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Problem with Transmission or Not?

I drive a 2000 Ford Focus w/140K miles. Automatic transmission. It’s been a reliable car. Yesterday after running several errands, I started the car and went to shift it into R and I couldn’t push in the button on the side of the shifter. And because of that I cannot move it into another gear. Foot brake applied as usual. Engine will start, steering wheel can move, I’m parked on a flat surface, no incline to speak of. I need to have the car towed, but I don’t know if I should tow it to a transmission shop or a general repair shop. Does anyone have an idea of what went wrong. Thanks.

More than likely, this is just a case of a shift linkage/cable that needs to be adjusted. The other possibility is the brake/transmission interlock.

Either one can be repaired easily by any competent mechanic, so I suggest that you save yourself the expense of a specialized transmission shop. Just be sure to avoid a chain operation, such as Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, etc.

This is unlikely to be a transmission problem. Something in the shift interlock mechanism has malfunctioned. Consult the owner’s manual. There may be a way to override the interlock so you can drive the car until you get it fixed.

That is a very good suggestion from mcparadise.

It is typical for an automatic transmission/floor shift car to have a release mechanism somewhere on the center console for situations where the brake/transmission interlock malfunctions.

Your Owner’s Manual should have this information, which will help you in the short term. This will probably still need to be repaired, but at least this release mechanism should enable you to drive the car to the mechanic.

When you press the brake pedal, do the brake lights light up??


thank you all for your responses and suggestions. I did consult the owners manual and found the release mechanism next to the gearshift. And no, the brake lights did not work. Turned out to be a blown fuse in the passenger compartment. Go figure.
Thanks again for all your help.