Subaru forester stuck in P and won't start

I recently bought an automatic 2003 Subaru Forester 2.5x. Great car but… There is an intermittent problem with the automatic shift stick. It locks “Parking” mode. When I put the key in and put my foot on the brake, The dash lights up, radio turns on everything is alight but the car won’t start. It locks “Parking” mode. I am forced to over ride the lock system by inserting a key into the slot on the right hand side of the stick, putting it into neutral then I can start the car. Its been to the garage three times and is scheduled for a forth visit. Because its an intermittent problem that never happens when they have it in the garage they are having a devil of a time sorting out the problem. Any suggestions I can pass on would be greatly welcomed. Many thanks for making car talk fun.

What is occuring is that your vehicle “thinks” it is in a drive gear…this disables starter function. Most likely there is an issue with the switches or sensor in your console near the shifter. On your dash…do you have a dislplay of P-N-D-3-2-L? If so…do the lights correctly represent which gear you are in? P when in park…etc?

Most often vehicles have a sensor or switch system located on the trans…sometimes in the trans…to tell the ecu which gear is selected. In your case the vehicles doesnt realize that it is in Park…it still thinks it is in Drive or Reverse or an diff position other than Park. However it does know when its in Neutral…so I think you may have sticky switch or dirty contact somewhere in the sensor system of the gear selector.

I would have to be there to see where they put the switch or sensors in this vehicle…it is either IN your trans…On top of y9our tranny where the shift mechanism is…or its under your console near the shifter… You can go to ANY of the SUBIE forums…they know those vehicles inside and out…and will probably tell you exactly whats up…But at this point it is prob a Subaru Specific solution…

my 2cents…Blackbird

Dear Honda BlackBird, Thanks a mill. I suspect you are right and will pass your email along to the mechanics. There are a number of Subaru owners complaining about this issue. FYI the on the dash… I do not get the P-N-D-3-2-L lighting up. I just tried starting the car and it was acting up again. One never knows when its going to act up. Again thanks.