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Mercury Marquis - Have to Push Up on Shifter to allow Start

My Mercury Marquis is a 1984.

It is 3.8 L “baby” Marquis, with Automatic Transmission (C5?). Has the shifter lever on steering column.

Yesterday, I found it wouldn’t turn over - But, If I push upward on the Shift Lever, it does turn over, and then runs fine.

For about 2 years, there has been a progressive change in the display of what gear I am in.

That is, if I am really in Drive, the display will show me in Reverse.

In Neutral, it shows me in near park.

In Low, it shows around Drive.

So - I thought it was only a display issue. But now, i’m guessing that some lockout is being effected, that stops the car from being able to turn over, if it isn’t in “Park”…

I have had a progressive loss of power, and more slipping of the trans, and inc gas consumption, but thought that was an aging issue, and not related.

Thanks for any input


3.8 L, throttle body injected V-6 engine.

Someone should have a look at the shift linkage at the transmission. If the shift linkage loosens up, not only will the indicator show the incorrect position, but the park/neutral safety switch will fail to go to the proper position so the engine won’t start unless you move the shift lever.

If my memory serves me right, I believe that the shift linkage is loosened up at the transmission, the transmission is placed into the neutral position at the transmission, and while the shift lever is held in the neutral position the shift linkage is retightened.


As usual, Tester has given very good information. However, I do want to add another possibility. Bad motor mounts/bad transmission mounts can lead to incorrect readings on your shift quadrant, so when you or someone else is under there checking the shift linkage, be sure to take a look at those mounts also.

I had a ‘sister’ car to this, an LTD. I do not know where the neutral safety switch is located, and this is the unit that is mis-adjusted, but I do know the indicator is simply a spring-loaded needle with a thin pull string attached to the shift linkage at the steering wheel. If the neutral safety is also attached here, that would explain the problem.

I had a similar problem with my LTD, but found that I could fix the indicator by using a large ziptie to act as a clamp to re-attach the string holder. But, I didn’t have a problem with the neutral safety switch, so I have no idea where Ford put it. I do know it is not on the transmission, and the linkage between the steering column connection under the hood to the transmission has no electrical sensors or connections. So it must be under the dash. But, the linkage may be where the adjustment takes place, since it is adjustable. If you loose the adjustment in the linkage, place the lever in park, and from under the car, make sure the linkage at the tramsmission is in park, then tighten the linkage, that may work.

If you shift to neutral first, does it start all the time without having to fiddle with it?

I see that I never gave feedback on this old topic. It was the lock out on the car that caused the problem. Had that replaced and it worked fine.

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