Why would a car not shift out of park?

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2008-09-01 23:13:53

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There is a brake pedal sensor that keeps you or your children from accidentally knocking the vehicle into gear. You have to press hard on the brakes to activate a switch. Once the switch is activated, current is sent to a solenoid that releases the shift lock. If either the shift lock or the switch is not working properly, you will not be able to get the vehicle out of park. Usually it's the brake pedal switch... check it for proper adjustment. On most cars you need to step on the brake and turn the key on. answer on some cars, like my Saturn sw2 the shift-lock is actually controlled by a solenoid switch that is NOT in the console, but forward underneath the engine/transmission area. If it's cold outside, the solenoid can seize and the car cannot be moved (!) Saturn, unlike Toyota, did not provide any override button to allow you to move it into gear, so you are stuck. Once the engine warms up, the shift usually will move again. To "fix" this I wanted the whole thing "off" so no matter what I can move the car. There's no easy way to override this, even if you find the lever, you cannot press it, only the solenoid can operate it. However, there are two cables attached to the shift lever, one of which connects to, and is controlled by the solenoid. This cable has no other use than to lock the lever when the key is off and/or the brake is not depressed. I didn't care about saving that function, so I disonnected that cable. How? I broke the thing off that it connects to. It's a nylon post, so now it is totally disabled. The car can be started in any position of the shift lever, and the lever cannot be frozen into "Park" anymore. The lock button on the handle still works, however, so it won't jump out of Park. This is the way most cars used to be, and all manual shift cars are, except they don't have "Park", you have to use the emergency brake. I like Park, and the lock button still works, so I am happy about all this. The feature is present on most modern cars, and it can mean a tow or other problem once the solenoid begins to stick. I would not advise everyone to do this, however, since someone may want to have the thing locked up so you must press the brake, and have the engine running in order to shift out of Park. To me, it's not worth the aggravation when it sticks, and all of them will so some degree some of the time. Solenoid has to have power to it in order to stay "open" so this is another drain. I am not sure if I'm in for any trouble later on, but I used to drive an automatic many years ago that had absolutely nothing to lock it into Park or to ensure you didn't start it up in gear. So I'm not spoiled by the interlocking system this car had (that failed). When I bought the car it was very warm weather. Now it's getting into Fall, so I guess they knew about this problem and probably thought it was their transmission going or something like that (?). Who knows, but the car had 87k miles, was 1998 sw2 in perfect like-new condition for $3,500, so I got a bargain so long as I could figure out the sticking in Park problem. To do this, you just remove the console by popping off two side panels in front, lifting a 2" long plastic cover in the console tray at back and then removing 4 screws. Lift the coin tray in front with a flat screwdriver under the lip. The console can be lifted up from the back and worked out of the way. There's a lightbulb holder that just slides out backwards from the coin tray. It illuminates the double tray, and you can replace the bulb easily by just removing the tray and sliding the bulb holder out away from the tray and lifting it out. The cable on the right, facing front, is lighter in weight than the one on the left which controls the transmission. I grabbed the base of the cable by the black plastic thingy it went into, and twisted with pliers until I broke it off. Seems rough, I know, but it leaves the car able to always shift into and out of Park as long as the button on the handle is pressed. The button still locks it into Park or out of Park so you can't push it into Park anytime on or off, unless you deliberately push the button. With ignition off, you can remove the key in any gear position, you don't have to be in Park to remove the key. The key can't be removed with the car running, of course, that is controlled entirely inside the ignition switch. Saturns are not bad, but they do assume you will bring it in and will be able to live with some limitations. This sticking in Park might have been a recall issue, but Saturn never mentioned it to me when I brought it in after buying it used for the 90k mile checkup. This cost me about $1000, but it was good to have them on it for the first checkup. Now a regular mechanic can probably fix it from here. For example, Saturn replaced a front engine mount that had squeezed flat. Ok, so not really a problem but could wind up making the car much noisier later on. New serpentine belt, flush fuel and injector systems, drain brakes and new fluids. Adds up fast, but these things all had good reasons to do and assured me nothing more serious was wrong. They should know. Saturn body repair is pretty easy. you find parts on the web for almost nothing and they mount with a couple of screws. It's polyester parts so they can tear but not dent. Side mirror=replacement costs about 40 bucks with 3 screws. You can't beat it in some I thought sure I'd need a muffler or at least a new tailpipe, but turns out Saturn made it all out of stainless steel so it never needs replacing ;)

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2008-09-01 23:13:53
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Q: Why would a car not shift out of park?
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