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stuck in park

Old 11-27-2010, 08:47 PM
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Default stuck in park

I have a 94 mercury cougar that seemed to be happy and content until yesterday.I drove the car briefly in the morning and then returned to use it later that afternoon.It started w/o incident but for some reason it won't shift out of park.I've tried putting the steering wheel in the locked position and rocking the car but my shifter won't move out of park.Can someone offer advice to a car dummy?.

Last edited by stuckinpark; 11-28-2010 at 08:00 AM. Reason: add aditional info
Old 11-28-2010, 12:05 PM
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Solution #1;This fix didn't solve my problem but it did lead me to the source of my symtoms and seems worth checking before trying solution #2 listed below

03-20-2004, 09:07 AM
there's a trigger that senses when you press on the brake, and it'll release the shift lock, and apply your brake lights. not sure where exactly it's located, though.

Okay, found the problem. I moved the car out where I could work on it and got up under the dash on the driver's side. There are in fact two switches that control the brake lights and shifter lock. If you look under there, there are two switches that are operated when you depress the brake pedal. They are wired together into one harness, so I'm guessing one is for the brake lights and the other is for the little shift lock system.

Anyway, first I removed the switches (just twist them about 45 or 90 degrees and they come right out) and tested them with a [COLOR=blue !important][COLOR=blue !important]volt[/color][/color]/ohm meter. They worked fine and it was clear by their design that it would be rather difficult for them to "stick" in the "brake not depressed" position - the spring that works both plungers on the little switches is quite strong. So it wasn't either of the switches per se.

After confirming the switches were not sticking and nothing was wrong electrically or mechanically with them, I removed the wiring harness lead that ran to them - it's about 12 inches in length and runs between the two switches and the rest of the main wiring harness under there. There's a press in anchor point you have to remove which is a little tricky, but nothing too bad. With a little tugging, it came out no problem.

So I took the wiring harness and switches inside to look them over. At first, the wiring looked a little funny - there was some tape around it that looked like someone might have monkeyed around with it in the past - but after a closer look I could see this was just how the factory did things. They taped up some of the extra wire slack so it would not get caught on something under the dash. Anyway, after checking the wiring, it was clear there were no internal shorts in the wiring.

However, upon closer inspection, I was able to locate the source of the problem: inside the connector that attached to the lower switch there are two metal contact points. These are "springy" and allow the blades of the switch to slide into them and make a contact, thus continuing the electrical circuit. As it turned out, the contact part of the harness (where the little blade slips in) was stuck [sort of sprung] open so it wasn't making a good contact all the time. After taking a very small screw driver and bending those leads back, I was able to get it to where it made a much better contact. This fixed the problem and after replacing everything, the brake lights and shift lock system are now both working like they should again.

Nonetheless, since this is my girlfriend's car, I will probably replace that leg of the wiring harness just to make sure it's okay longer term. Even though I shined up the connectors and put some spring back into the contact leads, I think for whatever that little bit of wiring costs, it will be worth knowing she won't suddenly have a repeat of this problem miles away from home.

Anyway, if anyone else runs into this same situation, perhaps this run down will help. Additionally, the wiring harness section (that connects to the switches) mentioned here had the following part #'s printed on it:


I'm not sure which is the exact part # for the harness lead, but I assume the dealer will be able to figure it out :-)

Thanks for the help - the car is back on the road again! :-)


Thanks Ray.Ray knows more about these cars than you Cougar lovers and he doesn't even drive one himself.I came to this lame site seeking help,got none and in the end instead of this site helping me I helped it.I'm Wayne Brady bitches!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Solution #2

You need a brake switch. There is a solenoid that locks the car in park unless you press the brake and if that switch is bad you won't be able to take it out of park. The brake switch is above the brake pedal. If you have two switches there, one of them is for the cruise and the other is for the lights. The one with less wires coming from it are for the brake lights and that is the one you need to replace

Last edited by stuckinpark; 12-03-2010 at 05:47 AM. Reason: provvide more info
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