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Stuck in Park

My 2001 Escort has two intermittent issues which I think are related.

At times the car does not start when turning the key to start position there no clicking and engine does not turn over. but all other electric work. Battery and starter have been tested and both passed.

Second issue is some times when it starts the shift lever will not move out of the park position.

Does this car needs to have the break depressed before it will start and come out of park and could a safety switch be the cause?

Yes you are most likely dealing with safety switch issues.

There is, if not a neutral-safety switch there is something like it. If that switch is having a problem then the car won’t start. Depressing the brake will make no difference to this. But you can put the car in neutral and see if it starts from there.

For the car to come out of park the brake does have to be depressed. Presumably, the little button on the side of the shifter won’t push in? That’s either because the brake switch has a problem - or the shift interlock mechanism. The brake switch sends a signal to a little solenoid that moves a little blocking lever out of the way. If the brake switch isn’t sending the signal or if that solenoid isn’t getting the signal, is weak, or just gummed up and sticky then you won’t be able to push in the button. The first thing to do is to find out if your brake lights are working the next time it won’t shift out of park.