Shifter Knobs: How Do You Choose the Right One?

Posted by on Monday, January 28th, 2013

You probably haven’t given much thought to what type of shifter handle to install on your car, or your customer’s. After all it’s only a small piece of the puzzle, right. Wrong! It’s one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. It’s the point where humans make contact with their shifter and take control of their transmissions. It’s where the gear head can express their individualism.

Let’s take a look at a few of the things you’ll want to consider:

custom knobs for transmission shifters


There are many different types of material to choose from.

There are plastic, aluminum, glass, rubber, steel, titanium, wood, epoxy and even shifter handles made from bone! Then there are the different types of finish on the shifter handles. Chrome plated, polished, anodized, painted, powder coated, stained, sand blasted and those left in a natural finish. So what’s the big deal about the finish and material of the shifter knob?

Plenty! Some of the finishes get extremely hot when installed in a car that sits in high temperatures. Live in Arizona? Try putting your hand on a shifter after the car has been sitting in 120 degree temperatures. The inside of the car is probably 150 + degrees! Any type of steel, chrome or aluminum will burn the heck out of your  hand. Same goes for extreme cold temperatures. Have you ever been to Alaska in the dead of winter? Sometimes you’ll be lucky if the temperature is a positive number instead of in the negatives. Remember the movie A Christmas Story? Do you recall when one of the kids got their tongue stuck to a cold light post? The same thing is going to happen with a sub-zero shifter knob.

Shifter handles are more than just a way to shift your transmission.

Some have switches built into them. You can get handles that have momentary switch in them that are perfect for things like nitrous oxide or aftermarket overdrive units. Others have on/off switches that can be used for almost any purpose, and some even come with decorative lighting. There are also shifter knobs that can be used as a thief deterrent and have built in locks.

Shifter knobs made from old guns


Let’s not forget to take a look at shifter handle comfort.

Some of them are padded with foam and leather, others can be custom designed and molded to fit your hand grip. You can even get handles that have heaters in them!

Some shifter knobs are designed to make a statement. You can get ones made from old pool balls, ones that look like a skeleton head and even ones designed to look like a king’s crown. Some of the most interesting shifter knobs can be found in cars that are owned by the rat rod crowd. Their main objective is to build a car that is unique and low cost, so almost anything goes. They have been known to use small pistons, gun handles and even animal bones.

Some knobs are engraved with the cars brand logo. Others are branded with a special car club logo. Some even make a political statement. Of course you also have the knobs that have a shift pattern engraved into them.

Shifter knobs with different messages

Source: Google

Shifters knobs come in a wide variety of ways to mount them.

Some have metric or English threads. Some come with adapters that allow them to be used on many different thread sizes, and some are mounted using a simple set screw. Others are simply press fitted on, and held in place with a clip.

So there you have it. You are now armed and ready to make the crucial decision of what shifter handle will connect you to your remanufactured transmission. Choosing something as simple as a shifter knob can end up seeming pretty complex, but when you put so much work into a vehicle that becomes such a consistent part of your life and the journey that is, it seems well worth the extra time and consideration.


A transmission will not last forever, regardless of how well you take care of it. If a decision has to be made to replace the transmission, I highly recommend you consider a re-manufactured transmission as your first choice. They differ from a rebuilt transmission in the fact that they are as good as a new transmission at a greatly reduced price and often include modifications and upgrades that make them much more durable. A re-manufactured transmission also comes with a much better warranty: three years compared to 90 days for a rebuilt transmission.

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