Mechanics

WON'T SHIFT INTO PARK

2001 Ford Windstar • 6 cylinder FWD Automatic • 225,000 miles

I have a 2001 windstar with 225000 miles on it. Recently the column transmission shifter needed the needle to be between P and R to be in Reverse and between N and D to be in drive. Then the van started having trouble being shifted back into park. How can I fix this problem and how much will it cost?
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Usfcire
June 21, 2011.




This can be caused by one of 2 things: The shifter linkage has slipped, which is an easy fix. Put the shifter as far up into park as possible, locate the linkage on the transmission and loosen the nut securing it and move the shifter on the transmission to fully engage Park and move the shifter until it fully indicates Park. Shift all the way to the lowest gear and make sure it properly indicates low gear.
2: Some shifters have a cable that control the needle positioning. Remove the upper steering column cover and adjust as necessary.

Rivermikerat
Jun 21, 2011.
Anywhere you know that I can get instructions how to do this?
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Tiny
Usfcire
Jun 22, 2011.
To do which? Removing the steering column cover? Screwdriver. Remove screws.

Adjust linkage? Nuts and bolts. Loosen and adjust as described above. Use wrenches or socket and ratchet.

Rivermikerat
Jun 22, 2011.
I have never seen the linkage in any car let alone my own van, so that is the part I am most concerned about. I don't really know what to look for or where.

Tiny
Usfcire
Jun 23, 2011.
Open the hood and look for the steering column. Have someone move the wheel back and forth to help, since it's pretty cluttered under a minivan hood. Once you locate the column, around the outside of it will be the linkage. Follow that down to the transmission. Again, it will be cluttered and most likely greasy. It would be helpful to raise the front end, blocking the rear wheels. Once you locate the linkage and follow it to the transmission, you will see a connection that uses a nut and bolt to create friction against the linkage. Have the helper move it from Reverse to Park to help you orient yourself as to what direction you need to move it to adjust it properly. Loosen the bolt and make the adjustment. Tighten the nut and bolt when finished.
The usual cause of this problem, besides the nut/bolt loosening, is someone may have gotten mad and slammed it into Park or another gear, bending the linkage. Tell them to kick the tires inside of abusing the transmission next time.
Before doing all that, remove the screws from the plastic steering column cover inside the car. Locate the shifter mechanism and see if a nylon cable is attached to it. If so, it is usually adjustable. Loosen whatever is securing the cable, allowing the PRNDL indicator to move and point to Park again.

Rivermikerat
Jun 23, 2011.
I looked it over and messed around with it but I discovered two things. 1. Fords have a funny clip that acts as the linkage cable terminal to the transmission, therefore to bolt/nut combo. 2. I can access all gears manually at the transmission, but the gear shifter is all gooey now and can only access neutral and drive but can shift back to neutral. Could this be the cable that is giving me a problem?

Tiny
Usfcire
Jun 28, 2011.
Possible, but not probable.
Readjust the linkage. Block one wheel front and back for safety. Have someone move the shifter from Park through Low while you watch what direction it moves. Have it put back into Park and loosen the adjuster, being a cable, it is probably a threaded rod and nut. Move shifter on the transmission fully into Park. Tighten the adjuster and check operation.

Rivermikerat
Jun 28, 2011.
It was not the cable after all. I was in the process of removing the shift linkage cable and before I even got started a star headed screw fell down. After a moment of looking I found that the connection of the cable to the bracket in the car was very loose making it gooey and unable to shift. Though it was a tight fit for my arms and hands and 15 minutes of struggling the car was working properly and all that was left was to put the cosmetic pieces back on. Thanks for the help!

Tiny
Usfcire
Jun 28, 2011.
My pleasure. Thanks for letting us know all is well now.

Rivermikerat
Jun 29, 2011.
My vehicle is a 2001 Ford Windstar LX and I was having this same exact problem as well and with the information on here went over to my dads to try and fix it. Discovered we didn't even need to take the steering column apart to fix it. We did, lol, but after a lot of looking discovered by laying on our back on the floor board looking up and behind the dash area, discovered you could reach it just fine. My problem had nothing to do with the cable attached to the transmission. In all reality it should have taken 10 minutes max to repair. Also had another problem that I have seen on various sites with this vehicle. Once in awhile the warning lights for the ABS brakes, the brake, the emergency brake and the battery would come on. I think those were the names of them. Anyways this has been happening now for about 8 years (I'm the original owner) and when we took off the air intake so we could see down the steering column under the hood, my dad discovered some frayed apart wires that he had no idea what they were but he put them back together and no more warning lights coming on all the time. I'm happy! Thank you for having this site!

Tiny
Tamijefferis
Apr 3, 2013.

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