Car Stars INTERMITTENTLY in PARK and ALWAYS Starts on NEUTRAL

Tiny
SAMUEL ATERE-ROBERTS
  • MEMBER
  • 2003 NISSAN XTERRA
  • 3.3L
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 210,000 MILES
I will give a brief chronology of my problems over the last six weeks and hopefully I can get a recommendation on what to do next.

1. On August first, car will not start in "park", all lights on but no cranking. AAA came checked out battery fine.

2. Later car started on "park" and I dropped up car at PEP BOYS
3. PEP BOYS checked it out and decided I needed a new starter. Starter replaced.
4. Drove car a couple of days and same problems with starting on "park". Towed car to PEP BOYS but problem could not be duplicated.
5. Drove car a couple of days and same problems with starting on "park". Towed car to another repair shop close by but problem could not be duplicated.
6. Kept having the same intermittent start problem as four and five above and car was parked in a parking garage and when tow truck came to tow, height did not allow access. Tow driver went in and moved gear to neutral and it started.
7. Concluded that parking neutral (PN) Switch was the problem. I took car back to PEP BOYS and explained tow truck driver finding and asked them to replace the PN Switch. After re-placement car could not move in gear and they concluded I have a transmission problem. Car towed to Mr. Transmission and they concluded I now have a bad transmission and it has to be rebuilt or replaced. Was the transmission failure while at PEP BOY a coincidence or did they mess up? I am going to small claims court to address that and as a minimum get refund for wrongful replacement of my starter.
8. To cut a long story short, I replaced the transmission with a used one, but I am still having intermittent starting problems in "park" sometimes but it starts on "park" and it always starts on neutral when it does not start on "park". I was just going to ask a mechanic to just replace the PN Switch hoping it will solve the problem. Then I saw this posting in another Nissan forum indicating that this may be another problem causing my starting problem.

[COLOR="Red"] Also, check the cable that runs from your shifter to the ignition itself. Its what will unlock the ignition switch. It also does something which let's the ignition know the vehicle is not in gear which will allow it to start. [COLOR]

So should I replace the PN Switch or this cable referenced above as the first option to solve my intermittent starting problem?

Thanks
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Monday, September 19th, 2016 AT 3:12 PM

5 Replies

Tiny
HMAC300
  • EXPERT
Why some clown will tell you the transmission is bad because it will not start in park is beyond me. First try this what I am sending in pics for adjustment before you put a new cable in. Check out the pictures below. You will need a 4 mm pin or drill bit to perform this. Then it may be the cable is stretched.
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Monday, September 19th, 2016 AT 3:48 PM
Tiny
SAMUEL ATERE-ROBERTS
  • MEMBER
Thanks HMAC300.

First I must clarify that PEP BOYS claimed that after they replaced the PN switch and tried to drive the car that is when they figured out that my transmission had failed (coincidence timing?). I towed car to a different mechanic that confirmed I had a failed transmission. So I am suspicious that PEP BOYS may have messed up my transmission trying to replace the PN Switch.

I cannot do the repairs you described above. If the time to adjust the cable is not much different than the time to replace it, should I not just replace it? How much will labor for this replacement cost. What is the exact name of the cable so that I can get a quote?Thanks again
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Monday, September 19th, 2016 AT 5:23 PM
Tiny
HMAC300
  • EXPERT
It is called a shift cable and prices should be checked locally as cables and labor vary all over. Replacing it is up to you but you have put quite a bit of money into it already for an intermittent problem, but with age and miles probably best bet is to replace it.
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Tuesday, September 20th, 2016 AT 6:04 AM
Tiny
SAMUEL ATERE-ROBERTS
  • MEMBER
HMAC300
Thanks again for your response. Based on your feed back and additional research I did online on other repair forums, the following two parts have been identified as the possible culprits for my starting problem.

1. Shift cable you identified above
2. Park-Neutral-Position (PNP) Switch

For both of the two items above I have heard that they can either be "adjusted" or "replaced". Can you tell which of these will be the most likely to replace as my Truck has 210,000 mile? If I take it to the Dealership can they do a diagnostic to figure which of the above is the problem?

Also I did something today when it did not start on PARK after parking the car at work for 9 hours. Instead of trying to start on NEUTRAL as I normally do, I just move the Shifter from PARK to NEUTRAL and back to PARK. It started then at PARK which tells me something may have a loose connection in the shift cable to transmission or PNP switch to transmission. Either way I will take to the dealer although my normal mechanic can replace either of these for cheaper.
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Tuesday, September 20th, 2016 AT 6:05 PM
Tiny
HMAC300
  • EXPERT
With the mileage and age of truck i'd do both that way it's taken care of although it sounds more like acable to me. Any garage or trans shop can do this not necessarily a dealer unless they are cheaper
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Wednesday, September 21st, 2016 AT 6:18 AM

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