Fix shift lock before car goes on block

Click and Clack column
By: Tom and Ray Magliozzi
-A +A
Dear Tom and Ray, I have a 2000 Ford Escort ZX2 with 110,000 miles and an automatic transmission. It starts fine but I cannot get it out of park unless I stick a screwdriver in the shift lock override slot while turning the key. That’s a little bit of a hassle. It also makes the car kind of hard to sell. Since I’m getting ready to sell it, what will it cost me to fix this problem? ~ Bev Tom: Well, you could just stick the screwdriver in there and then hacksaw it off and paint over it, Bev. That’s what I’d do. Ray: And that’s why my brother has never successfully sold a car to anyone other than a junk man in the past three decades. I’d fix it correctly, Bev. This car still has a fair amount of resale value. Tom: The problem is the shift lock, which prevents you from taking the car out of park unless your foot is on the brake. It’s a safety device, designed to keep you from shifting into drive or reverse while stepping on the gas and inadvertently speeding over your garbage cans. Ray: Or the neighbor’s children. Tom: The shift lock has several components and the cost will depend on which component is broken. The way it works is that when you step on the brake, a switch energizes a solenoid, which pulls a pin and allows you to shift out of park. Ray: It could be as simple as a bad fuse. If that’s all it is, it’ll cost you a buck to fix. Or it could be the switch at the brake pedal. That’s probably about $50. Or if it’s the solenoid, you could be looking at a couple hundred bucks. Tom: But the number of potential buyers who will flee when they see you jamming a screwdriver into the console will cost you far more than that, Bev. So I’d get it fixed.