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Can't get the van out of park /electrical issue

I have a 2007 Toyota Sienna LE. Sometimes after starting the car the ABS and tire pressure lights come on and I am not able to shift the car out of park. The dealer ordered a brake switch and in the meantime I would just push the override button on the gear shift to move it out of park. BUT, when I do that I loose most of the power (radio, clock, blinkers, power locks/windows/doors, wipers…but not power steering). The brake switch came in. They replaced that, told me the battery (which was installed in July 2010) was very dead and replaced that too. I drove home happy. Next day, ABS and tire pressure lights are on, car won’t shift out of park. I manually override it, loose power in said areas and go straight back to the dealer. They said the power was so silly (my word, not theirs) in the car they couldn’t plug it into their computer to do the systems check, so they traced wires by hand, took all the wires out of the “block” and reconnected them. Once everything was back together, car works fine. They said no wires were loose and they don’t know what was wrong or why it’s suddenly fixed. If anyone can help me it’s car talk! What is going on?!

If the car is working right, what help do you need?

This scenario is altogether too common, whether we’re dealing with auto repair, computer technology, or etc. There is a malfunction, the technician tries a number of remedies all together, and eureka! Problem is cleared. And he cannot pinpoint the original cause of the problem.

So one of the wires was loose or there was a dirty connection. Which one? Who cares. The problem may never return. Now what’s your question again?

Agreed. If the problem is fixed, why worry.

Cars today are basically rolling computers. Sometimes, the computers malfunction and unplugging and re-plugging connections fixes the problem.

Thank you. The main worry I guess was caused by the fact that they requested to keep the van. Today they tell me that one of the module computers may be shorting out so I need to replace that…even though they have not been able to duplicate the problem? Replace it or drive with my fingers crossed?

Reclaim your van, of course. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.

Suppose you authorize the repair and later the problem recurs. Then what? For now, drive it away and hope for the best.