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2008 HHR won't shift out of park

lulu76lulu76 Posts: 12
I saw some other posts on this topic, but it seems like people jump around here, so I wasn't sure where to put this. I need some help and/or feeback on my 2008 HHR.

This morning, I started up my car and went to shift out of park and nothing happened. (No, I did not use my autostart and yes my key was in the ignition in the on position). The shifter just would not move. It felt like it was going to break off in my hand.

Finally I somehow got the car to shift and I drove to work. After I got it out of park, it shifted with no difficulty at all. I even stopped at a gas station, and it shifted in and out of park with no problem. The only time there is a problem is when I am first turning the car on.

I called the dealer and they said that they've had several HHR's with this problem lately. It also seems to be a popular problem among HHR drivers on the Internet.

What they couldn't tell me is if I am going to have to pay to have this fixed. I am 3,000 miles over my bumper to bumper, but am still under the powertrain warranty. I also saw there was a recall for an issue with the shifter on the 2009s, but nothing on my model, although obviously it is a popular problem.

Anyone know how GM is dealing with this or how much the repair might set me back. Despite it being a common problem and fixing several cars recently, the service tech at the dealership said he couldn't even give me a ballpark figure without looking at it.

I have driven Chevys my whole life, and I have always loved them. This is the first car I've had that was not made in the U.S., and frankly I am beginning to wonder if is made out of junk.


  • ray80ray80 Posts: 1,655
    Couple of things that could cause this. If your parking on a hill nd the parking brake isn't set prior to putting it into park, it can roll against park pawl and be very difficult to get out of park. The other thing I can think of is possible problem with the BTSI (Brake Transaxle Shift Interlock). It should not be a very expensive part to replace and could be just a loose wire.
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,252
    Hello Lulu76,
    I apologize that you are experiencing a problem with your vehicle. Can you please email me your VIN and current mileage? You can get my email by clicking on gmcustsvc. Thank you,
    Mariah GM Customer Service
  • kzdkzd Posts: 3
    on first start and then randomly after that, it takes about 5 minutes of brake pressing, unlocking and relocking doors to get it to can hear a distinct clicking in the dash/steering wheel when depressing the button on the gear shift
    I bought it used, and am not sure about the warranty that it has left. Has anyone had this and had it you mind sharing the cost and troubleshooting?
    Am going to take mine in to the dealer, but wanted to be as knowledgeable about it as possible beforehand to minimize run around
  • ray80ray80 Posts: 1,655
    I presume you have the auto tranny. I believe there are a couple safety gizmos that could be involved here. One is the Brake transaxle shift interlock (should be in the console area, kind of below the shifter) and one in steering wheel area near ignition switch (may be what you are hearing).
  • kzdkzd Posts: 3
    ok thanks, I will check it out and then post my solution
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,252

    I apologize for the problems you are experiencing with your vehicle. Please keep us updated on any information from the dealership. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us directly.

    Thank you,
    Caron, GM Customer Service
  • laserbluelaserblue Posts: 313
    Had the same problem with my 2010 2LT
    One week after buying my HHR with only 100 miles on it ... it got stuck in "Park".
    They replaced the complete "shifter assembly unit" (on warranty). Unfortunatly it's not only 1 part that has to be changed, it's the entire assembly.
    Once in a while it does it again, I called the dealer and they told me to take my time while putting it on "D" go slowly...start the engine, press slowly on the brake, wait a couple of seconds and then shift it on "D".
    I thought the service technician was turning me on but no, it's a matter of taking it slowly....somekind of mechanical device?
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,252
    I apologize for your conerns. Have your tried getting a second opinion from a different dealer? I look forward to your response.
    GM Customer Service
  • laserbluelaserblue Posts: 313
    Yes, I went to another dealer and they told me about the same thing and said that the HHR is the same as the Cobalt, everything except the body. Same platform, engine, transaxle etc... and same problem with the shifting out of park, more commun on the early models, but %$&^[email protected] mine is a 2010.
  • lulu76lulu76 Posts: 12
    My mom has a Cobalt (2007) and when my HHR (2008) started doing this, she told me hers does the exact same thing, especially if she parks where it is not completely flat and does not engage the parking brake. So, I didn't even bother with trying to get it fixed. It does help to set the parking brake, and the other thing that helps (don't ask why; I don't know.) is if I lock the doors before I shift instead of letting the shifter lock them. It must just be something inside the mechanism somewhere. I figure at some point I will have to get it fixed, but since it's a common problem, I'm not too concerned that I got a lemon. Other than that and the fact that my low-profile touring tires are an expensive pain in the hind-end, I LOVE my HHR.
  • ray80ray80 Posts: 1,655
    The problem you describe with your Mom's car is pretty common thing for many vehicles, the parking pawl gets kind of locked in position making it difficult to shift. That particular thing can be corrected by keeping your foot on the brake, setting parking brake, then shift into park. When subsequently starting, again keep foot on brake, shift into whatever gear and then release parking brake.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,612
    May I add to that suggestion to take foot off the brake pedal after engaging the parking brake. Some cars will move some as the parking brake takes effect. Then shift into Park.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,252

    I would like to set up a case with GM Customer Assistance. In order to start the process I will need your complete contact information (including full name, mailing address and phone number), VIN, current mileage and the involved dealership sent to me in an email. Also, could you please provide a brief description of the problems you are experiencing?

    Thank you,
    Caron, GM Customer Service
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,252

    Please keep us posted when the issue has been taken care of.

