Gear shift won't turn unless - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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Old 06-23-2010
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Gear shift won't turn unless

Hey Folks,
This morning I hopped into my 4cyl 1997 Ford Ranger started it up and couldn't for the life of me pull the gear shift (which is on the steering column) out of park. I figured that it was because I usually park on a hill, so perhaps there was a lot of tension on it, so all it needed was more muscle. No Luck.

Then my analytical brain sprang into action. I turn the ignition, but not all the way to start up and voila! I could turn the gear shift to reverse, drive, etc... But I was still SOL because I needed to start the truck up...

Then my wtf mind sprang into action. I started it up and then pushed the ignition further (almost until you hear the starter scream) and at the same time pulled the gear shift down. Voila! I could turn the gear shift to drive and get going.

When I got to work the problem still exists..

I have two questions:
1) What could be wrong?
2) How to fix it?
3) Could it be signs of something else going wrong, so that if the fix too difficult/expensive I can live with it (call it a security lock, lol) without destroying my only means of transport?

Thanks for any help. This is a bummer.
Briz
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Old 06-23-2010
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I know on some Fords they had a sensor that would lock the vehicle in gear unless the brake pedal was pushed. Sometimes the sensor would go out and lock the car into gear (stranded my parents a few times on there mid 90's cougar they use to have). This could be the problem as the lock out mechanism probably needs juice to do its job. This would explain why when the key is off its ok and why when the starter solenoid is engaged it wouldn't have any juice either (like your radio cutting out when starting). This is clearly a guess but it does kind of sound like a similar situation.
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Old 06-23-2010
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There is a brake/shift interlock actuator near the forward/lower end of the steering column. This actuator is just a solenoid with some simple electronics that prevents shifting out of park with the ignition on unless the brake is depressed.

Here's how I would proceed on a 97 Ranger:
  • Check fuses 10 and 13 in the dash fuse panel.
  • Check the ground wire bolted down under the hood on the driver side inner fender about halfway back.
  • Make a quick check on the brake switch by verifying that the brake lights work when the pedal is depressed.
  • Inspect the wiring and connector to the interlock actuator (gray/yellow, light green and black wires).
  • If all else fails, try a new interlock actuator.
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Old 06-23-2010
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Thanks a lot for the replies. I will give your instructions a try and let you know!
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Old 06-23-2010
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I'm not sure if Rangers are like other Fords (more than likely, they are) but if your brake/shift interlock isn't working, NEITHER ARE YOUR BRAKE LIGHTS!!. Get it fixed ASAP.

This has happened to me too. Here's what you do if you can't shift out of park: turn your key to the Off position (between Lock and On) apply your brakes, shift to Neutral, then start the truck.
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Old 06-24-2010
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It was #13 fuse! I replaced it and all was good. Thanks a lot folks. I REALLY appreciate your guidance.
Keep on trucking!
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Old 08-25-2010
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same here it was a fuse problem
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Old 08-25-2010
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the OD switch shorts out and blows that fuse, it may blow it again
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