Toyota Camry 1997 LE, no crank, no start - gear box messed up


My car is Toyota Camry 1997 LE, 2.2L, 4 Cyl and have about 201K mileage. I did not drive the car for last 2-3 weeks. Yesterday, I last drove it in our parking lot. When I took it to parking position, I was not able to take the gear to P. It was stuck. After trying a few times I could take it to P. But in Dashboard it was showing L.

I tried to restart the car and change the gear to N or D and Park again. Every time, Gear was one but Dashboard displaying another, mostly L.
After that I thought to restart the battery. I did not have the right ranch. So, I could not unscrew it or restart it. I noticed that the is not starting anymore. Ignition was responding up to On and displaying lights on dashboard. There was a “tick tick” sound coming somewhere from front. Not sure, if it is from engine/battery/starter or where exactly from. However, turning the key to Start was not working at all. Eventually, it completely stopped working. Even when I put the key on or take it to On/Acc, no lights on dashboard or sometimes it is on very lightly. Car headlight is not turning on too.

I called AAA and they tried jump start. Jump Start helps to work the battery on and when I take ignition to On, dashboard lights get on.However, start is not working at all ! After they disconnect the jump starter, nothing is working. But if I put the key in, there is still that “tick tick” sound.

Can you please tell, what could be the issue in my car? What needs to be done ?

Thank you

Sounds like the gear shift cable was binding and broke, now the battery is completely discharged.

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I’m surprised AAA tried to jump the battery given your description. In order for the starter motor to be activated by the key being turned to start, it has to see that the car is actually in neutral or park. It seems to me that something is disconnected or out of adjustment from your gear shift lever to the transmission so that it is not actually in a gear that will activate the starter. So something came loose or fell off. You’re going to have to call AAA back and have them tow the car to a shop to have it looked at. Just in my humble opinion.

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Thanks buddy. Any idea, how expensive it could be to repair ? Also, is this any time sensitive issue ? I mean will it be any difference, if I keep the car to mechanic now vs I take it after 1 month ?

Thanks Bing. Any idea, how much it may cost to repair ? Also, is this any time sensitive issue ? I mean will it be any difference, if I keep the car to mechanic now vs I take it after 1 month ?

Sounds like the Safety Neutral Switch/Range Sensor switch is bad.

I think if the cable was bad you wouldn’t be able to physically get the car into park.

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It’s not going to get any worse with age but just call a shop and as “Its Me” said, as about what the charge would be for a new park/neutral switch.

It needs to be properly diagnosed first. No one can tell you the cost until the problem is diagnosed. As far as leaving it for a month or more to have it towed and repaired makes me wonder if you really need the car at all. Maybe time to sell or junk it.

So, is it Safety Neutral Switch/Range Sensor switch that needs to be replaced you think ? or gear shift cable that needs to be replaced ?

It does nor crank at all. I assumed, it wold crank if it was Neutral Switch/Range Sensor switch. But I am not 100% sure.

I’m leaning cable. If the cable breaks you can put the shifter in park, but the transmission won’t actually go into park. If I’m reading OP’s OP correctly, that’s what’s happening here. The reason the car isn’t starting is because it inhibits the starter when it’s in gear.

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So, you think that gear shift cable that needs to be replaced ?

if the ECM doesn’t know it is in park or neutral, the starter will not engage. Turning the key will illuminate the dash lights and such, but trying to start it will do nothing. This is a safety measure to keep folks from starting their car while it is in gear and having it move unexpectedly.

If your shift cable is broke, and you can get the transmission into park- it can still start- assuming everything else is ok.

This sounds like multiple problems. Are you sure the battery cables are clean and tight? when trying to “restart” the battery (not sure what that means,) you or AAA may have loosened one or both of the cables, causing extra issues now. Check that.

Count me in for shift cable, as well

Could even be the shift cable bushing itself . . . same result, shift cable doesn’t work properly

Being the car’s 23 years old, I wouldn’t be surprised if the shift cable bushing completely disintegrated, allowing the cable end to pop off of the shift arm on the transmission

Thank you all. It was gear shift cable broken. After replacing the gear shift cable this is all fixed.