At the bottom end of the shift lever where it joins the link
rod, the pivot crossbolt is not well sealed against dirt and
splashes, and commonly gets water, salt, etc. inside and rusts.
If the lever moves easily side to side but stiff forward and
back, this may be the problem. To fix, prop up at least one
side of the car and crawl under with a couple of 10mm wrenches
(IIRC), and remove the bolt. If it's stubborn, may also need
hammer, punch, etc. Clean the bolt and holes, replace the
nylon bushings if they are damaged, pack the hole with grease
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