Near the beginning of the year (2001) I installed the UUC shortshifter into my car. The main reason for doing so was to reduce the length of the shifter throw between gear shifts. People on the AudiWorld forum had informed me that the UUC Shortshifter might also make the car shift smoother and give a more solid feel to the gear box.
I wanted to install a system that reduced the length of the shifter throws. The UUC Shortshifter received the best user reviews that I had heard about and was considered one of the best bang-for-the-buck modifications that you could do.
The only other option that was available when I was looking for a system was a short shifter from Neuspeed but it had not been purchased by many S4 owners so there was not much experience to draw upon. Since that time Tanoga has offered a system and a modification to the stock shifter is now possible.
- Neuspeed – Not enough systems in use.
- Tanoga – Not available at time of decision.
- Stock Modification – Not known about at time of decision.
I decided to go with UUC. The UUC system had the best reviews and widest usage of the systems available when I was looking to purchase a system.
The first thing that I learned upon doing the installation myself was that adjusting the SS is a difficult process, and key to the performance one may get out of the SS lies in proper adjustment. After a bit of fiddling with the SS position I found a setting that I was happy with.
I initially had the shifter set for a 30% reduction in throw. Transitioning from the stock length to this length produced a tangible increase in force required to move the shift lever. I decided that it felt like too much pressure was required so I adjusted the SS to the 20% setting. This felt nearly like the stock shifter.
After a couple of weeks I grew accustomed to the feel of the shifter, but disappointed with the length of the throw. It felt very comparable to the stock shifter. I then went back to the 30% setting. This time I quickly adjusted to the increase in force required to shift, and was very happy with the performance I was getting.
With the release of the Tanoga SS and glowing reviews of the smoothness of shifts using that system I began to contemplate an upgrade. I was hesitant because I never experienced the smoother, tighter shifting that others had reported. Since I believe people sometimes embellish the performance gains that aftermarket equipment gives to their cars, I feel in this case that the SS does not make the shifting smoother or firmer.
With that being the case, upgrading to a new SS did not make much sense. Another option was to modify the stock shift rod. A technique to do this had been brought up at the Audi forum and appealed to me because it would allow me to keep another part of the car stock, while improving the feel. I sold my UUC SS and performed the Stock shifter modification.
The modification was very easy. I used a hacksaw to cut 1-1/4″ off of the stock rod and then borrowed a tap & die set to rethread the rod. I put the shifter back into my car and discovered that the modification that had been offered overlooked one requirement. The leather boot that goes over the shift rod to cover it has a plastic insert to keep the top portion supported and in place. The plastic insert was sized for a normal shift rod. Now that mine was shorter when the shift knob was screwed on this plastic sleeve was pushed down the shift rod. The result was that I could not push the shift rod down to put the car into reverse. The solution was to take off of the plastic sleeve an amount equivalent to the amount I had taken off of the shift rod. With that done the components went together correctly.
THE STEPS ARE:
- Remove the stock shifter.
- Cut about 1″ of length off of the top.
- Rethread the rod using a 12mm x 1.5 mm Die.
- Put the shifter back into the car.
- Cut off the necessary amount of the shift boot plastic sleeve so that you can engage reverse gear.
Having done this modification and driving the car shortly after having done so with the UUC SS at 30% I can report the following impressions. First, I still don’t believe there is a difference in smoothness between the stock and aftermarket shifter. The aftermarket shifter might be a little firmer feeling, but it is so slight that unless I could check the feel of the stock shifter in one car, then hop directly into another with the UUC shifter, I can’t tell any difference.
The throw of the shifter is reduced and is at least comparable to that which I had at the 30% setting.
I remain pleased with the Stock shortshifter mod. I don’t feel like the S4 has ever been a super-smooth shifting car and I have contemplated trying aftermarket shortshifters again to see if any of them could improve the feel of the shifter. Based on my prior experience I am reluctant to jump in and try anything soon.