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Won't shift out of park when cold

(1998 Oldsmobile Aurora)
in Omaha, NE on February 22, 2009
When outside temperature is under 35 degrees, it won't shift out of park until car has run for a while-car does not really get warm-but it has to be running for a bit before it shifts-button won't go in
Displaying 2 answers & 2 comments
Popular Answer
on February 28, 2011
I know this reply is probably too late to help you, but may help someone else. Anyway, I just finished fixing this exact problem on my 98 Olds Aurora. The problem is actually in the solenoid that prevents the shifter from engaging. There is a shaft that connects (eventually) from the shifter button to the solenoid. My guess is that over time the shaft becomes magnetized and the combination of the electromagnet and shaft-magnet is way too strong and causes it to hold tight. And the cold temperature might be making the shaft-magnet stronger still.

Anyway, my solution was simple. I put a small loop of wire around that shaft so that when in the resting position the shaft end did not find the sweet spot. Now my shifter work perfectly!

To get to this area, you will need to take the shifter off. I did this by putting the car in gear (it doesn't have to be on and make sure you emergency brake on) so that the shifter is pointing up. There is a retaining clip on the side of the shifter that faces the engine. It comes out easily. Once removed, you can wiggle and pull up on the shifter. Take care, because there is a wire connected to the shifter. Remove the screws from the ashtray and the large utility bucket. The whole console panel has pressure fitting tabs, so you will need to get your hand under the console and pull up (takes a little wiggling, but should eventually pop out).

To put the wire loop on, I put the car in the last gear (for easiest access). You can put anything here, really, even a plastic wire that is cut (I may do that if the wire flattens out).

Hope this helps!
on May 20, 2013
Thank you for the info. We are having the same problem. Is there a diagram someplace that we can access?
on May 22, 2013
Hi there. Glad you found the info useful and hopefully you'll be able to repeat the steps I made. Here are some links to pics I took at the time while doing the repair. The fix itself continued to work just fine for the time I had the car (sadly the head gasket went recently and I had to buy a new one. :( ). I did find that using a piece of a curtain hook worked best. You basically need a piece of metal that you can flatten until you find the best thickness. Best of luck!
on February 24, 2009
It sounds like something is sticking in the shifter. The most common cause for sticking shifters is coffee or soda spilled on the shifter. It maybe necessary to remove the shifter and wash it under hot water to remove the stickey residue. Throughly dry the shifter before reinstalling.
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