On my 99 ML the locking ring is made of dense black plastic. By using both hands and firmly grasping the locking ring you can 'unscrew' the ring by turning to the left (counter-clockwise, looking down). The ring drops down and then with a steady upward pull and a little wiggling the gearshift knob comes off. Installation is the reverse.
I should have said counter clockwise, but assumed that unless the truck was upside down that left is counter clockwise from any angle on the shifter stem as long as the tires were on the ground and not in the air.
You know...afaik...when you are discussung left/right/etc on a vehicle ..you are always to assume that it is relative to sitting in the drivers seat.
Sooooo, if you did roll the ML over and all four tires were up in the air and....if you were in the drivers seat and you STILL needed to remove the gearshift knob, you would STILL turn the locking ring counter-clockwise to remove.
Sorry for the redundancy..glad we cleared that up !!!
While we are on the subject of shift knobs, I replaced my wooden knob with a leather one. Removing the old one required a considerable amount of "upward thrust" after releasing the locking collect. (by "upward", I mean the car hadn't rolled over so the force was towards the roof but if it had rolled, the force would still be towards the roof but downwards.)
I digress. The point of my post is that, when installed, both knobs were a little loose on the rod. There is about 5 degrees of play either way. Is this common or do I have 2 dud knobs?
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