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Kartboy Short Shifter Install on 2008 Subaru Forester Sports XT

This was actually the first mod I did after I got the Forester. The Kartboy short shifter (along with an STI shift knob) was a gift from my brother-in-laws. I didn't do the shifter bushing upgrade, but the short shifter alone was definitely a nice upgrade.

A bit of background:

A short throw shifter modifies the geometry of the shifter so that the distance of the shift lever required to change gears is reduced. It does so by effectively moving the fulcrum of the lever closer to the shift knob. The marketing behind the short shifter emphasizes shorter shifting times resulting in faster lap times. I think these benefits are negligible to any normal driver. It's definitely a minor modification, but this thing that does change is the feel of the car. The shifts are shorter and 'crispier,' giving the car a much sportier feel.

Here's how to install one on a Subaru:

For starters, here's the stock shifter showing a little more than 4 inches of travel going from 3rd gear to 4th gear.

3rd gear (stock):

4th gear (stock):

In order to access the shifter, the first thing to do is to remove the shift knob. It's threaded, so simply unscrew it. Then, remove the plastic shifter trim. This is done by simply pulling up on it at a point closest to the rear of the car:

Unplug any accessories like the 12V lighter adapter and the aux audio input:

Next, remove the plastic fasteners that hold down the rubber shifter boot and remove the entire rubber surround as well.

Underneath the rubber boot is a metal trim piece. Remove this as well.

Then remove the shifter linkage bolt

Use a pair of retainer ring pliers to remove the retaining ring at the base of the shifter. Then pull up on the stock shifter to remove it. You may have to pull fairly hard.

Transfer all of the pieces from the stock shifter to the new shifter, using fresh grease, if desired. Note the difference between the stock shifter (left) and the Kartboy short shifter (right). The overall length of the shifters is roughly the same, but the fulcrum of the Kartboy shifter is much closer to the shift knob.

Install the new shifter paying attention to the direction (some short shifters are directional). Snap the retaining ring back in place and reattach the shifter linkage with the stock bolt. Reinstall the metal trim (if desired) and the rubber boot. I say the metal trim can be optional. In many cases, this trim piece must be modified by removing some material so that the shifter linkage doesn't make contact with the trim. I didn't see any useful function to this piece so I left it off entirely. The rubber boot is still secure without it.

Reinstall the shifter trim and the shift knob and that's it. The new throw from 3rd gear to 4th gear is just under 3 inches, for a 25%-30% reduction from stock.

3rd gear (short shifter):

4th gear (short shifter):

This install was relatively easy (the retaining ring pliers were key), and I'm very pleased with the result. I definitely recommend the upgrade for anyone who wants a sportier feel out of their manual transmission without much investment.

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