Help! 98 Chevy Monte Carlo Z34 which is stuck in Park

My nephew is a young student, and really needs his car for collage (yes another bright computer geek),and I live too far away to help out.

He has a 98 Chevy Monte Carlo Z34 6 cyl.(150K miles) which is stuck in Park (automatic trans), and over heats in 10 min or so. I’m wondering if there is a simple fix for this? He is awsome with computers but is new to road side repairs!

A simple fix for “this?” Which “this?”

The only thing that might be “simple” would be being stuck in park. This can happen if the brake switch goes bad. So tell him to find out if the brake lights are working. If not, a brake switch is not expensive and not too hard to change. If the brake switch is working then the problem is likely with the shift-interlock mechanism. If he wants to mess with that his best bet would be a $20 repair manual.

On the overheating, first you’ll want to clarify - if the car is stuck in park are you saying that it will overheat within 10 minutes just sitting at idle? Describe overheat. Does the temperature gauge go to the red? Does steam pour out from under the hood?

Either way the first thing to do is check the coolant level. The next thing to find out is whether or not the cooling is turning on. But it really should just go directly to a shop - a good, local, independent mechanic to evaluate the cooling system. This is true even if the coolant level is low & get refilled - coolant doesn’t disappear unless something is wrong.

Is he being told his computer “geekyness” will shield hime from car troubles? if he is this is wrong. Have him branch out a Bit and get involved with some mechanical devices.Truly sucessful people can move their talent around into different areas, If you had not made the omment about “computer geek” I would not have brought it up ,but you did.

Good advice from Cigroller. There may be a safety switch on the brake pedal. If the brake lights don’t work then check the fuse for the brake lights to make sure it is ok. If that is ok then check for power getting to the brake switch itself. Before buying any parts he should first verify what the trouble is. He should have at least a test light probe or a voltmeter to make power checks with. If he is going to keep this car for some time it would be wise to invest in a factory service manual for the vehicle. They are so much help when problems like this come up and can save him a lot in repair bills. Check Ebay for some good prices on them.

If the coolant level is ok then the thermostat is most likely stuck closed. Check the input and output radiator hoses and see how warm they feel after the overheating starts to occur. If they are both cold then the stat is most likely stuck closed and needs to be replaced. If the coolant is flowing ok then there may be a head gasket leak. It is the only thing I can think of that would cause the coolant to get that hot so quickly.

My bad, I did weave the two togather, the overheating is not related, I was fishing for a link for my Nephew.

The primary concern is the stuck in park and my Nephew reports “oh yeah, the brake light is always on (the one on the dash board) even thought the parking break isnt on”

Thanks for being helpful :slight_smile:

"Nephew reports “oh yeah, the brake light is always on…”

Ok - to clarify one thing. The brake light switch related to coming out of park has nothing to do with the red warning light on the dash board. The brake light switch is at the brake pedal itself. It sends power to the brake lights at the rear of the car when you step on the brake pedal. It is also what “tells” the shifter that the brake is pressed down and that it is safe to shift out of park.

And the next really more important thing - nephew has to just take this car to a mechanic, student budget or not. You cannot drive around with the brake light on. Please tell him before he tries to do anything else to check the level of the brake fluid. If it isn’t low, tell him to just have the car towed to a mechanic. The brake light does tell you that the parking brake is set - yes. But it also lights up if the brake fluid gets low.

Maybe I’m being dramatic - I don’t know. They’re only the brakes. But on top of that the car’s cooling system issue could be a very routine & simple one (like a thermostat) that can turn into a major one (like a blown head gasket & warped head).