Question about 1996 Ford Explorer

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Will not go into park

A screw fell out from under dash on drivers side and now the lever will not go into park, other than that the trans seems okay

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This is a very common problem with ford trucks. the screw is gold in color and uses a torx? simply apply a bit of loc-tite and screw it back in. it goes on the bracket that attaches the shift lever to your shift cable. put the seat all the way back and look straight up next to your brake pedal you will see what im talking about. good luck!

Posted on Feb 09, 2010

  • ken peterson Nov 08, 2010

    Thanks a lot for this description--right down to the appearance of the screw. Same thing happened to my daughter's Explorer and this posting probably saved me hours.

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I think it is linked to the Starter Interlock system and probably a switch on the Brake pedal lever under the dash.

There is suppose to be a safety system(check brake lights) which prevents starting the car without a foot on the Brake or without the car in Park.

Some makers may allow starting in Neutral like the old days; but the intention of the system was to prevent runaway cars from moving when the Gearshift lied about being in Park.

I know that the system had to be adjusted "referred to as timed" so that the shift linkage, Brake pedal switch and sometimes Ignition switch had to be in the right place for everything to work.

Reading your problem it is evident that part of the system was crippled for some time, and finally fell apart on you.

Possibly your shifter indicates D when it is in another gear and that the linkage is binding and preventing the correct selection of gears.

You could securely jack a rear wheel off the ground and disconnect the trans linkage. Have an assistant operate the gearshift and see if it makes sense and if it is binding. If the shifter seems okay, your only choice is to try to operate the shift lever sticking out of the trans. Engine OFF. To see if valve body in trans is rough.

Alternative is to tow it to a Repair shop for diagnosis. Notice I did not say Trans shop. You don't know if you need a Trans shop yet. So taking it somewhere where they do not install Transmissions will go further in getting only what is necessary fixed.

Please rate my info, I hope it helps.

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Look on the floor in the driver's area for a small bolt... don't throw it out.
What happened on mine was a gear shift linkage connection under the dash (to flanges attached with 2 small bolts) came loose and one of the bolts fell out.
Best way to check if this is your problem: if you take the fuse panel access cover off (driver's side lower dash by the door) , then while looking up at the underside of the column, wiggle the shift lever. You'll see the flange and bolts just off the the right of the column.
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