URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby Gabor Latte [OP] » September 18th 2020, 9:37pm

I bought a 99' Astro last week. I went to move it an hour ago, and suddenly the gear stick won't shift out of park mode. It's urgent that I move the car from its current parking space as quickly as possible or else I'm gonna get ticketed. I just did an hour's worth of research online, have tried a few things, but mostly the mechanical jargon is over my head. It's suggested to override the shift lock, but have been unable to determine how to do that. I did notice that there is a thin band-like thingie hanging out of the side of where the ignition key goes in, slimed up with oil residue (see photo). Was this there before and I just didn't notice?? Possibly not. Could this be related to why I can't move the stick?
Also, in case it matters, it's parked on a hill.
Any help, the sooner the better, would be much appreciated. Thanks!

p.s. I didn't know what topic to place this post in. If there's a more appropriate topic, please let me know, and I'll delete this one and repost...
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thin band-like thingie hanging out of the side of where the ignition key goes in, slimed up with oil residue
Last edited by Gabor Latte on September 18th 2020, 9:53pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby AstroOafAdventurer » September 18th 2020, 9:46pm

No idea what that is, may be the mechanism that allows for shifting out of park.
I see the shifter boot is ripped, I'd remove the rest of it and take a peek and see if you can find the release to move it.
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby petema » September 18th 2020, 10:04pm

If you have parked on a hill, the weight of the car may hold the mechanism in the transmission so tight that it won't let it open. If you can offload the torque on the wheels some way, for instance by having someone pull the car up the hill just a few inches, the mechanism may release. Best and only suggestion I can give you in a hurry. P
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby vangogo » September 18th 2020, 11:01pm

Be sure you are firmly depresing the brake pedal when you try to shift it out of park
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby Gabor Latte [OP] » September 19th 2020, 12:49am

The shifter boot has perhaps a vey small rip, but I've no idea how to remove the rest. Any pointers?
I've read today about the hill phenomena you describe, Petema. The hill is actually steep, and I've got terrible back pain at presently and noone to recruit at the moment to push the van. Before I hustle up the help I need, I wanna maybe rule out other possibilities, such as that this damn bit of hanging rubber-band like material - photo attached in my original post - isn’t the true cause for these troubles, as it seems suspicious - I certainly didn't see it before today. Hoping someone might weigh in on that.
Am definitely pressing brake firmly while trying to shift. No go.
Last edited by Gabor Latte on September 19th 2020, 1:21am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby Big_kid » September 19th 2020, 1:13am

Like Petema wrote above- it is most likely stuck in park because the weight of the van wanting to roll downhill is preventing the parking pawl from disengaging. If this is the problem (and not a broken shift linkage/cable or bad solenoid) which it most likely is, all it takes is a little bit of a push uphill to relieve the pressure on the pawl. This is why the parking brake needs to be set BEFORE shifting into park when parking on a hill.

Imagine pulling so hard on a door that you cannot turn the knob. This is what is happening inside the transmission.
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby Gabor Latte [OP] » September 19th 2020, 1:48am

I appreciate your input and your doubledown on Petema's input. Due to present circumstances - a bad back and recent move to new city - I haven't got easy access to a few good musclemen to give this van a good, solid, steady push up this steep hill. But I am leaning towards invoking desperate measures to getting said strongmen assembled. Before committing, I'll add that I parked the van in this same spot thrice this week, each time using the parking brake after park mode, turning off the engine, keys out and all, yet there was not this issue in these park jobs until the 3rd time. How come? This question/mystery mixed with the mystery of oiled-up dangling rubber strip suddenly appearing from key ignition area creates some doubt in your speculation. Your further thoughts are welcome.
Last edited by Gabor Latte on September 19th 2020, 2:20am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby Old Barney » September 19th 2020, 2:07am

You may have to call a tow truck to relieve the tension on the park pawl. I have in the past had trouble getting out of park with OUT the engine running. Living in mountains I never had your problem unless the motor is off. But with people pushing back up hill and you come out of park the pushers may become damaged by the van going back downhill momentary. Be safe !!
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby Astrofarian » September 19th 2020, 2:29am

Before calling a tow truck, get another vehicle and a tow-rope/strap/chain...hook both vehicles together and gently take the slack out of the rope/strap/chain...now try a couple taps on the throttle of the pulling vehicle while trying to get the van shifter to release.
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby Gabor Latte [OP] » September 19th 2020, 2:51am

