Question about 1997 Mercury Sable

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1997 Mercury Sable Shifter will not move out of Park after starting. If I disconnect the battery it moves fine. If turn the ignition key to the first position (no dash lights on) it moves fine. Once the ignition is on, no go. Once the engine is started, no go. Any know what's up with this problem?

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  • Robert Corbett Apr 09, 2011

    Car runs fine once in gear NO TRANSMISSION ISSUES. The problem is somewhere in the safety lockout mechanisms. Either the key release for the shift lever, or the brake lockout for the shift lever. Either way, I need to know which one it is and the location of both mechanisms on the vehicle. Thanx Bob

  • Robert Corbett Apr 10, 2011

    Your info was right on!! My brake light switch at the brake pedal is bad. Thanx a million and I will definitely be referring to your service in the future. Bob C.



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Sound like a problem with the shift interlock cable mechanical problem or shift lock actuator.

Additionally, I find this tips about this problem and clues to solution tips...
* fuse #5 "Brake Interlock" * rear defroster
* Fuse #28: Stop Lamp & Speed Control

* fuse #32 "Brake Interlock"
* Fuse #17: Stop Lamp & Speed Control

* fuse #27 "Brake Interlock"
* Fuse #17: Stop Lamp & Speed Control

TIP - Getting outta park
Trick to get it out of park: Just turn key to ON position, put car in neutral, then start car.

Coffee and Messy Drinkers
The most of the time it is caused from coffee and cokes spilled on the console. Remove the console and clean all of the linkage for the brake pedal lock out.

If it is console shift, the linkage that locks it in park until the brake pedal is pushed gets coffee spilled on it and gets sticky and won't work. You need to take the console out and clean the linkage.
Brake Light Switch

Your Brake switch could be out. Push the brake pedal and have someone check to see if your brake lights come on. if they don't your switch( located under dash and on top of steering column is out) Almost on the right track. I actually had the same problem. This is a switch on your brake pedal. This is a recall item by Ford. Take it to a dealership and they will replace for FREE since it is under Ford's recall.

it is the stop light switch located on the break pedal arm you can get it at the parts store for around 15-30 dollars and you should need minimal tools if any to replace it
This is most likely to be caused by a problem with the brake switch mounted to the brake pedal.

Easy thing to check and replace - easy in that it's accessible and only 1 or 2 small mounting bolts.

Check to see if your brake lights are working,if you have no current for brake lights you will have no current to shifter release solenoid.Could be just a blown fuse,if that's not it there could be a problem with wiring or the release solenoid itself.

First, make sure you're pressing the brake firmly when you try to push the shift button. If that's not working, check the brake pedal switch and the relay under the shift assembly.

Start by check king your brake lights to see if they work. If they don't work, call the dealer and see if your vehicle has a recall for the brake light switch showing up on their OASIS( Ford term for Online Automotive Service Information System). If there is a recall, guess what? You get a free tow and fix at your friendly local Ford dealer! Whether or not there is a recall, it doe's sound like you need a brake light switch and connector pigtail replacement.

Check the Shift Button
If its a standard stick (console) with OEM leather wrap on the stick its holding the button in slightly. Make sure button is fully out. Makes key stick also.

I have had the exact same problem with a '94 Taurus. For me, the linkage had to be replaced. The linkage is the mechanism that connects the shift lever to the transmission.
Brake - shift interlock Page 105 of the 1999 Taurus/Sable Owners Manual has the instructions on what to do.

Keep us updated.

Posted on Apr 09, 2011

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It seems like a broken shift cable. It sounds like the transmission oil pump is not producing enough pressure to operate the transmission. This would entail removing the transmission, opening it up and replacing the transmission pump. A line pressure test can be done to verify a bad transmission oil pump or if the Electronic Pressure Control (EPC) solenoid is mechanically malfunctioning.

Please get back to us if you have further query else please accept the suggestion.

Thank you for contacting

Posted on Apr 09, 2011


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1 Answer

Cant turn key to off and remove with out disconnecting electrical connectors?

Could be your shifter is out of adjustment. If it doesn't go all the way into park on shifter, yet transmission is in park, then the shifter is moving to a far enough position to remove the key.

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2000 ford mercury 3.0, shifter wont move. had a fender bender, put it into park and it wouldn't come back out.

For car not changing gears it can be shifter assembly issue, or it can also be transmission issue. Get the shifter assembly inspected with ignition OFF.

For more troubleshooting, I suggest you to get the Following help link checked, its complete step by step procedure to inspect gear shift issues: -----



These will help.


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Not likely a blown transmission. More of a shifter cable issue. There is an adjustment nut on the ****** end. It could be loose or missing. If the nut is fine you have a broken cable.

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My brother told me to go onto the Internet to find out how to remove the ignition key on his 1997 Mercury Sable. He didn't say ignition switch just ignition key. Is that the same and how does he go about...

The key is what goes into the switch. So the key is stuck in the switch? try pushing in the key while turning the switch back to get it fully to the off position so you can remove the key.
Or there might be a button lock near the switch you might have to press to remove the key.
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1997 cougar won't come out of park.

sounds like the brake shift interlock is not working. you need to press down on the brake to be able to move the shifter out of park. if that system is defective, it wont let you shift out of park. look at the center console 9if it has one) is there a slot that looks like you could slide your ignition key into? if there is try inserting your key into this slot and with your foot on the brake move the shifter into neutral. put the key in the ignition and it should now be able to start and shift into drive and reverse. but if you go back to park it will lock up again. i would bring it to the garage for a repair of this system (may need adjusting, may need replacing, but they would be able to diagnose and repair)

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Ignition key doesn't turn, gear shift stuck in park

Check under your dash at the levers for the Brake pedal. There are some Interlock switches that get hit by feet fairly regularly. The switch that makes the gearshift unlock is on the Brake pedal.You have to have your foot on the brake to shift out of Park.

When the shifter is stuck you will not be able to remove your Key from the Ignition. You need to press on the Brake and then try to get the trigger on the shifter to move into Park. Once in Park everything will be okay.

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94 mercury sable stuck in park

Check your brake lights. If they dont work, the shifter will not come out of park. You should be able to turn key on, move shifter, then start it in neutral. Check fuses and then brake light switch.

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'00 Mercury Cougar Wont get out of Park. gear shifter is stuck

sounds like your brake/shift interlock solenoid is not releasing.
Your owner manual will tell you how to bypass in emergency.
Check your fuse first. fuse panel on instrument panel.

Please rate as fixed if this helps.

Fuse 23 - 1 5 amp
Fuse 34 - 7 1/2 amp

check enigne light not related.

The selector lever lock can be moved mechanically out of position ”P" when for example the battery is disconnected or completely discharged.
Using a ball point pen or similar item as an unlocking lever, push forward and hold in position.

Move the selector lever out of position "P".

NOTE: If the selector lever is moved back to ”P" it is re-locked.

Selector Lever Lock


Apr 28, 2009 | 2000 Mercury Cougar

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