Automatic Shifter gets stuck in cold weather, Advice?

When the temperature drops well below freezing I have an awful time getting my car out of PARK. I push the button on the shifter and I simply cannot move the car into any other gear. Usually after 10 minutes of jiggling it seems to warm up enough to move, but the problem is becoming worse (it seems). It has an automatic transmission. I was wondering if I could squirt something like WD40 into the shifter (or any other recommended product)directly into the shifter to correct the problem. The car has 250,000 miles on it so putting a ton of money into getting it repaired is out of the question. Otherwise the car works beautifully. Besides-at least it will work by Spring! :wink:


How old is the transmission fluid? What condition is it.

My guess is the linkage needs adjusting, but frankly I don’t know much about Saturn’s transmissions. I would not let WD-40 anywhere near my car. that stuff is a "WD = Water Displacement) so unless you need to displace water, don’t use it.

Are you saying that the button on the shifter will not push in? Or that you push the button in, but then the shift lever won’t move?

Either way, I suppose, I’d be looking to pull the shift console. It is likely gunked up and cleaning it out may be all you need to do. And/or underneath the console is a shift interlock mechanism - pretty simple really but it prevents you from pushing in the shift button unless your foot is on the brake. This might be gunked up, or the electrical connection might be dirty. Sometimes there is a manual bypass provided for this - look for a little access hole in the shift console (it might have a trim plug over it). These are designed so that you can manually override the shift interlock by sticking a key or pen or something into them. I don’t know if your car would have one or not.

I don’t know if pulling the console sounds extreme, but it usually is not that difficult. A little patience and careful observation and someone of even little mechanical aptitude could do it.

If your parking brak works, park and start your car in neutral until spring.

The button will push in, but the shifter won’t move.

Hmmm. I’m not very mechanically inclined, but on the other hand I do have a car I can use in the meantime. I would bet that it is gunked up.

I very much appreciate the advice. I’ll see what I can do,

Sounds like a good plan in the meantime.

The transmission fluid isn’t all that old (I get regular service from Saturn).

Thanks for the advise; I’ll skip the WD-40.