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My ranger doesn't want to leave the driveway

Hey guys,

I have a 1997 Ford Ranger XLT, 4.0 L V-6, 5-speed automatic with 236,000 miles on it.

The truck lately seems to want to stay put - meaning that when I get in it to go somewhere, the shift lever does not want to disengage from ‘Park’ position. The truck until two years ago was driven almost exclusively on the highway for commuting, and the transmission was rebuilt/overhauled at 111,000 miles right after the warranty went out (in 2001). I am the original owner, so there is no past ‘unknown’ use on the tranny. Once the truck has warmed up (at least 5 min.), it will shift if I rock my bodyweight in the driver’s seat fore and aft. ANY HELP would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your help guys.

-Christopher in Stockton, Ca.

With that many miles on the vehicle, the problem might be caused from a worn out parking pawl within the transmission. If the problem only occurs on the first start of the day, why not put the transmission into neutral and set the parking brake when it sits?


Are you on an incline when the problem occurs?

Check the manual for a shift interlock override, after that make sure all switches and solenoids are operating properly.

No, it’s fairly level on my driveway, and as of 5:30 PST it will not shift out of park at all. My neighbor siad he thought it could be a switch in the steering wheel cowl, but haven’t tried to remove it yet to see.

my shop manual only refers to a neutral safety switch on the tranny itself, which is only supposed to allow it to be started in Park and Neutral.

The shift interlock is there to prevent you from shifting the car out of park without your foot on the brake. Check to make sure the brake lights work. The solenoid uses a signal from the brake switch, but if the brake light don’t work, the solenoid will not either. If the brake lights work, the solenoid may be sticking.
I’m guessing everything else is fine after it gets out of park, correct?

It was until late sunday afternoon. I was able to pump the brake and get it to shift out of park juat fine (press brake pedal, release and re-press pedal), but now it won’t shift out of park at all. Will let you know about the brake lights soon.

checked the brake lights (none are coming on at all). I replaced the brake switch (the one under the dashboard that is connected to the pedal) with no change, other then my battery died as well. Am charging the battery, but now need to figure out what’s up with the brakes. I replaced the right rear bulb (had scorch mark, but filaments were fine), which is how I discovered the battery was dead. Where is the shift interlock located, as my manual does not show it? Thanks to anyone who can help.

Check to see if the brake lights switch is getting power. It should be getting power even with the key out of the ignition. Then check the brake light fuse.

The bottom line is that you need to engage the brakes to shift the truck out of park. So by whatever means the truck senses that the brakes are engaged, be it the brake-light switch (last answer, which is probably right),or something else, that is your problem. The fact that the problem goes away when the truck is warm and you rock around a lot in the cab means it could be the brake-light switch and is definitely not a blown fuse (which never fixes itself).
See if your brake lights are not working when the cabin is cold. Good news is this is a very easy part to replace (it’s a little square plastic box with an internal spring and an external mechanical button behind your brake pedal). It’s cheap too. If the brake lights don’t come on in the cold, replace it and see if that helps.

He did replace the switch. See his reply on 09/03/2010 2:10:50 PM. He’s got a circuit problem.

After a quick look on the world wide wiver if ifnowmation the process seems to be to tun the car on shift to neutral, then start the car. Hope it works. Parking brake is recommended unless you have never used it, foot on the brake also, don’t want any calls from Dewey.