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Jim Grant Tech Tips Jim Grant Tech Tips
A collection of helpful articles based on reader submissions
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Below is a collection of Jim Grant's Tech Tips sorted by Vehicle Make. These Tech Tips were answers to questions submitted to Jim by users over the course of many years.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email us.



Lincoln - Mercury
  Jim Grant's Tech Tips

'97 Mercury Sable

Q: I have a ‘97 Mercury Sable wagon. After the car has sat overnight in cold weather, I have trouble shifting out of park. In warmer weather, I can start the engine and immediately depress the brake, depress the gearshift and shift into reverse. Now that the colder weather has settled in, I need to wait till the engine has run for at least five minutes before I can hope to jiggle the gear shift to get the button depressed. I am afraid that at some point, I may need to have the car towed when it does not start and I will not be able to shift it into neutral. I have brought this problem into the dealership. They replaced the gearshift, thinking it was possibly some internal plastic part, but the problem still exists. Do you have any ideas as to what would cause this?

A: I would suggest an inspection of the Shift Lock Actuator. The Shift Lock Actuator (SLA) is an electrically controlled solenoid that is activated when the ignition is on. The job of the SLA is to prevent the movement of the gear selector/shifter from the park position until the driver has placed their foot on the brake. When the brake is applied the SLA is deenergized allowing the shifter to be moved from the park position. The most common temperature related problem we see is caused by internal wear in the SLA. This wear causes the solenoid to bind internal and when deenergized will not move to the rest position. The result is a shifter that refuses to be moved from the park position. There is a by-pass for this system, but if the solenoid is stuck in the wrong position the by-pass doesn’t work so well. Have your technician check the Shift Lock Actuator for and type of roughness or binding. If there is the assembly needs to be replaced. One last note, don’t try lubing the SLA. Once worn it will always be a problem.

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