1998 Toyota Corolla, Automatic - Shifter

Need help figuring out automatic shifter problem, the car only has 56k miles & it has problem (since 30k miles) shifting out of Park or stuck in Park, often I had to use the mechanical override to release it so I can put it in Neutral to start the engine. When placed in Drive, it kind of “floats,” does not have the normal confident in-the-gear feel & sometimes it slips out of Drive to Neutral with the slightest bump of the gear shifter when driving or when stopped. When I shift, it does not have a free easy movement, it feels like the cable is restricted by corrosion or dirt, but everything looked good & seem shielded. Took it to a shop & they suggested that I just drive it… I’ve since put over 20k miles & its getting worse at finding Neutral to start the car with. Any idea anyone… how to fix this shifter problem? Thanks.

Just been told there is corrosion in the Automatic Transmission Selector Cable & it would cost more to replace it than the value of the car, go figure…

Corrosion in a cable is worth more than the car? That sounds kind of crazy to me. Who gave you this diagnosis?

If I were you, I’d spend some time trying to fix the cable myself. If your option is to junk the car, you have zero to lose. Is it a floor or column shift? Floor shifts, IMO are far easier to work on, with a shorter cable and no engine/firewall interference.

If you can get at the top end, you’re halfway there. Pull it up, straight up, and use a funnel with a small opening. Get the funnel secured to the end of hte cable (use duct tape, electrical tape, whatever you need to to make it stay there, and seal against fluid). Disconnect the other end (at the transmission), and remove the dust boot if there is one…if there isn’t, that may be where the problem started. Put some sort of container under the end of th cable, and let it hang into it.

With the cable ppointed up, and your fluid device in place, start with WD-40, JB-80, silicon spray or whatever you like to start the loosening process. Spray a good amount in, and let it work for a while. Use your fingers and move the cable in and out. Spray more fluid in as required to ensure the cable end is sitting in a puddle. Eventually the cable will move freely. It can take a while, but there’s no harm in letting the fluid work its way through.

Once it’s moving freely, get a decent oil, and let it work its way through. I leave my cables overnight like this, letting the solvent drain and the oil work its way in. Put it back together, and drive until it gets messed up again.

I’m sure this would be cheaper than a different car.