly without any need to bend it. The shifts are much crisper, more notchy, and do require more effort. Also, the amount of time necessary to shift from one gear to another is reduced significantly. The distance the shift lever actually moves from front-to-back is significantly reduced. Finally, there is almost no side-to-side movement of the shift lever while it is engaged or in neutral.

All in all, this is a relatively easy install, and I strongly recommend the Z4 3.0 shift lever in an E46.
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Old 07-09-2011, 12:13 PM   #2
3bananas
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I've read a bunch of write ups on this before, and this one looks the clearest. Sub'd for later
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Old 07-09-2011, 12:19 PM   #3
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Yea great write up, whenever I diy I always forget to take pictures smh
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Old 01-12-2012, 03:52 PM   #4
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does anyone know if the in-car install is applicable to xi e46 as well?
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Old 01-12-2012, 04:06 PM   #5
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hey is it possible to just buy a short shift zhp knob and fit it on the stock shifter? Would it be to short to fit it on? i might consider buying all 4 things you got but for the mean time i would just leave it stock with only a zhp knob on it (if possible)... noob here
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Old 01-12-2012, 04:39 PM   #6
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Yes you can buy just the ZHP knob and it does lower it by an inch or so by replacing the stock gooseneck shifter
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Old 01-12-2012, 04:43 PM   #7
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i'm gonna be using this.
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Old 01-12-2012, 04:56 PM   #8
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nice writeup!
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Old 01-12-2012, 04:59 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Steve330ci View Post

Did you have some trouble getting it out? I hate those things, they're only good for challenging you to see how many expletives you can string together at once.

I'm impressed you did it from above! There is no way I would even attempt it without getting under the car. You're supposed to use some of those yellow bushings to take up slop, too...I'm doubting you did that from above.
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Old 01-13-2012, 09:58 PM   #10
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Alright,

Just did this.


FOR MY CASE:

- It was easier to pull out the whole bearing and lever out in one thing. Then when it came out, I slid the bearing out.
- The clip was MUCH easier to put in WITHOUT the lever/bearing being already set in place.

I did this with the BMW SSK though.
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Old 01-14-2012, 11:40 PM   #11
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hi, i did this install too. exactly the same, just with a regular knob instead of the zhp. i found it challenging to do it from inside the car, but not impossible. its MUCH easier to do it if you can access from below. so some notes when installing: the bearing doesnt have to be in 120clock 6oclock position. a small enough screw driver on each side will pry it out.

but also people who have done this already: does your shifter sit exactly in the middle when in neutral? mine seems to sit a bit forward.

-Daniel
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Old 01-15-2012, 09:44 AM   #12
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Well done write up.
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:07 PM   #13
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Did this exact setup today with no problems - what a huge difference!

I'm still using the stock knob. Thinking of getting the ZHP, but I feel like the knob already sits so low with the Z4 shifter. Anyone think the ZHP will be too low?
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Old 01-26-2012, 09:12 PM   #14
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I just did this and now my shifter is hitting the trim in all up gears. What should I do?
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Old 01-28-2012, 09:35 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Jay146992 View Post
I just did this and now my shifter is hitting the trim in all up gears. What should I do?
Is yours a 6-speed?

OP, did you put the yellow spacers back in?
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Old 01-29-2012, 02:54 AM   #16
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Is yours a 6-speed?

OP, did you put the yellow spacers back in?
No it's a 5spd. I would like to know why I'm having this problem when it works fine for everyone else. It's really annoying because when I shift up my fingers get smashed between the shifter and trim.
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Old 01-29-2012, 04:19 AM   #17
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No it's a 5spd. I would like to know why I'm having this problem when it works fine for everyone else. It's really annoying because when I shift up my fingers get smashed between the shifter and trim.
You installed it wrong. You put it backwards.
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Old 01-29-2012, 09:01 AM   #18
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No it's a 5spd. I would like to know why I'm having this problem when it works fine for everyone else. It's really annoying because when I shift up my fingers get smashed between the shifter and trim.
What shifter did you get?
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Old 01-29-2012, 09:34 AM   #19
Jay146992
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What shifter did you get?
Z4 3.0, the same part number listed. I got it from BMW.
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Old 01-29-2012, 10:43 AM   #20
Jay146992
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You installed it wrong. You put it backwards.
Since its straight, how would installing it backwards make a difference? Maybe I'm missing something.
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