    Thank you,
    Caron, GM Customer Service
  • I am having an issue with my car not starting. I have replaced the battery thinking that was the issue. Well, 2 weeks later it is doing the same thing. The cars lights, stereo, AC all comes on when the key is turned, it will not turn over. No sound whatsoever. Now the drivers side seat will not adjust, the back hatch will not open. Running out of ideas. Bought the car brand new in 08 and it has 46K miles on it. Need some assistance. :mad:
    I would really like to know whatever came of this as my HHR has started to do this very thing. Please Email me with the information i need. Things like what to fix, whats the cause etc would be greatly helpful.
    Thanks Again.
    [email protected]
  • laserbluelaserblue Posts: 313
    Dear "bjmartin"...
    It's all a matter of taking your time.
    The first time my HHR did this it had 62 milles on it.
    I went to the dealer and they change the "stick shift assembly unit" a couple of days was doing the same thing. What a stressful matter.
    A mechanic at another GM dealer told me that his Cobalt was doing the same thing but it wasn't caused by any problem with the car.
    You have to take your time...start the on the brake pedal...shift it out of park slowly.
    It's the system that work like that, if you go to fast trying to shift it out of "Park" the stick shift will lock itself enabling you to shift it out of "Park".
    I started taking my time and it never happened since.
  • Thanks for the info. I have my car in the shop right now. I will find out the details tomorrow.
    I have been shifting my car pretty calmly the whole time I have owned it. The car has over 125000 miles on it so I suppose I am lucky to have gone this long without the problem arising.
    Thanks again.
  • laserbluelaserblue Posts: 313
    Wow! 125,000 miles.
    You really took it easy on your car during all those miles.
    This means it could be something in the stick shift assembly if it just srarted after all those miles/years.
    What I find stupid is that if they have to do some repairs they have to change the entire "stick shift assembly" even if it's a small piece that causes the problem.
    GM should be smarter than that.
    It's like the door handle...if it breaks, they have to replace the entire "door handle assembly" by opening the door panel.
    If they don't stop thinking like'll get a bad "spark plug" and you'll have to change the entire motor?
    Use some "logic" GM before it's to late AGAIN.
  • kzdkzd Posts: 3
    I think mine was just sticky, though I don't recall ever spilling anything on my shifter. It started working again just as mysteriously as it stopped working. It hesitates every once in a while, but only for a moment.
  • laserbluelaserblue Posts: 313
    What year is yours (kzd) ?

    Exactly the same thing when I was starting to take my time to shift it out of "Park". It would happen a couple of time and then I had to tell myself;"Take your time and it'll be in Drive". Tried it again and it shifted in "Drive" like a knife in butter.
    Now it o.k. every time because I'm used to it now (taking my time).
  • I have an '08 HHR 75,000 mi. and it is doing the same thing. I live in Florida and have no hills. My driveway is flat so I don't need to set the parking brake. When I go out to start it the car starts fine but when I try to shift into reverse or drive I apply the brake very carefully and try to move the sifter but it is just locked in park! I have to monkey around with it by pushing and releasing the brake pedal several times till finally it realeases and I can get it out of park. Trouble is the problem seems to be getting worse! I have a bumper to bumper warranty and was wondering first of all if anyone has finally figured out what is causing this problem and secondly does the warranty cover it. And Carolyn from GM C.S. Have you heard anything on this problem yet? It seems to be a common one in the HHR and Cobalt!
  • Thank you for posting, Dilligaf3,

    We can look into your vehicle's information to see if there are nay open safety recalls on it, or can provide further warranty information for you. As to whether or not a warranty will cover a repair, it depends upon a dealership's diagnosis as well as the warranty coverage available.

    If we can be of assistance, please email us with your name/user name, contact information, and the last 8 digits of your VIN.

    GM Customer Service
  • I have the same problem my hhr is stuck on park and it won't shift to drive do I really need to replace the whole unit
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,252

    If you were going to have this work done at your dealership and wanted for us to work with you through that process, please email us at [email protected] (include your name and contact information, the last 8 digits of your VIN and mileage, a summary of the situation, and the name of your dealership).

    Sarah, GM Customer Service
  • My HHR is a 2010 LT2 (bought new) and at 62 miles I couldn't shift from "P" to "D". Had to be towed to the dealer and they replaced the entire shifter.
    Unfortunately you have to change the ol'darn unit.
    Sometimes it does it again and I'm at 25,000 miles but by taking my time and trying a couple of times (3 to 4 times) by pressing slowly on the brake pedal before trying to shift it works.
    Reminding you that the Cobalts had the same issue and the Cobalt and HHR are the same car with different bodies.
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Posts: 4,252

    If there is anything we can look into for you on this, please contact us via email at [email protected] (include your name and contact information, as summary of the situation, the last 8 digits of your VIN and mileage, and the name of your dealership).

    Sarah, GM Customer Service
  • Same thing I have seen. in numerous messages. except seems colder it gets the worse it gets. are there any recalls?

    this car was just bought about 5 months ago. It is my first Chevrolet, in 30 years. What is the fix for it? I love the car except for this problem.

    Also how do I check transmission fluid?
  • I am having this exact same issue and my luck it started yesterday on Christmas eve. I read some of these comments a the pushing the break over and over has worked thus far. But since its christmas I am stuck taking a cab because the last thing I want is to get stranded somewhere. Ugh not happy right now
  • I have this same issue happens so random and ore often in the cold weather. I'm literally at wits end with this I can sit there for hours trying everything and it still won't move
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