So my geriatric 2001 Forester, now with 201,000 miles on it, has developed an issue with the gearshift release button freezing up first thing in the morning. I squeeze the button to shift out of park and it doesn’t go in, and then it does and I don’t have a problem for the rest of the day. I’ve tried shaking the car to see if that helps, I can’t tell if it does or not.
My best theory is that the transmission is literally freezing overnight. I have to leave at 5AM for work and it’s been at or below freezing for several weeks (this morning it was about 18°), and I don’t remember this happening in summer or fall last year. I found that when I waited a couple minutes, the button worked. It’s also been about 40-50k miles since the transmission fluid was changed, although the color on the dipstick looked okay when I checked it a couple weeks ago (I was changing differential oil and checked the transmission dipstick while I was at it).
Also possibly related, the parking pawl (sp?) is clunking really loudly when it disengages if the car hasn’t been driven for several hours.