Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Review and Installation: NST short shifter and bushing kits

NonStopTuning Drivetrain Parts for YarisI think the Yaris' stock shifter isn't too bad for its class. Yes, the throws are a bit long, and the gates aren't Ferrari like, but it does OK. However, install NonStopTuning's host of drivetrain products and prepare to be wowed. The combination of two shifter kits and two bushing kits make the Yaris' shifter feel like it was lifted from an expensive sports car, with each movement being crisp, short, and well defined. Shifts are accompanied by a satisfying solid sound, too. It's quite amazing what a few of these metal pieces can do to the car's character.

NonStopTuning, located in Houston, TX, manufactures a variety of high-performance parts for several vehicles including the Toyota Yaris. NST's Yaris parts include high-performance engine pulleys, short shift kits, and metal bushing kits to make the little Yaris perform better than stock.

I recently installed these NST's products on my 2007 Yaris liftback:
  • Short shift kit (Part No. NSTSSK09, installed in the engine bay)
  • Short shift kit (Part No. NSTSSK09-2, installed in the vehicle)
  • Shifter cage bushing kit (Part No. NSTSCK09)
  • Shifter cable bushing kit (Part No. NSTSBK09)

All of these products are very well made. NST says the components are made out of either 6061-T6 aluminum or stainless steel, and hard anodized. All needed retainers or fasteners are included. The parts are also designed and made in the U.S.A.

Below is a review of the NST products I installed. A link to the complete in-depth installation can be found above or at the bottom of the post.

Short Shift Kit 1 or 2

NST Short Shift KitI installed the short shifter kit, or SSK, first. This gets installed in the engine bay on top of the transmission case. It was definitely one of the more different looking "shifters" I'd seen. I was used to a short shifter being a metal rod that replaces the stock metal shifter and goes down to the shirt linkage, like the one on our Honda Civic.

Installation was a breeze--it didn't even require any tools to install it. Simply pull the cotter pin on the stock linkage, remove the washer, slide the NST SSK over the metal rod, and button everything back up. It took me about 10 minutes to install--no lie.

And how well did it work? This part alone made a big difference in shifter feel and throw. Things were less sloppy, throws were shorter, and the car felt like it should've from the factory. This is a great first mod for anyone with Yaris. It's easy to install, reasonably priced, and well built.

Shifter Cage Bushings

The next parts to get installed were NST's metal cage bushings. These parts replace the Yaris' stock rubber bushings, and are installed under the large plastic frame that holds the shifter in place. They're sandwiched between the cage and the vehicle's floor, and held down by four large bolts.

By replacing the stock rubber bushings with NST's metal bushings, you take out another degree of shifter slop, making for more precise, accurate shifts. The metal bushings are held in place using four snap rings, so you will want to invest a couple of dollars in a set of snap ring pliers (mine cost $2.50 at Harbor Freight).

These bushings are very easy to install, you just need to get to them. You'll have to remove the Yaris' center console (very easy), and then unbolt the shifter cage from the floor. (FYI, you could probably install these without removing the shifter cage from the car, but I decided to take the whole thing out since everything is easier to get at).

Remove the shift linkage and two wire harnesses that are attached to the shifter cage. Simply push the stock rubber bushings out with a screwdriver, and put the metal bushings, fasten them in pace with the snap rings, and you're done. And since the shifter cage is out, it's the perfect time to install NST's other short shifter kit.

Short Shift Kit 2 of 2Next was the second of NST's shifter kits. This kit will further shorten the throw and enhance shifter feel. This kit consists of a metal cap that attaches over the end of the stock shifter using two set screws. The flat metal piece on the left is a tool to help remove part of the original shifter.

Again--very easy to install, especially since I had already removed the shifter cage for the bushing installation.

Remove a plastic cup on the end of the stock shifter using the NST-supplied tool, and take that plastic part and install it over the NST shifter's metal ball end. Slide the new metal assembly over the Yaris' existing shift rod, and tighten down the two set screws. You're now ready to reinstall the entire shifter cage back into the car.

As promised, the installation of these products improved shifter feel and shortened shifter throw even more than just the SSK1. Everything felt tighter, shorter, and sportier. Finally, it's on to the shifter cable bushings.

Shifter Cable BushingsThe last part of the install was the shifter cable bushing kit. These two bushings replace the rubber units on the shift linkage found in the engine bay.

For these parts, I removed the Yaris' air box and battery for better access to the shift linkage. Once those parts were removed, I pushed out the stock rubber bushings, and installed the metal units, snap rings and all.

One thing to note: When you're reinstalling your linkage, it can be a bit tricky to get everything back together because the previous stock rubber bushings were flexible, allowing for a bit more give when trying to slide the bushings back over the locating posts on the transmission. The metal bushings obviously don't flex, so I had to a bit of difficulty putting reassembling the linkage. A little finesse with the linkage and the snap rings, and everything will go back together as intended.

Final ImpressionsNonStopTuning's host of Yaris drivetrain products really help improve the way the Yaris shifts. Everything feels more solid, more sporty. By just adding the first short shift kit, the car feels much better to shift. The ultimate, of course, is to add the entire host of NST dirvetrain products. This will reward drivers with excellent, race-car-like shifting. Honestly, these products are fantastic: well made, well designed, and worth the money. Highly recommended!


NonStopTuning said...

Many thanks for posting this! We certainly do appreciate the review.



Short Shifter said...

It was an amazing article. I learned a lot about the short shifter. I only a few, but after reading it, I think it broaden my knowledge.