98 Malibu stuck in park

98 Malibu stuck in park

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PaulM

Georgetown, TX

#1 Mar 18, 2008
Just bought a '98 Malibu with 57K kiles on it. It starts right up but I can;t press the knob on the shifter in to get it out og park. Turn ignition off, wait ten minutes, start the car and shifter works. I know this sounds crazy but looking for some ideas of where to start trouble shooting this problem...
Thanks in advance..

“Treat each day as your last, ”

Since: Sep 07

Location hidden

#2 Mar 18, 2008
Paul, there's a brake activated solenoid that releases a small lock out on the console shifter itself, if the solenoid or the brake switch fails or gets weak it won't pull the small cable enough to release the shifter lock out.

I see usually that either the solenoid is weak or that you or someone spilled coffee/sugar or a soda on the console, that makes it too sticky for the action to take place, clean it if thats a suspicion.
PaulM

Georgetown, TX

#3 Mar 23, 2008
Thanks for the reply. GM really went out of their way making this hard to work on. This is the stange part, start car, won't shift, turn engine off but do not turn ignition swith off, wait exactly 10 minutes, start engine and shifter works fine. I'm thinking it's all connected to anti-theft or something like that. I think I will take it to a local mechanic to see what he thinks. Again, thanks for the reply.
Terri

Prattville, AL

#4 Jul 5, 2008
PaulM wrote:
Just bought a '98 Malibu with 57K kiles on it. It starts right up but I can;t press the knob on the shifter in to get it out og park. Turn ignition off, wait ten minutes, start the car and shifter works. I know this sounds crazy but looking for some ideas of where to start trouble shooting this problem...
Thanks in advance..
We have a 98 Malibu and have the same problem... can't press the knob on the shifter to get it out of park. Problem is worse in cold weather however also happens less frequently in warm. Warming the car up 5 minutes or so seems to help and pressing very hard on the brake while trying to move the lever finally gets it into gear. Even at a "normal" time the knob is hard to press in, sticks a little, then goes in. When its really a problem, it won't budge. If you haven't spilled anything on the console, what is the problem, or what do I ask a mechanic to check? The brake light switch? the brakelight switch? How do you determine which is the problem? Thanks for any help.
Terri

Prattville, AL

#5 Jul 5, 2008
Oops! I meant to say the brakelight switch? or the solenoid switch?
Terri

Prattville, AL

#6 Jul 5, 2008
We have a 98 Malibu and have the same problem... can't press the knob on the shifter to get it out of park. Problem is worse in cold weather however also happens less frequently in warm. Warming the car up 5 minutes or so seems to help and pressing very hard on the brake while trying to move the lever finally gets it into gear. Even at a "normal" time the knob is hard to press in, sticks a little, then goes in. When its really a problem, it won't budge. If you haven't spilled anything on the console, what is the problem, or what do I ask a mechanic to check? The brake light switch? the solenoid switch? How do you determine which is the problem? Thanks for any help.
Malibeast

Columbus, OH

#7 Nov 26, 2008
I had the same problem on a 97 Malibu and initially thought that someone had spilled a can of pop in the console. After removing the trim 3 times to clean and re-lub, there was no change, like other posters the problem was most pronounced when cold. After finally removing the shifter assembly I located a small electrical solenoid on the left side of the shifter. This solenoid is what inhibits the shifter from operating without pressing the brake and is what causes the stiff shifter problem. The issue is that over time the coil inside this part gets weak and doesn't like to release when cold. I simply removed it and have had no problems since. The shifter is still locked out when the key is removed and still requires use of the button on the shifter to operate so I see no "safety" concerns.
CAN

West Henrietta, NY

#8 Dec 11, 2008
I have a '98 Chevy Malibu that I recently took in for a driver's side headlight change. When they were done, they backed the car out of the garage, and parked it for me. When I went to leave, the knob on the shifter was totally locked. This is the first time this has ever occurred. The garage told me that they "lubed" something and that now it works but is sticky. I'm driving a rental, and not sure how comfortable I am with the answer that the mechanic has given me. I'm afraid that it's going to happen again, and that I'll get stranded. Any advice? Are there other things that they should check? Thanks..
CAN

West Henrietta, NY

#9 Dec 11, 2008
More.... to add to my prior comment. I did NOT spill anything on my console. So, I'm at a loss.

