2005 Chevy Malibu no automatic transmission PRND illumination

I just got a used 2005 Chevy Malibu Classic. The automatic gear shift lever is between the seats.
On my 1st night drive, I noticed that there is no gear shift illumination, nor any indicator on the dash that tells you if you are in PRND.

I called the service manager, who just happens to be my daughter’s father in law, he said to bring it in–a light was probably out–and they’d fix it.

Took the car in. They looked at it and couldn’t find any light (on the gear shift pad) to replace! He then looked at it himself and couldn’t find one either. The conclusion is the 2005 Chevy Malibu has no gear shift illumination for night time driving.

I’ve never run into this on a “modern” car. If it is true, I am astounded. It seems to me to be a very poor design, maybe even a safety hazard. Why would they cut such a corner and not show what gear the car is in–leaving you in the dark, so to speak?

Can I get a definitive yes/no that this car does not have an illuminated automatic transmission gear indicator of any sort for night driving? Or is there something that may have been missed? The service manager was as surprised as me that it is this way.

Bob T

I too find that odd. I’d say that the only way for you to verify it is to take the console apart yourself. Then if you didn’t find one and are clever with electronics and it bothers you that much I’d bet you could figure out how to add one.

Or you could go with a strategy an old friend of mine used to use on a van he had. All of the instrument panel lights were out. Rather than fixing it he kept a miniflashlight on the shelf at the bottom of the panel.

You’d have to take a look at the factory service manual or body manual to see for sure what is in there, but my Riveras did not have a bulb. They used a type of flourescent strip for illumination. I had that same type of lighting device in the Opera lights of my 86 Park Avenue. When one went out, the price was about $250 for a replacement and this was in about 1990. I wired bulbs in them instead.

At any rate, a wiring chart needs to be looked at. The strip is mounted right under the console. I believe the circuit would also contain a small inverter that boosts the voltage. So the problem can be the strip itself, a loose connection, or the power supply for it.

thanks, I’ll give these a try. If it is a fluorescent strip–why would they do that instead of using bulbs–sheesh!

I can understand them trying things other than lights in an older car, but not in a 2005.

Bing, you mentioned it could be a loose wire or inverter, but since they found no bulbs in the compartment, I suppose that absence rules those things out? Which leaves me only with replacing the fluorescent strip (which wasn’t seen either) or installing lights.

However, there is a fuse box in the engine compartment. it has a fuse for the “Automatic Transaxle.” would that indicate there should be a light somewhere? Or is that fuse for something else?


According to the GM wiring diagram for your vehicle, there is a transaxle shift indicator lamp.


Well there you go. If there is supposed to be a bulb in there, they’ll just have to look a little harder for it. Maybe it came unclipped and fell down somewhere.

I have had my 2005 classic for 8 years and I know there is something illuminating it cause it just burn out this week

Jim Quil, I would assume that after 5 years the problem has been solved or the vehicle has been traded.

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After five years, I still agree with what I said even if I didn’t remember it. Pull the cover off and take a look but don’t be surprised at the cost/availability of the replacement. Junk yard time maybe.

There is a shift indicator, you shouldn’t be looking at the floor. I don’t see any reason to disassemble the floor console.

Ya know I do that stuff myself, labor of love, but it would not surprise me to have $250 labor to replace a 25 cent light bulb.