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(Almost) Stuck Shift Lever - '96 Villager

skidman1skidman1 Posts: 2
edited February 2015 in Mercury
Earlier this morning I had to drive my wife's car a short distance. When I tried to put it in drive, the shift lever refused to pull down for quite a while - took 10-15 tries before it finally went into drive. Same issue on the return trip. Note: temperature was in the low thirties then.

I noted that the shift lever would not allow being pulled toward the driver for the normal distance until it finally went into gear.

I have a Ford Technical Pubs Service Manual CD, and found the section for the Transmission Range Selector (Villager - tilt steering wheel type). Reviewed that section.

Early afternoon I tried it again and it worked 20 times in a row - no hangup at all. Then, a few minutes ago (almost 4PM), I tried it again and it hung on the first try (couldn't pull the lever all the way back) but then it released and worked ok thereafter.

The clue is that the lever wants to hang on the rearward pull. Is this problem likely isolated to the Selector lever mounting assembly on the column, and (hopefully) would not involve the shift cable or transmission itself?

The wife did say that she had 'a little' trouble like this when cold, but I'll guarantee she hasn't experienced what I did - you can bet I would have heard about it big time!

Any help here will be very appreciated.

Best Answer

  • skidman1skidman1 Posts: 2
    Accepted Answer
    Tried it early this morning (8:15AM - fairly cold), and still had the problem - but didn't have anyone to watch for the brake lite then. I found I could repeatedly flick the lever backwards (only toward the driver) and eventually it would go back all the way, then drops down into gear position easily. Repeated this process several times, same result.

    Tried it again (11:30AM - now warmer). Observer saw the brake lite on & worked first time plus more - no hangups. But it was notably warmer then. Checked the brake lite switch - firmly mounted & connector snug.

    More info ... While it was working, with the ignition sw on & motor not running, I heard the definite 'click' from the Shift Lock Actuator (found it in the manual - buried down on the Dang steering column) when I hit the brake pedal.

    As would make sense, if a light to moderate backward pressure is placed on the lever, when I hit the brake the actuator sound was either subdued or silent, and didn't release.

    So, the next step is to wait for another cold morning when it wants to fail, and listen for the click volume. If it doesn't release immediately, then hit the brake X times to encourage it to wake up - see what happens then.

    If nogo, then ...
    A. Maybe a redneck corrective action might be required - store a BFH in the driver area and beat on the steering wheel to produce vibrations!
    (But, maybe not.)

    - or -

    B. Try a bit more technical approach.
    But one very serious question first - can the connector on the actuator be accessed WITHOUT having to pull the steering column out? I am NOT up to that!

    In the Pinpoint Test A procedure, A1-A4 make sense to me, but A5 as written is absurd. It says to have the actuator connector *disconnected*, then look for a voltage drop down below 1 volt on the 'W' wire with the brake pedal depressed! BS! There ain't no load on the circuit to drop the voltage!

    I think they were trying to determine if the actuator coil is partially or completely shorted, but checking it that way sure won't work. Then the last half of the measurement spec says to look for "greater than 10 volts with the brake pedal released".

    Well, seems to me that if there was 10v or more at the pick side of the coil with the brake released, it ought to stay picked all the time with the brake off!

    Anyway, *IF* I can get to the connector without destroying the interior, I can take voltage measurements with the connector in place and see what I get.
    A BIG *IF*.

    Do you know if that connector is reachable by removing the shroud?

    As you had indicated, it still could be a bad brake switch (temperature sensitive internal connection), a faulty wire connection (temperature sensitive) or a bad relay. Dunno yet.

    Please advise. Thx


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    When this happens again, check to see if you have brake lights. If you don't, then your brake light switch is probably bad, and this will prevent the lever from moving. Maybe the switch is loose, or the connector is loose, which would explain the intermittent nature of the problem.
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