“Treat each day as your last, ”

Since: Sep 07

Location hidden

#10 Dec 12, 2008
You all talk about it being worse when cold, think about it, you're bones work so good cold? I'll bet that anything cold or freezing is slow, what do ya think?


These solenoids are asked to do a lot, after a while these things (as starters, alternators, home appliances, etc) get tired and need to be replaced.

Don't think too hard, it's really not that complex of a system.

Spilled pop?(clean it)

Electrical?(possible wiring, solenoid or brake switch)

Binding?(cable frayed, linkage or it just needs to be lubed.

Martin

Suitland, MD

#11 Dec 21, 2008
I have the same problem on a 97 Malibu. Works fine in the summer but can't press the shifter knob when it's cold.
Where can I get a diagram of the shifter assembly so I can see what to take apart to get to the solenoid?

“Treat each day as your last, ”

Since: Sep 07

Location hidden

#12 Dec 21, 2008
The process is fairly easy, the shifter knob has a slot on the front side (forward) in that slot there's a U shaped clip that needs to be pryed out with a screw driver or pointy object, Then the knob slides up. Pry the plate or cover up by working it evenly all the way around.

From there it's pretty obvious, you can see the solenoid and linkage that it moves when stepping on the brake pedal. Try stepping on the brake pedal and watch the solenoid, is it trying to pull the lock rod, help it by hand and see if it goes through it's full movement. If it doesn't try to move it could be the brake switch or the solenoid.

Good Luck
Ambur

Yucca, AZ

#13 Aug 7, 2009
I am having the same problem it only used to happen every once in a while.Now it is stuck in park and wont shift at all but usually after a lot of force it shifts and works fine.I would like a guess at the cost of repair.
97 Chevy Malibu automatic
Tim

Albuquerque, NM

#14 Aug 21, 2009
Ambur wrote:
I am having the same problem it only used to happen every once in a while.Now it is stuck in park and wont shift at all but usually after a lot of force it shifts and works fine.I would like a guess at the cost of repair.
97 Chevy Malibu automatic
Same here..I found the cost of a universal solenoid at Napa is no more than $30, how much would it be to install????
td in mt

Fishtail, MT

#15 Oct 23, 2009
this is for newer malibu's, but could be related to your poblems also.

#08-05-22-009: Intermittently Brake Lights (Stop Lamp) Do Not Function Correctly, Extended Travel to Shift Out of Park, Cruise Control Inoperative, DTC C0161/C0277 Set (Perform Repair as Outlined)-(Dec 4, 2008)

Subject: Intermittently Brake Lights (Stop Lamp) Do Not Function Correctly, Extended Travel to Shift Out of Park, Cruise Control Inoperative, DTCs C0161/C0277 Set (Perform Repair as Outlined)

Models: 2004-2007 Chevrolet Malibu, Malibu Maxx

2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic

2005-2009 Pontiac G6

2007-2009 Saturn AURA

----------

Condition
Some customers may comment that intermittently the brake lights do not function correctly. Other symptoms may include extended pedal travel required to shift out of PARK, cruise control does not function correctly, and DTC C0161 and/or C0277 may be set.

Cause
The most likely cause of this condition is high resistance due to terminal fretting corrosion in the body control module (BCM) C2 connector (specifically pins C2-18, C2-31 and C2-59).

Correction
DO NOT replace the BCM for this condition. Disconnecting the C2 connector, adding dielectric silicone grease and reconnecting the C2 connector per the procedure below will correct the high resistance condition due to terminal fretting corrosion.

