The shift selector cable puts the transmission into the proper gear, which is indicated by the shift selector that it has been moved by the driver. Automatic transmission vehicles normally have one cable that runs from the transmission to the shifter assembly, while manual transmission vehicles have two. They both have the same signs when they start to go bad. If you suspect yours is failing, watch for the following symptoms.
1. Indicator doesn't match the gear
If the shift selector cable is going bad, the indicator light or cable will not match the gear you are in. For example, when you move from park to drive, it may say you are in park. This means the cable has stretched to where it doesn’t move to the correct spot and the incorrect gear noted. The cable can stretch over time, so it does need to be replaced over the lifespan of your vehicle. When this happens, contact a professional mechanic to have your shift selector cable replaced.
2. Vehicle will not turn off
As the shift selector cable stretches, you may not be able to remove the key from the ignition or turn the vehicle off. This is due to the key not being able to be turned unless the car is in park on some vehicles. When this occurs it can be dangerous as you may not know what gear you are in as you are trying to turn off the vehicle. This can make your car unpredictable and become hazardous to yourself and those around you and should resolved as soon as possible.
3. Vehicle starts in another gear
If your vehicle starts in any other gear besides park or neutral, there is a problem. It could be with the shift interlock solenoid or with the shift selector cable. A mechanic needs to diagnose this problem to differentiate between the two as they can have similar symptoms. In addition, there could be an issue with both parts, so they need to be replaced before your vehicle can properly function again.
4. Vehicle will not go into gear
After you start the vehicle and try to shift it into gear, if the gear selector will not move then there is a problem with your shift selector cable. The cable could be broken or has stretched beyond repair. This prevents the transmission from having the leverage needed to change gears. The car will not be able to be used until this problem is solved.
As soon as you notice the indicator doesn’t match the gear, the vehicle will not turn off, it starts in another gear, or it will not go into gear at all, call a mechanic to have the problem further inspection. YourMechanic’s qualified technicians are also available for any questions that may arise. They make replacing your shift selector cable simple because their mobile mechanics come to your home or office and fix your car.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Shift Selector Cable and was authored by Spencer Clayton.