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Old 08-15-2013, 02:11 PM   #1
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Default Problem putting car in park.

My son has a 1999 Chevy Malibu and I went to move it this morning and I noticed the the gear shift seemed very loose to me and when I went to put it back in park it would not go unless I backed up a couple feet and then pulled forward, then I could get into park. Iasked my son about it and he said the shifter is loose and that he has to kind of hold down on it to get it into park. Any suggestions on what'* wrong.
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Old 08-15-2013, 03:13 PM   #2
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Try shifting the lever at the transmission. If it shifts clean you have play in the shift linkage.
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Old 08-15-2013, 03:17 PM   #3
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Not sure what you mean by that. Please explain.
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Old 08-15-2013, 04:22 PM   #4
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The gear shift is connected to a lever at the side of the transmission by a sheathed cable. Quite often the only problem is the cable needs to be adjusted. If you follow the cable to the lever on the transmission, disconnect the cable from the lever, and try shifting the transmission by manually moving the lever. If it shifts fine you know the problem is with the cable adjustment. If it has problems shifting it is internal to the transmission.
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Old 08-15-2013, 05:16 PM   #5
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Does anyone know if this particular Malibu has an electronic transmission? Some trannies don't actually have a physical shift cable, as it'* all done with a switch that is made to have the "feel" of a mechanical shift cable.

I would start by checking if this tranny has a cable, located on the driver side of the engine compartment, pretty much underneath the master cylinder. The cable should attach at the top of the transmission. If you're handy with cars, try disconnecting the cable entirely (engine off, wheels chocked, ignition on) and see if you can move the lever the cable attaches to. It should be fairly easy to click it all the way from Park to Low1, with about as much force necessary as a slightly stiff doorknob.

If you are able to shift through all the gear detents smoothly with no binding (especially shifting in and out of park) then you can eliminate internal transmission damage as the cause. Next step is to move the shifter throughout its full range - any noise or binding would point towards the shift cable, it'* basically like a larger version of a bicycle brake/shifter cable (braided cable moving within a sheath) so if this cable has frayed at any point within the sheathing, or even outside the sheathing, it will give you difficulty.

It may be necessary to open up the steering column near the shifter (if column shift) or removal of the center console (floor shifter) for further diagnosis and replacement.

If you determine the shifting mechanism is fine, and the problem lies within the transmission, then perhaps you need to instruct your son not to let the car "rock back" when he parks it - especially on hills - as this places stress on the parking pawl inside the transmission and can cause difficulty shifting in and out of Park. I have to constantly lecture my mother on this one, and she still doesn't get it.

OK, there'* my $0.02 - take it or leave it. Hope this helps you out!
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Old 08-15-2013, 05:23 PM   #6
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Also, Roy may be right, the cable may be out of adjustment, although to be honest, I have never actually seen that before. Some cars may not have an adjustment at all - for instance, my '87 Buick LeSabre doesn't have a throttle cable adjustment (although I've never looked at the tranny cable, but I've had cars with non-adjustable shift cables in the past).

I'm not discounting what Roy said at all - it'* definitely possible, especially with the sloppiness of the gearshift that you mentioned.
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