Remove the gear lever & Place the gear lever in a screw vice
Put something around the midsections of the shaft to protect it like a towel and put it in a vise|
Push a screwdriver or spanner under the lip of the knob and tap it to get the knob to release from the shaft
Remove the knob from its actuator by pressing the 3 small tabs with a small screwdriver
Install in reverse
NOTE: In the procedure above it is required to remove the gear lever but most people simply cut the knob of the shaft with a rotary tool and reinstall the new one
Thanks to Rick for contributing to this FAQ!
I just replaced the leather shift knob on my wife's '98 SET Conv. It wasn't glued on as some sites say, but pressed onto the shift lever. Pictures tell the story.
Since the knob had pretty much self-destructed by now, I was able to see the three tabs that hold the reverse lockout in place and release them.
Now for a tip - If you're not going to remove the shifter, to minimize the mess just get a plastic grocery bag (or Wal-Mart bag like I did) and punch the bottom of it over the knob. This drapes over the console and gives you something to get most of the debris, makes cleanup a little easier.
I was able to grip the knob with a pair of water-pump pliers (Channelocks) and give it a crush. It started to crack apart, but before that it became loose on the shaft, and that clued me in to the fact that it was pressed on, not glued. I didn't have to try too hard to pull it off.
First picture is of the knob off the shaft.
Second picture is of the shaft. The red is grease from the spring that returns the reverse lockout collar.
I drove the new one on by using a rubber mallet. Now a cautionary tip - I'm not sure that driving the new knob on with the shifter installed didn't actually disturb something, as fifth gear seems harder to find. It seems there is a lot of play allowing me to go too far to the right and miss fifth. Then again, contrary to most notes, this '98 has the old style shift linkage in it, which is known to wear out. I will be replacing that
soon, after a trip to the junkyard for a salvage part.
I can't argue against removing the shifter, and you might consider gripping the shift lever with a pair of visegrips to stabilize it. Just don't THINK of clamping those on too tight, this appears to be a hollow
To add to the info about the ignition switch not returning to run after starting, it is the switch module, not the key cylinder, that has the return spring. It is time-consuming to replace, but not excessively
complicated. All terminals and connectors were brittle on the '98 I did this to, so be gentler than I was.