97 FSuperduty (F450) automatic wont shift out of park while engine is running

The truck is the gasoline 460 engine and E4OD transmission with 100K miles. Runs great and pulls a heavy load.

When the truck is started, I cannot move the shifter from park to any gear. The shifter lever will not pull back. I think that there is something either the ignition switch or an electronic solenoid that prevents shifting the truck from park while it is not running.

So if I turn off the truck and leave the key in the run position, the shifter will release. While holding back on the shifter while in park, I restart the truck, I can then shift into any gear and the truck runs fine. Then if I stop and put the truck back into park, I must shut off the engine, hold back on the shifter, start the truck then shift into gear.

This just recently started happening.

Sounds to me like the internals of your ignition switch are getting tired… It is your movement of the key and the internal contacts that line up inside the electrical portion of your ignition switch that may be the issue.

You state that when you turn off the engine…and leave it in the run position…it works… But in order to do this the key in the ignition goes from the Off to run to start positions…then back to run…then you rotate it further to off…then back to run… What you are essentially doing is scouring the copper contacts inside the ignition switch by moving the key back n forth.

Replace the electrical part of your ignition switch and you should be fine.

A test you can do is to turn your key on and off and on and off…many times…this may clean the contacts sufficiently to allow it to suddenly work…if it does not…the contacts are probably just worn down too far… Who knows how many times that truck was asked to go from off to on and start…these switches DO wear out. At least you know that the shift lock solenoid is able to function so thats half the battle. They key movement you described is textbook worn or dirty ignition sw contacts being the problem.


Are the brake lights working? If not, then your brake light switch is bad. What you are doing to get it out of park is in your manual as to what to do when you can’t get it out of park.

Yes the brake lights work.

I think I will need to take a closer look at the wiring first. I did have some rat problems this winter causing havoc on my wiring.

Ratty wiring sheds a different focus on this issue.


At the shift interlock there should be 12 volts on the light green wire with brake pedal pressed. The black is ground and the white wire should have battery voltage with the key on. If you have all these at interlock but still no shift from park, then solenoid’s bad.

@“pete peters”

Is the solenoid in the column?

So we are ignoring the key position and the affect that it has on the function of the lock solenoid then ? Its extremely simple to test whether the solenoid is functional or not…

i will test it when i get home

@“Honda Blackbird”

I tried this last night and it did not solve my problem. I don’t drive this big old truck on a daily basis. It is pretty much just a farm truck to haul heavy loads like my tractor or several round bales of hay. I purchased it from a local city where it was used in the water department to haul around the backhoes. You are correct that this truck probably has had many short trips in its life and the ignition switch is likely worn out.

Also and update to the problem. I was wrong when I said that it would release in the run position. It will only release in the accessory position. It will not release in the run or off position.

Again…back to the internal switch contacts…this is what they do when they fail. When the ignition switch is supposed to provide power while in the run and start position…sometimes one of those scenarios doesnt wash… Such as having the ability to power that lock solenoid only in the acc position…when it is supposed to also be powered in the On or run position.

Again…very easy to test at the column…using voltmeter and or test light. Volt meter is safest


The interlock solenoid is in the column.
My guys are leaning towards that as the problem, or that circuit. ( wires, plugs )
Dorman 924-733
Ford F2DZ-3Z719-A

For the use you give this I would be disinclined to fix it. After all, you can always get it out of park and you can start it in neutral. If the parking brake works, I wouldn’t even put it in park again.
I remember when a lot of automatics didn’t have a park position.

You’re pushing on the brake pedal while you attempt to shift out of Park, right? On many vehicles that’s required. One time I was out in a remote section of the middle of the desert in southern California, driving a rental car with an automatic – I hardly ever drive automatic cars – and I learned this lesson. The hard way … lol .

@“oldtimer 11”

Parking brake does not work. It is one of those pesky transmission brake assemblies that is mounted on the tailshaft of the transmission. I have one in the shop to replace it but it has not made it far enough up my list of things to do. So leaving it in neutral is not an option for me. Plus I don’t think you can turn the key to the off position and remove the keys with it in neutral. I don’t use this for a lot of miles but it does get used a lot around the house.

Yes I depress the brake pedal when attempting to shift.

I had a $200 Plymouth Duster that did this and I cut the head off a key and kept it in the lock all the time. You couldn’t see the hey was in it and to start it you just turned the ears of the key slot.