Remove the right side front floor console side trim panel to access to the Body Control Module (BCM).
Locate the C2 connector on the BCM.
Unlatch the C2 connector and disconnect the C2 connector from the BCM.
Reconnect the C2 connector back on the BCM and re-latch.
Repeat Steps 3 and 4 (this step cleans up the terminal fretting corrosion).
Using the Tech 2, verify the brake pedal position sensor (BPPS) voltage is between:
0.88V - 2.11V (for 2004-2006 model years)

0.73V - 1.47V (for 2007-2009 model years)

Check for proper operation of the brake lights.
If the brakes lights are operating properly, remove the C2 connector again from the BCM and proceed to Step 8.

If the brake lights are not operating properly, proceed to Step 12.

Apply dielectric lubricant (clear gel) GM P/N 12377900 (In Canada, use P/N 10953529) on the BCM C2 pins (apply with a one-inch nylon bristle brush) on all the C2 connector pins (this will treat the pins against fretting corrosion).
Reconnect the C2 connector back on the BCM and re-latch.
Reinstall the right side front floor console side trim panel.
Using the Tech 2, check that the BPPS ratio is equal to BPPS learned home when the brake pedal is not depressed.
If they are equal, brake lamps should be operating correctly and no further steps are necessary.

If they are not equal, perform the Brake Pedal Position Sensor Calibration procedure in SI to complete the repair.

Check the brake lights for proper operation. If incorrect, refer to SI and perform normal diagnostics.
Source(s):
gm tech
Frustrated

Grand Rapids, MI

#16 Mar 4, 2010
I'm having the opposite problem. My shifter works all winter, but as soon as it gets above freezing it doesn't work. Any thoughts?
Wayne

Camden, NJ

#17 Dec 11, 2010
Wenis wrote:
The process is fairly easy, the shifter knob has a slot on the front side (forward) in that slot there's a U shaped clip that needs to be pryed out with a screw driver or pointy object, Then the knob slides up. Pry the plate or cover up by working it evenly all the way around.
From there it's pretty obvious, you can see the solenoid and linkage that it moves when stepping on the brake pedal. Try stepping on the brake pedal and watch the solenoid, is it trying to pull the lock rod, help it by hand and see if it goes through it's full movement. If it doesn't try to move it could be the brake switch or the solenoid.
Good Luck
Thanks, I toook off the console cover and the shifter cover (they all just clip on) and did some open heart surgery on the solenoid by actuating it back and forth and it became unstuct. I think it's only a temporary fix but it works for now!!!

“Treat each day as your last, ”

Since: Sep 07

Location hidden

#18 Dec 14, 2010
Shifter sorrows!

You go Wayne!

These solenoids actuate every time you step on the brake pedal, in turn this creates heat, which then causes the solenoid to become weak. This might explain why Frustrated is having the opposite problem, then again maybe not :)

Wayne, when you took it all apart, did you notice anything spilled onto the solenoid or the shifter itself? We see this all the time, sweet sticky pop or coffee will create this exact problem.
MLK2

New Lenox, IL

#19 Jan 23, 2011
Malibeast wrote:
I had the same problem on a 97 Malibu and initially thought that someone had spilled a can of pop in the console. After removing the trim 3 times to clean and re-lub, there was no change, like other posters the problem was most pronounced when cold. After finally removing the shifter assembly I located a small electrical solenoid on the left side of the shifter. This solenoid is what inhibits the shifter from operating without pressing the brake and is what causes the stiff shifter problem. The issue is that over time the coil inside this part gets weak and doesn't like to release when cold. I simply removed it and have had no problems since. The shifter is still locked out when the key is removed and still requires use of the button on the shifter to operate so I see no "safety" concerns.
I just did the same on our 98 Malibu. It was a bit hard to get the front console off, but once that solenoid came off, it was like a new car!! Just don't leave the key on too long like I did, the battery ran down on me!!! Thanks for the tip Malibeast!!

“Treat each day as your last, ”

Since: Sep 07

Location hidden

#20 Jan 23, 2011
Malibeast wrote:
The shifter is still locked out when the key is removed and still requires use of the button on the shifter to operate so I see no "safety" concerns.
Good job Beast, the reason it's installed is to keep short legged people (children) from shifting into gear and killing somebody, no big deal if you have no children playing in the car when it's running.

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