Car wil not come out of park- can coffee really cause this?

My car would not move out of park- it is an automatic, had it towed to the dealer, and now I’m told it is $1200 to replace the whole shift mechanism. They said that coffee shorted out the whole thing. I spilled coffee in the change compartment in the center console under the dash and cleaned it up right away. Is it really possible that it affected the gear mechanism??

Unless you need warranty or recall service you don’t need to take this to a dealer. There may be some things on the mini where it could be wiser to do this, but for most problems including this one and good independent shop can take care of the car.

There are several things that a spill down there can do that will keep you from shifting out of park. Most of it has to do with the shift interlock mechanism. The interlock is with your brake switch - there is probably a button you have to push in to move the gear shifter from park. That button won’t move unless it gets a signal from the brake switch that the brake is depressed. Its a safety thing.

The coffee can short out the little solenoid that makes this process work. It will also get old and sticky after a while and that will keep it from working well, especially when cold (ask me how I know). The question is, after spilling the coffee, do you want this factory perfect? If so, then you pay the dealer $1200 b/c that’s what they’ll do.

Or do you just want to be able to shift out of park? Its likely that this can be accomplished for a lot less. I.e. it seems that the dealer wants to replace everything involved. Another mechanic might only replace/repair on what actually needs to be replaced.

Several makes have the lock out mechanism built into the shift linkage in such a way that the entire linkage must be replaced if any part fails. I am not familiar with Minis but it sounds like it dos likewise. I have disabled the lockouts on a few automobiles. When the owners are given the option of less than $100 compared to $1000+ for an “as new” repair all have taken the cheap route. But Minis may not allow that ‘down and dirty’ option.