mercury outboard shift rod adjustment

Mercury Outboard Shift Rod Adjustment: Easy Ways


When you ask people about the most complicated thing on mercury outboard, they say that shift rod adjustment. They are right. When you are a new boat rider you don’t have much knowledge about these things.  

However, if you have an issue, you must address it as quickly as possible. So, what is the procedure for mercury outboard shift rod adjustment?  

You can change it in a variety of ways. You can, for example, reverse the shift. Then unlock the two nuts. After unlocking back off the top nut till two shaft rods are apart. You need to lock the two together and check the shift if it is ok. 

This was just a small gist. To know about the shift rod adjustment process in detail keep reading. 

How to Adjust Mercury Outboard Shift Rod?

So before we jump into the shift rod adjustment process let’s know a bit about the shift rod. 

  • The first thing you need to know is to shift rod length varies in mercury outboard. The length is dictated by the motor’s horsepower and type. So, if at all possible, investigate these issues in order to obtain a deeper grasp of them.

Now the main part. You need information about the shift rod. To make your hassle less, here is the chart of height.

Shift Rod Heights
20 in. Length 21¼ in. ± 1/32 in. (540 ± 0,8 mm)
22 ½ in. Length 23 ¾ in. ± 1/32 in. (616 ± 0,8 mm)
25 in. Length  26 ¼ in. ± 1/32 in. (667 ± 0,8 mm)

Measure the length of your outboard shift rod on a scale and compare it to the chart.

  • Always put the shift rod in neutral condition. It will make it more effective. The offset should be in the travel direction. Before proceeding, double-check that it is in neutral and that the offset is forward.
  • For the measuring, you can use a ruler. In that instance, a drill can be added to the ruler. Tape it up to the expected height of the ruler. But don’t forget one thing, the ruler and the gear selector should be in parallel positions.
  • While measuring, make sure it isn’t too low; if it is, it will give you problems during the reversing process. Make a note of the measurement. According to the illustration in the previous section, you should achieve a similar height.
  • Check for any issues with picking gears or the gears themselves. However, there should be no issues currently. Take note of the cords. The other controls should also be in fine working order. It should smoothly reverse if everything is in order.

How to Adjust Shift Linkage on An Outboard Motor?

If your boat is having shift issues, the gear shift cable may need to be adjusted. If you don’t know how a boat works, this can be challenging. Follow the procedures below to change the gear shift cables on your boat.

Step 1: Make sure the 6-foot length from the tip hole to the barrel is set correctly. Remove the forward shift cable from the sassy on the shift arm. Place the shifter in the forward position. 

Here you can know about the Mercury outboard neutral safety switch location

Step 2: Check that the metal spring-loaded piece can freely travel between the two stop positions. The switch roller remains in the middle of the valley on the metal arm’s end while it is in the center.

Step 3: You can shorten the cable by sliding the shift arm with the lower shift cable attached. Make sure the prop is rotated counterclockwise and facing the stop. The whole forward position is what it’s called.

Step 4: To fit between the studs, adjust the front cable. Remove any slack but avoid overtightening. Adjust the forward position by pushing the metal bar until it seems like it’s being forced into place.

Step 5: Remove the lower cable from the stud’s tip to adjust the reversal position. Reverse the order of events. Turn the prop CW to the stop position while pulling on the lower cable end.  Move the cable-mounted stud up or down to fit into the slot.

We have recommended some products that will help you to adjust the shift rod. 

Recommended Products 

Product 1
Product 2

Also, you can follow the outboard shifting problems for further steps.

Additional Suggestions

In this segment, we will know about the most common problem people face when shifting the adjustment rod. Also, we are gonna talk about easy solutions to these problems.

Sometimes boat owners hear a rattling sound on their Mercury outboard. Especially on mercury 100. When they are put into gear at idle 900-1000 rpm. The shifter is not fully engaging the gears until more throttle is given.

The first thing you should do if you find yourself in this circumstance is to see if it has been reversed prematurely. It should shift early into reverse if it’s late shifting into forward. 

The cable should have an adjustment at the shifter connection. A threaded section of the cable holds the piece that locks onto the actual shifter linkage. It allows for a minor adjustment.

Besides here we have provided a list of symptoms of a bad trigger outboard. 


Mercury Outboard Shift Cam Position 

The simplest method is to determine which way the shift shaft rotated. After shifting into forward and reverse, position your shift rod in neutral. The shift cam’s high side must now be in contact with the shift cam follower. The most crucial thing is to figure out which way the shaft rotates in order to engage forward and reverse motion. You’ll be able to modify your shift cam suitably once you know this.

Why Does The Outboard Shift Hard?

Hard outboard is the result of a stuck shift shaft, gear case issue, etc. As there could be many reasons for hardness on an outboard shift you need to examine the reason first. 

How Does a Boat Shifter Work?

The lever controls the transmission as well as the throttle. When the lever for one outboard is in the center position, the boat is out of gear. When you pull the lever forward, the boat goes into gear. It activates the gearbox, which transfers power from the outboard motor to the propellers.


Mercury outboard shift rod adjustment would be very easy for you if you follow the above-mentioned steps. 

In most cases, you can adjust the rod by reversing it. But if it is not working after reversing then check what’s wrong. You must act in accordance with this.

Best wishes!

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