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You mention the knob on the shifter is loose. Do you remember if the knob has always been loose or is this recent? I ask because I thought there was a button to push or a lever to lift to move the shifter into or out of R and P. So that you might not accidentally push the shifter into either of those settings and possibly damage the mechanism. If there is a lever or button, it might be that the button or lever doesn't fully disengage when you press it BECAUSE the knob on the shifter is loose. You might need to tighten the knob. Might need hex keys / Allen keys or small screwdrivers to tighten the knob. good luck.
there should be 2 Phillips screws hold the shifter knob to the shaft. once you take out those screws it should just pop up. as far as I know there are no springs in the knob it's just a slide button. the rest of the parts are part of the shifter assembly.
you have to know if the problem is inside transmission or outside first under truck unplug shifter cable then try to move the manual lever of transmission near the pan but have hand brake on so the truck won't run over you. if the problem is inside the transmission could be the parking pawl nut to manual shaft too much end play if it outside transmission could be trans, cable or linkage hope it helps
The front of the handle has a large "U" clip. Use a screw drive and pry the clip out. It's a lot easier to do when the shifter is pulled all the way back to "1" or "2" but is doable in park still. The handle will then pull up. There will be a plastic piece in it that pushes down to release the lock in the shifter assembly. If when you push the plastic piece down it doesn't release the lock you will have to remove the shifter cover and take a look inside, to see what broke. It may require replacing the whole shifter assembly. You should be able to find the complete assembly used for fairly cheap.
Have the EXACT same problem. 2005 Pt Cruiser w about 88,000 miles. Became hard to shift when cold and then bam ....something broke. Moves freely. I know I'm going to get screwed on this... what should it cost to have it fixed. The guy at a shop close by (figured close to make towing easier) started into this 'its a dealer only part and blah blah...at least an hour .... " He's going to send an estimate tomorrow. I'm in E. metro Atlanta