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Can anybody explain this? I believe this is caused by my shift cable, but I may be wrong. It looks as though it's frayed or something, it looks like a lot of small wires where some aren't connected. It doesn't look right.

it's similar to the picture, but not as bad. Very similar though.

So at first when I noticed it was hard to shift, it was very difficult to get into first and reverse but that was it, now, I can't get into 1st, 3rd, 4th, or 5th with the car off or on (didn't try reverse) so the only gear i can get to engage is second when the car is off, once it goes in though, the shifter will only go forward and back but not left or right and it won't shift when pushed up. I can go in under the hood and bring it back to neutral but that's the only way.

Also, the shifter feels very loose. It will go all the way back to the edge of the shift boot, and then kinda pull back to where it's supposed to be when I engage it to second, and I assume 4th and reverse are the same but I can't get those in gear so I'm not sure. 1st, 3rd and 5th all feel like they don't go far enough forward. I may be imagining things on all that but it doesn't seem right.
 

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Back 2 Hackin
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that thing is effed up.

I would just replace that cable and see if there is any difference, but sounds like you will be pulling the tranny off in a bit.
 

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Replacing cables is much easier than swapping the tranny, I would do both at once, as if frayed and stretched you will have problems for sure.
 

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I'm willing to bet that your shifting problems had nothing to do with the transmission and everything to do with the bad cable(s). A shifter cable looking anything like that picture has almost always been bent or crimped at some point in it's life. When shifter cables get deformed they become more and more likely to bind up and cause problems like what you're describing
I wouldn't even bother with the transmission just yet. Get a new set of cables (you're going to need them anyway) put them in and see what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised.
 
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