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Malibu 98 gearshift lever issue

We are seniors, and the button in gearshift lever housing is hard for me

to depress and impossible for my lady, meaning she can’t drive this vehicle any longer.

I can see that rotating the housing 90 degrees so the button points aft would help because we could then use the heel of the hand to depress the button.

Is this possible? If not, is there another fix available?

You know what’s impossible? Trying to open one of those cheeze stick wrappers without your glasses, and with thumbs that have caluses where you don’t know you’re touching something hot for thirty seconds. Now that’s impossible!

You might just need the inter-lock solenoid cleaned. When you step on the brake pedal, there’s a switch that engages an inter-lock solenoid at the shifter. Over time dust and debris can accumulate on this inter-lock solenoid where no matter how hard you depress the brake pedal the inter-lock solenoid won’t release.

Have someone remove the center console and clean the inter-lock solenoid with a plastic safe contact cleaner. This is a lot easier than trying to rotate the shift knob 90 degrees.


So if you press the brake hard would it be easier?

I do understand your problem.Changing the shift lever as you want could put you in danger and expose the shop to liability. In the event of a sudden stop a package, a passenger could fly forward pushing both the lock button and the lever and then moving the lever into reverse or park.

The fix is making sure the button and related parts work as designed.

Perhaps some help from a shop that works with cars for people with handicaps could perform a safe modification.

thanks for your info regarding inter-lock solenoid cleanout.
It feels like there’s a spring inside the button housing that resists pressure. Is this so, or is it exclusively stiffness in the mechanical linkage even after the brake is depressed? (It will take some time before I can get the solenoid cleaned, so I’m trying to understand the characteristics of the system.

Yes, there’s a spring behind the button. Have you tried lubricating the button? A little bit of silicone spray might make it easier to depress.

okay, thanks.