Again, I really appreciate all your inputs, dunno what I'd do without them. They are really helping me to understand the situation and options, whereas before I was totally in the dark.Yet...so far it's mostly spelling out a more troubling situation...because...where I am parked...there is no place for any vehicle to get in front of me. Period. And tow trucks only pull, they never push, right? Which would then mean that the only possible remedy is to get a few hulks or he-men to push the van, where as Barney notes, "the pushers may become damaged by the van going back downhill momentary." I don't want any pushers to become damaged.
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby Gabor Latte [OP] » September 19th 2020, 3:20am

Also, does anyone know if yanking out solenoid would temporary dislodge/free the shift lever and allow me to put it into gear? Have seen a few youtube clips suggesting this...
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby Gabor Latte [OP] » September 19th 2020, 3:42am

Thanks one and all on this site/thread! I was able to "fix" it!!!! For the 2nd time today, this time quite desperate, I just pushed the van from the back several times, created a rocking effect, and then I got beyond the wheel and, viola, the shifter goes into gear! What a relief!
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby MechBob » September 19th 2020, 4:29am

Glad you got it. Most times it is as said,park pawl in tranny is doing it. However,some info--Astros,and most GM's of this era,the interlock is only engaged when the key is on to the run position. If you turn key on 1 click,no power to vehicle yet,interlock does not engage,and you can shift shifter without stepping on the brake.If you want to do away with the interlock,just unplug the solenoid.Also,have seen interlocks not disengage,when steering wheel is tilted all the way up.
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby Gabor Latte [OP] » September 19th 2020, 7:50am

Once again, thanks to everybody that responded to me today! Virtual drinks that clink all around! You gave me the information that helped me understand the issue in enough detail to eventually arrive at a cure! And Bob, thanks for add'tl info and understanding to file in the noggin - I actually came across the advice about "turn key on one click" today, tried it best I could, but shift stick was still stuck. I'm glad I didn't have to bother with the solenoid route, I got off relatively pain-free.
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby Leeann_93 » September 19th 2020, 5:16pm

Yep, this is why driving instruction and owner's manuals say to engage the e-brake THEN shift into park.

Also, if you're parking on an incline, turn the wheels away from the curb. On a decline, turn the wheels toward the curb.

If your parking pawl fails, and it will, the wheels and curb will hopefully keep your vehicle from taking out people and property below.


Someone screwed up the parking pawl in the trans on the '00 before we got it. The idiot PO was just using the e-brake instead, but never bothered to adjust it and it had to be fully engaged to hold the van, which made it hard to release :roll:
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby Gabor Latte [OP] » September 19th 2020, 7:43pm

Always good to be reminded about turning wheel away from curb on an incline. have basically forgotten that shiny little gem of good, practical advice.
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby sixsixsixsix is online! » September 19th 2020, 10:28pm

There have been times w/ 2 of our vehicles, where it seems the selector shaft was surely going to break off, trying to get it into Reverse. Really had to BANG it, more than what seemed natural.
Look at the Diameter of the Lever. I think ours HAS to be near 3/8".
And glad of it, parked at Wendys, 20-25 degrees down into the curb, watching traffic while we eat a Crispy Chicken.
We know it, but we pull into that area anyway, knowing full well... going to be real hard to get it out of park...

Now... what is that "Thingamabob"/cable/line/ hanging out there - figure that out yet?
.

Well, after all... what would Banacek say ?... “Everything needs to change except the asshole culture and stupid way of life of the avg. antifa, BLM follower - slobs, cowards, killers w/o any thought that they, IN FACT, are now the Racists.”

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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby Gabor Latte [OP] » September 20th 2020, 3:01am

sixsix, I'm afraid I don't follow your story entirely, and whether the image of watching traffic while eating Crispy Chicken is a positive or hardship experience (in this instance).

I'm pretty sure the selector shaft would have broken off if I'd applied any more pressure. Clearly it wasn't going to budge until something...shifted...within the physics of its parts, which was done by rocking and rolling the van.

As for the thingamababob, it remains a mystery, like the origins of life, or an unsolvable murder. Except it seems to be some kind of band that wrapped around some part of the ignition key area. Not certain what its relationship is to the issue of shift-stick-stuck.
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby sixsixsixsix is online! » September 20th 2020, 2:39pm

Gabor Latte wrote:sixsix, I'm afraid I don't follow your story entirely ...

I always forget ... the audience.
The Remark that I should have emphasized:
sixsix wrote:20-25 degrees down into the curb

Sorry for the confusion.
.

Well, after all... what would Banacek say ?... “Everything needs to change except the asshole culture and stupid way of life of the avg. antifa, BLM follower - slobs, cowards, killers w/o any thought that they, IN FACT, are now the Racists.”

.
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Re: URGENT: gear stick won't shift out of park

Postby Gabor Latte [OP] » September 20th 2020, 10:56pm

Ah yes, the audience - me in this case - catches more of your drift now. Thanks!
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