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96 taurus wont shift out of Park

96 Taurus 3.0 liter OHV will not shift out of Park. I tried the workaround in the owners manual where you take the key out, re-insert it, turn it to the OFF position then start car in neutral, but shifter still will not come out of Park. Fuse #5 is fine, and all my brake lights work. Steering wheel is not locked. Any ideas? Thanks, Pop

Sounds like the safety interlock with the brake has failed. It’s stuck in the locked position even with the brake engaged.

Get the manual out. There’s a bypass latch or button somewhere you can press to allow it to come out of park. This is designed in so you can get it to someone who can replaced the interlock or whatever has failed.

The only bypass then owner’s manual talks about is the one I mentioned above where “you take the key out, re-insert it, turn it to the OFF position then start car in neutral”. It does not mention a mechanical bypass, and I was not able to find mention of a mechanical bypass switch or button in the facory service manual, either. Though that is quite a thick manual I might have missed it.

As noted, it may be the shift interlock system. The first thing to do is find out whether your brake lights are working or not. If the switch is bad or needs adjustment (some are adjustable) then the interlock mechanism won’t “know” that your foot is on the brake and won’t let you shift out of park.

Brake lights are working.

Yes, indeed - I missed the note about the brake lights. So the next thing is to find out if the wiring is intact to the shift interlock solenoid & if the signal is actually making it (or getting cut off - whichever its supposed to be).

If the shifter is on the column you’ll likely end up in the steering column. If its a center console then you’ll likely have to dig into that.