Gear shifter

We have an older model Chevy Malibu. Whenever the weather gets cool, or cold, we have to let the car warm up for about 15 minutes in order to push in the button on the shifter. Then we have to go to accessory in order to shift into neutral in order to start the car. Our local dealer’s mechanic tried to fix it, but no luck. Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks.

Older model could be anywhere from 1964 to 1998. How about being a little more specific like actual year.


How do you warm the car for 15 minutes and then shift to neutral and start the engine?

I’m lost on the sequence of events. Not being able to push in the button to shift from park is a common problem related to the shift interlock mechanism. It won’t let you shift unless the brake is down. If the brake light switch has a problem or the shift interlock solenoid/mechanism sticks then it will keep you from pushing that button. As a cold car thing I’m betting on the shift interlock mechanism rather than the brake switch. But this is not a hard thing to figure out so maybe just try another mechanic.

Where I get lost is “Then we have to go to accessory in order to shift into neutral in order to start the car” - I thought the car was warming up for 15 minutes? So why would you now have to turn it off (to the acc position) and move it to neutral to start it? Or are you just saying that that’s how you work around the problem?

that’s the way we work around the problem for now. I know it is weird, but we worked that out one time when we were stuck in a parking lot.

Ok - so first check your brake switch and make sure it is working. Then someone has to pull the shift console, check the interlock solenoid for voltage, and clean up the shift interlock mechanism. Its likely gummed up with years of whatever. When it gets cold the stuff is stiff & sticky & the solenoid can’t handle it. Pull it apart and blow it all out with something like electrical cleaner.

there’s been a problem with the wires breaking at the base of the shifter. Might apply, might not.

Thanks. I’ll be taking it back to the dealer with all suggestions>

This sounds like it needs to go back to the mechanic, but I will be sure to give him this idea. Thanks.