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Dodge Dakota Transmission Defect and Park to Reverse Problem

I bought the truck from my father before he passed away. The Dakota truck is 2002 and automatic transmission. Subject discussion has happened about 6 times since I’ve owned the vehicle. Usuallly it takes me 2 to 5 minutes to get the truck out of park. Now it is taking me 2 days and no success-the temperature is anywhere from 25 to 45 deg F and the vehicle only has about 50,000 miles on it.

Is this a recall problem? Or is this something I can deal with using commonsense and brute froce?


Carolyna 1983 BMW320i “no problems” owner.

I suspect the parking pawl that locks the transmission when parked is bent and that is why you can’t shift.

Not using the parking brake consistently is normally the cause of this problem.

When the shift lever is put into PARK, the pawl (like a metal arm) engages with the tranny gear to keep the vehicle from moving.

When the PARKING BRAKE is not used, the vehicle rocks back and forth (or when on an incline, puts severe pressure on the pawl) and either bends or breaks the parking pawl.

To watch an example in real time go to your local shopping mall and watch people park their vehicles.

You can easily tell who doesn’t use the parking brake. The vehicle rocks back and forth or as the pawl starts to bend, rolls a bit.

This broken or bent parking pawl creates a dangerous situation when parking on an incline as the parking pawl can give way and the vehicle will roll away.

There’s a reason the parking brake is installed: to be used.

IMHO, a lot of drivers are ignorant of this fact when driving vehicles with automatic transmissions.

There ARE consequences, people.

Thank you very much!

Even though I use the parking brake, I am not consistent with its use. All my other vehicles are manuals.

You’re welcome.

I got into the habit of using the parking brake with my very first car (a 1960 VW Beetle) and never got out of the habit (45 years ago).

Some things used often and consistently become second nature where you do it without even stopping to think about it.

The columns on these trucks have a promblem with the parking pawl release.

There has been a recall for the 2001 and 2002 Dakotas for a roll away problem because the pawl was not engaging in the column when the key waa removed. So these pawls are jamming in both the open and closed position. You have to open the cover on the column and clean up the mechanicals on the right side of the column and lubricate the mechanism.

Many vehicles require the driver to press on the brake to release the shift lever. I don’t know if Dodge uses this system.