Chevy Astro and GMC Safari Forum banner
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Problem: the battery is hooked up and fully charged, the key turns in the ignition but the car doesn’t start, no sounds only silence. Column shifter won’t move out of Park.

I had this same problem last year around June 21 2021. We live in Alaska and unhook the batteries on all our vehicles for approximately 3 months Dec-March. It happened at a gas station I found some guys to help push it out of the way. I bought a brand new battery an it still wouldn’t start. Sat there with my hood open ( my husband’s suggestion) to attract attention and lure auto mechanics to my rescue. It worked, except the 1st one was a diesel mechanic, really nice but couldn’t figure it out… 5 hours later the 3rd & 4th helpful mechanics, one jumped in the drivers seat wiggled the stick shift and steering wheel and Viola it started….he said something about a safety sensor that doesn’t allow the vehicle to start, now it’s sitting in my carport and we can’t move it out because it won’t come out of park.
Hoping someone on here can give me some clues to get her going. Thank you T
Automotive parking light Wheel Tire Vehicle Vehicle registration plate
Automotive parking light Wheel Tire Car Automotive side marker light

Automotive parking light Wheel Tire Vehicle Vehicle registration plate
 

·
Registered
1999 AWD Safari, 1995 Astro 5-speed
Joined
·
726 Posts
Are there two issues going on here?

Wiggling the shifter around resulting in it starting makes me think you have a intermittently failing neutral safety switch/inhibitor switch. This function is to prevent a vehicle from being started in gear, and it is located inside the steering column.

Second issue of not being able to move it out of gear, are you certain key is fully turned to unlock the shift selector? The full two positions as if the engine was started and is now running.

If the key is not unlocking the shift selector, you may have an additional mechanical linkage or blockage failure inside the column as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Are there two issues going on here?

Wiggling the shifter around resulting in it starting makes me think you have a intermittently failing neutral safety switch/inhibitor switch. This function is to prevent a vehicle from being started in gear, and it is located inside the steering column.

Second issue of not being able to move it out of gear, are you certain key is fully turned to unlock the shift selector?
Wow thank you so much. I’m gonna try your suggestions and sending you good Karma forever!!! T
 

·
Registered
1999 AWD Safari, 1995 Astro 5-speed
Joined
·
726 Posts
Luckily this is an 86 and you wont have to deal with an airbag. Im not exactly sure whats involved to replace this switch on an 86 if it is indeed the problem, but i can say that dropping the steering shaft down on early version is pretty easy.

I wasnt able to find any directly relevant threads, but there is a possibility this can be done without removing the steering wheel

I would search around and see if you can get some images from threads here, there is a lot of data that can be helpful

Also dont forget to check the simplest issues first, like possible blown fuses ect.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Luckily this is an 86 and you wont have to deal with an airbag. Im not exactly sure whats involved to replace this switch on an 86 if it is indeed the problem, but i can say that dropping the steering shaft down on early version is pretty easy.

I wasnt able to find any directly relevant threads, but there is a possibility this can be done without removing the steering wheel

I would search around and see if you can get some images from threads here, there is a lot of data that can be helpful

Also dont forget to check the simplest issues first, like possible blown fuses ect.
Thank you again✌🏼
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
949 Posts
I have not had a first gen van for ages but I don't recall if the brake has to be depressed to shift out of park into neutral. I'm sure one of the first gen owner/mechanics can answer that.
Also If that is the case maybe one of the first gen owners can tell us if that vehicle will start in neutral. Some vehicles will start in park and neutral but no other position. If it's a case of a bad contact in the park position, moving it to neutral might do the trick.
 

·
Registered
2004 Astro V6
Joined
·
150 Posts
Info you want,Dchan.. is here below..I think I'd at least disconnect the switch or jiggle the connection around..Also apply the brake pedal when you try to shift it..Info below is from the Haynes 1985-88 repair book.It should start in Neutral also by the sound of it.I haven't used this book since about 2007 when I had an '85 cargo one..


Brown Font Material property Publication Paper
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
949 Posts
So it appears that Toni might be able to crank the engine if she can get the shifter into neutral. And IIRC, you do have to depress the brake pedal to shift from park into neutral. This usually a mechanical latch/lever if that's not working properly it could keep you from shifting into neutral to try to start the vehicle.

Thanks realityguy I stopped keeping all my old manuals.. Too many books sitting around never getting used. Only keep current vehicles manuals now.

another thought. you mention "Stick shift" is this a manual transmission or Automatic.. Still sounds like a bad or intermit interlock switch but the mechanics of it are different. The Stick shift interlock for the starter would be part of the clutch pedal not in the column.
 

