Addendum (added 3/31/07): I get a lot of traffic on my blog for this entry. The answer on how to get the car out of park IS in here. So, if you found this blog posting because you are having the same problem, you can find out how to rectify the problem if you keep reading!!!
I own a 1996 dark green Honda Accord EX. And I love this car. It has been a regular work horse for me. It has really never given me much of a problem. I feel badly though, because I never named it. I never even assigned a sex to it. I assume it’s a girl, but I can’t say for sure!
Princess was the car I had before this current car. She was an older model Honda Accord that I bought from a real life Thai princess. It had a car phone in it before people even really had cell phones. Except for doctors, and they had those big brick phones (remember those?). Awesome to have a car phone back then! And the Thai princess named the car “Princess”. So I kept the name.
The car I had before THAT car was a fire engine red, 1971 baja style Volkswagon bug with a factory sun roof, dual carbs, and a dual cam engine ground out to increase the cc’s to something ridiculous that I can’t remember now, and with Hurst shifting. It was a CRAZY GREAT car. It was my first car. I bought it back in 1988 I think, for about $3500. A fortune to a girl who would go out with friends and order hot water and lemon and put honey in it, cuz it was free. When I bought the car, I asked the owner, what’s the car’s name? They looked at me sort of funny, and asked why I would ask that. I told them “a car like that HAS a name, and I don’t want to change it”.
“Dudley”, they said. And Dudley he was. I loved that car. But he became impractical at a certain point because of career changes and a viscious commute, and I had to let him go.
Present week! The Honda Drama. I recently took my car in to a local independent Firestone service center to have a whole bunch of little things taken care of. I needed an oil change, I needed an alignment, I needed a new battery, I needed new front brakes, and, in addition to a few other things that I found out I needed, I needed new radiator hoses. (Those babies are EXPENSIVE, btw!). So, since I am leaving my car with my cousin to use while I am gone for the summer, I wanted it to be in the best condition possible to avoid her having any problems with it. I’ve also been having problems with the button on my shifter not working, but they couldn’t reproduce the problem or see anything wrong with it.
I won’t tell you what the grand total was. It was not cheap. But I drove off feeling good about the car.
The next evening after Bunco I was dropping friends off. I watched the temperature guage go from nearly in the blue, to in the red in the span of about a minute. I pulled in to my friend’s driveway and saw steam, or maybe it was smoke, coming out from under the hood. When I opened the door, I smelled something hot and burned.
The next day I met the tow truck at my car in front of my friend’s house and got towed back to Firestone. I explained what happened, and speculated that it seemed as though perhaps a hose was not correctly attached and I lost all my radiator fluid. I was assured they would check it out. About an hour later I got a call from them telling me that I had cracked my radiator. I steeled myself for a fight when it came to who was going to pay the bill for this.
When I picked the car up, I was handed a receipt for $0.00. I guess they agreed with my assessment of the problem! Which is a good thing, cuz I didn’t really want to fight with them. I have fought with mechanics before. It is true that they will take advantage of the customer, and probably because I am a woman I have looked like an easy target.
Present day! For a few weeks now, as I mentioned, I occasionally have trouble getting my car into gear. It gets stuck in “park” and the button on the shifter won’t engage. When I turn off the engine, and turn it back on, and try again, it works. Until yesterday.
My sister and I went to the county to pick up our disapproved plans for Rancho Liberte’. I parked in the 15 minute zone. We had the plans picked up and were back to the car well within the 15 minute limit. Until I couldn’t get the shifter to work. I tried. Over and over. And over. I really didn’t want to have to have my car towed again. This time I was plenty far from Firestone. So I just kept trying. I’ve heard that the definition of insanity is to try the exact same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I guess I was a bit insane then, cuz I just sat there and kept trying, hoping for something different to happen.
By the shifter there is a little slot that has writing next to it that says “shift lock”. Remember now, I have had this car for ten years. In all those years, I never was curious enough to look up in the manual what that was for. I figured it was some sort of anti-theft device you could set if you wanted, but never bothered to learn. I thought, “well, it seems like the shifter IS locked, maybe this slot will help”. I stuck my key down into the slot, where it bounced up and down, but did nothing to help start the car.
Okay, bring out the manual. “If you still cannot get the car into gear, turn the car off, take the key out of the ignition. Push key down into slot while pressing in the button on the shift handle at the same time. This will unlock the shifter.”
Huh? Enough people have had this problem to actually have a solution built into the vehicle? That’s just odd to me. Why all of the sudden would it start locking up on me? And how odd, how very very odd, that this “shift lock” slot exists.
I have never seen, or maybe just never noticed it on any other vehicle. It worked, though, and we were off. How utterly embarrassed I would have been to have had my car towed all the way to a mechanic, only to have them stick the key in that slot and unlock it.
(OR, a horrible thought I just had was, to have them tell me I needed a new transmission! I probably WOULD have believed them without any question!)
If your car has a nutty “shift lock” slot, I’d sure like to know about it.