Locking gear shift Help

My 1998 Chevy malibu has about 149,800 automatic, 6cyl. Runs very good for age. Few drips and a bit louder than a few years ago. I need to keep it at least 1 more year hopefully 2. When the gear shift is in Park the button locks and it is very difficult to push in to get to the other gears. Once it is able to move the other gears reverse drive etc work fine and button never locks. It seems to happen worse when it is cold outside but sticks other times too. I have tried hitting it, juggling it and spraying wd40… it seems to work then, Please help what is wrong with my baby and how do i fix it? My mechanic said it just needs to be put all the way into park… I tried this too and it still sticks. My late father told me if you take care of cars oil and fix things when they break the car will last at least till 200.000 miles. I am trusting this??? Thank you for your help.

It could be the brake light switch or the solenoid that unlocks the lever but whichever it is if not taken care of it will eventually leave you stranded. The car might very well last 200,000 miles but it will probably need some attention in the next 50,000. Do you know a good shop?

Your mechanic is probably right, but its still not your fault, the linkage cable may have stretched and is now out of adjustment. Instead of telling to to push it harder into park, he should look at adjusting the linkage.

Thank you so much - I’ll pass these comments along to my mechanic.

If the button locks then Rod Knox is almost certainly right about that. Its the brake-shift interlock & is designed to keep you from shifting out of park without your foot on the brake. That’s why you check the brake switch. If its isn’t quite right, it won’t send the signal to let the button release. But the brake switch might be fine and the little solenoid that moves a blocking lever or pin out of the way might be sticking which is consistent with it being worse when cold. Its not a terribly difficult matter to take apart the center shift console, gain access to it and clean it up or replace it. My guess is its all sticky and caked with whatever kinds of things have been spilled over the last 15yrs & 150K miles.

In the meantime, there is probably a manual override someplace. Look for a little slot, hole, or maybe a tiny little trim cap that looks like it can be removed. Figure out how the manual override works and you won’t get stranded.

This is such a minor thing, it is no reason to worry in big terms about the car. Its one of those little things that you fix.