Automotive

Some subaru outback help... shift stuck in park...

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  • Jan 5th, 2015 12:34 pm
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Deal Fanatic
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Jul 16, 2003
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Toronto

Some subaru outback help... shift stuck in park...

anybody have any experience with this or heard of this happening before?

it's happened a few times to my dad's new outback now... sometimes... it won't go into gear from park.

start the car
foot on break
and the thing won't shift into the reverse or drive or anything... parking brake up down doesn't matter...
brute force won't work either...

then after a few tries it works but feels really random... i can hear the click but it looks like it's not dislodging .. anybody heard of this issue before? what needs to be fixed?

i was stuck for 10 mins today... trying to get the car into reverse from my driveway in the snow... eventually it just worked...
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24 replies
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Feb 2, 2006
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Set the parking brake when you park. I suspect you were up on snow/ice and the show/ice melted or shifted or whatever and the car moved putting a lot of force on the little pin thats engaged when the car is in park. This extra force is why the car wont come out of park.

It happened to me a few times. Getting in the habit of using the parking bake should help things.
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Jun 22, 2006
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Is there a manual release which you can pop the cover off in order to shift in an emergency? It looks like this:

Image
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What RFD can do for you?

If you drive dangerously I hope you get caught and lose your license/car/dignity! :twisted: :twisted:
Deal Addict
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Aug 28, 2001
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It might be the steering wheel lock. Turn the wheel so that it's exactly straight, then try again.
Deal Guru
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Sep 3, 2003
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Park-Neutral position switch.
Deal with it.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
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Pretty much all cars are supposed to have a BTSI (Brake-Transmission Shift Interlock) bypass as pictured above, I'm pretty sure all Subarus that I've seen have this. Sometimes it's not so obvious and sometimes there is no sign to tell you where it is. It's usually under a small cover though and once you pop that off (as shown in the picture) the vehicle key most often is used to actuate the BTSI solenoid manually--put the car in neutral (park brake applied) and then use the key to start the car ;) You can remove the cover and just leave it like that to make it easier for you until you repair the problem; don't lose the little cover though, your car will look ghetto, lol.

What jason suggested is torque-lock on the parking pawl. That could be your problem but if you use the parking brake and applied it properly before shifting into park (like you should) that shouldn't be a problem. Also torque-lock will not stop the shifter button (if present) from being depressed whereas a BTSI problem often will. (So if the button or initial gate relase is the problem, it's probably not torque-lock).

The steering wheel usually stops the key from turning, not the shifter from being used; and if you can start the car the wheel is probably free turning anyway, at that point.

Could be a park/neutral type switch but usually that prevents it from locking in the first place (or locks it in gears other than park), but it's still a possibility.

I'd say it's a BTSI problem; since it's intermittent (and not a total failure) I would guess that it's wiring/circuitry related and not a problem with the solenoid (but it could be anything in the system).
Sr. Member
Aug 3, 2006
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KorruptioN wrote:
Dec 16th, 2007 4:01 pm
Park-Neutral position switch.
That is what I do when I'm driving an auto and have to park on any slope.

Stop (on the brakes), put it into neutral, pull up the e-brake/parking brake, let off of the brakes, then put it into park.
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Jun 12, 2003
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GoiNGPoSTaL wrote:
Dec 16th, 2007 6:30 pm
That is what I do when I'm driving an auto and have to park on any slope.

Stop (on the brakes), put it into neutral, pull up the e-brake/parking brake, let off of the brakes, then put it into park.
that's what i do EVERYTIME before i shut her off
ShadowVlican
[OP]
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i always use my parking break.. but i know my dad is an lazy butt when it comes to that...

anyway.. i'll let him know and ask him to try the stuff suggested and see i it happens again...
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shaolinmonk wrote:
Dec 16th, 2007 9:01 pm
i always use my parking break.. but i know my dad is an lazy butt when it comes to that...

anyway.. i'll let him know and ask him to try the stuff suggested and see i it happens again...
Try using your parking brake next time. I hear they work well for stopping cars! ;)
Deal Addict
Mar 21, 2007
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Most likely the brake-shift interlock mechanism is on the fritz. Maybe failing or just dirty and not releasing the lever when you step on the brake. Read up where the manual override is, just in case. My wife's Legacy is a manual, but my dad's Forester automatic sometimes has the same problem, and the manual override is an absolute joke, you have to tear apart the whole centre console, so that's not an option. If its the same in the Outback, better get it fixed asap, before you get stuck somewhere you don't want to be for much longer.
Jr. Member
Dec 4, 2005
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Vancouver
I'm not a Suburu Tech, so I don't know the exact workings, but if it is similar to the other vehicles I've worked on, then there would be 2 good possibilities for this.

(1) There is a brake switch (usually behind the brake pedal). This switch gives a signal to the shift mechanism to allow it to know when the driver is on the brake to allow the shifter to shift out of park. To check this is simple, first step on the brake pedal and check the rear tail lights to make sure they light up. If they don't light up, there is a problem with the brake switch (sometimes, they intermittently work).

(2) There is a park range switch which is a more difficult to check, as it is most hidden in the console where the shifter is in most cases. That would be my second guess. Sometimes, they either fail or the shifter is out of adjustment.

I mostly see brake switches fail in these types of cases, but yours could be completely different from what I'm thinking.

Good Luck.
Deal Addict
Dec 30, 2005
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There is a series of circuits that starts with the brake switch, then goes to the shift/lock solenoid and then to this computer microchip that is also next to the gear shift. The solenoid may be stuck or it could just be something as simple like the fuse. Pretty sure it's the solenoid.
[OP]
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guys just so you know this is pretty much a brand new car... from vanbortel subaru about 2 weeks ago.... i was moving it yesterday when i came over to shovel the snow for pops... he mentioned it's happened before so i told him to go to the shop and have it checked out... just wondering if it was so human error on a new car... (cause to me it sounds more like a defect or something not working)

the manual override looks the same ... it's hidden in the shifting console...
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Deal Addict
Dec 30, 2005
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Your best bet is to take it to your local Subaru dealer here and have it checked out. Another thing is to check www.subaruoutback.org and seek some advice on the issue. I understand the new warranty rules for Subaru, so you may as well check it out and have it serviced, if need be and then reimbursed from SoA if something is wrong with it. I'm still pretty adamant on the solenoid issue though...
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