Shifter Button Stuck on Subaru

I don’t know the name of it, but the button on the side of the shifter keeps getting stuck (ie, doesn’t let me push it in to release the shifter). When I push it I hear a clicking noise in the dashboard behind the speedometer panel. I only notice it when starting the car, when I’m trying to put it into reverse. It never does it after I’ve been driving and want to shift into Park. It seems to be getting worse. Any idea what is causing it and how much it might cost to fix it?

1999 Subaru Legacy L, 4dr Sedan, 150K miles

Sounds like a problem with the brake/shift interlock. This is the system that requires you to step on the brake before shifting out of Park.

Sometimes this problem is caused by a faulty or misadjusted brake light switch. Make sure the brake lights are working when you step on the brake.

You might also check the owner’s manual to see if there’s an emergency override procedure in case the shifter just won’t budge.

I suspect your shift interlock is not releasing. It’s a pin that is moved out of the way by a solenoid when the brakes are pushed. The purpose is to prevent you from accidentally knocking the car into gear without your foot on the brake.

When you push on the brake peddle do your brake lights light up? If they do, I would suspect a wiring fault if it happens intermittent, of if all the time the solenoid itself. Also, look in the owners manual. There should be instructions for a fail-safe way to manually disengage the interlock (for the proverbial stuck on the train tracks scenario) with a screwdriver or the key.

Thank you for the suggestions. I think I’ve noticed a pattern (only tried it a couple times). If I reapply the parking brake and step on the brake pedal while releasing it, the button unsticks.

I called Subaru to ask what could be causing this problem. They said it was either a solenoid (in the shifter?) or faulty brake lights.

Did you verify that the brake lights are working? This is important, because you don’t want to be driving around without brake lights.