·
Registered
2004 Astro V6
Joined
·
150 Posts
The first line or two mentions "column shift"..so I'm assuming it is an automatic?

The replacement paragraph mentions setting it in neutral ,prying the tabs,and pulling off the switch after removing the electrical connection..That should tell/show you if the "interlock tab" is broken? I haven't pulled one out to see what is on there for a lockout item...or inside the column is broken on the switch.Perhaps someone pulled it out and put that switch back in in the wrong gear?.."park" instead of "neutral"? I don't know.If the piece is broken and floating around in there,could be jamming things up?..just suggestions...something to look for.Replacing that switch seems pretty easy.
I think in one of the manuals I have(might be the 2004) there is also a mention of how to get the "stuck shifter" out of the park position..which ocasionally happens when you park into a curb with pressure or have the wheel turned hard all the way and take out the key.I think you need to put pressure on the brake pedal or something before you turn the key on..?I'll have to see if I can find that.It might be something else that happened and the shifter was forced out of its normal position.Perhaps pulling out the switch will allow the shifter to move to neutral..and placing it back in?
Logically for me that is the first thing I would look at.I've never had that problem.
 

·
Registered
2004 Astro V6
Joined
·
150 Posts
After thinking more about it.,"Logically" doesn't seem to exist in "Astro-ology" ..more than likely it is the bad "backup-light fuse" or a "bad ground somewhere"...😆

Your husband might want to crawl under the van and see if some of the shifting linkage is loose causing the column shifter to get out of sync with the transmission one. At the same time,you could try jiggling the shifter while turning the key to On with the Negative battery terminal disconnected so it can't start..and see if it will shift then... Of course..that is logic again and doesn't seem to work on Astros.However..that might eliminate one possible problem if things feel tight between the two end points.

:rolleyes:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Luckily this is an 86 and you wont have to deal with an airbag. Im not exactly sure whats involved to replace this switch on an 86 if it is indeed the problem, but i can say that dropping the steering shaft down on early version is pretty easy.

I wasnt able to find any directly relevant threads, but there is a possibility this can be done without removing the steering wheel

I would search around and see if you can get some images from threads here, there is a lot of data that can be helpful

Also dont forget to check the simplest issues first, like possible blown fuses ect.
Thanks again:)
After thinking more about it.,"Logically" doesn't seem to exist in "Astro-ology" ..more than likely it is the bad "backup-light fuse" or a "bad ground somewhere"...😆

Your husband might want to crawl under the van and see if some of the shifting linkage is loose causing the column shifter to get out of sync with the transmission one. At the same time,you could try jiggling the shifter while turning the key to On with the Negative battery terminal disconnected so it can't start..and see if it will shift then... Of course..that is logic again and doesn't seem to work on Astros.However..that might eliminate one possible problem if things feel tight between the two end points.

:rolleyes:
thank you so much for taking time to help. T
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,797 Posts
I own an 89 and had similar situations, I swapped out the steering column and replaced the neutral safety switch and never happened again. GM steering columns from earlier vehicles had issues with wiring breaking inside the column, and it would cause intermittent starting issues as well as frying the neutral safety switch.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I own an 89 and had similar situations, I swapped out the steering column and replaced the neutral safety switch and never happened again. GM steering columns from earlier vehicles had issues with wiring breaking inside the column, and it would cause intermittent starting issues as well as frying the neutral safety switch.
Thank you
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
After thinking more about it.,"Logically" doesn't seem to exist in "Astro-ology" ..more than likely it is the bad "backup-light fuse" or a "bad ground somewhere"...😆

Your husband might want to crawl under the van and see if some of the shifting linkage is loose causing the column shifter to get out of sync with the transmission one. At the same time,you could try jiggling the shifter while turning the key to On with the Negative battery terminal disconnected so it can't start..and see if it will shift then... Of course..that is logic again and doesn't seem to work on Astros.However..that might eliminate one possible problem if things feel tight between the two end points.

:rolleyes:
Thank you
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Did you get this thing going?
Not yet ordered a new ignition and probably going to try the remote start thing on the starter with a hard hit to it’s side. Hubby is a commercial fisherman and is out fishing Copper River Sockeye and Chinook🤞awaiting his return for the starter thing. By the way, I really appreciate you inquiring, it was a wonderful gesture😎thank you. T
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top