Hey guys I thought you forgot about me... I used one of these straps and it worked like a charm. Fortunately, I didn't have any problems with my shifter, but after spraying it with silicone spray it is much smoother. I think it is a wise move for everyone to do this process for piece of mind and so that hopefully you won't get stranded.I used a strap wrench to get the knob off easily without marring or any damage. You can pick these up just about anywhere for very cheap.
I wonder how often you should lube the shifter, once a year, once a month?My Passion convertible w/4K miles is from the first boatload also. I checked with my service technician at Herb Chambers in Somerville, MA. He knew all about the problem. He uses spray lube.
I sprayed a shot of white lithium grease (which I usually use on door and trunk hinges and latches) up into the knob and rubbed a little on the nylon "T". Now my shifter works fine again.
The shifter isn't truly one-piece; it's the shaft collar and ball cover that is one piece, and the shifter handle is separate from that collar-ball unit. The collar-ball unit (even though it is a single unit) will rotate 1/8 turn, independent of the leather shifter handle, using any one of the methods described by others in this thread.Did anyone come up with an answer for Quagmire's question: how do we remove the one-piece shifter?