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Transmission Lock Button, Stuck In Park


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Twice in the last month my SC300 will not allow me to shift out of park when the car starts. However if I let it run for a few minutes and it warms up, it will allow me shift out of park. I am assuming when I press down the lock out button it is either out of adjustment or needs replacing. Anyone have a solution before I get stuck somewhere with a car that I can not shift out of park?

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When this happens, do you hear a slight click when you depress the brakes. I believe mine makes a slight click. That should be the relay/solenoid disengaging the shift lock. I know that solenoids and relays can go out, so maybe that's what's bad?

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A common cause of this problem is a defective brake light switch -- it is located under the dash at the brake pedal arm. Next time it happens you can confirm whether or not this is the problem by checking to see if the brake lights come on when you press the brake pedal.

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Problem is that it hasn't done it again, literally only about once a month so I havent been able to experiment. Where is the solenoid located, might as well see if some R&R will work as I would prefer if this never happens again.

The solenoid may be sticky from soda or something getting in there.

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I figure its somewhere under the console. You could find the solonoid then give it a good cleaning with contact cleaner from your local electronics store, but I would just replace it. Shouldn't be an expensive part. I don't know exactly where it is as I've not had any trouble with mine. Also, check all the wiring going to the thing (either with an ohm meter or with visual inspection). Maybe someone here knows where to locate it. I think you will probably have to remove the console trim and such.

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Place the car in neutral. Remove the shifter handle and the black plastic shift-gear indicator. Look straight down the shifter lever and you will see it at the 10 o'clock position.

If anyone has spilled a soda, coffee etc. on that center console, chances are it landed on the switch. Use WD-40 on the switch and activate it several times by stepping on the brake while watching it.

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  • 3 years later...

Hey I'm having this same problem and I just wanted to add that if you ever have a problem taking the key out while in park just disconnect the negative terminal from the battery and the key will come out. Just wanted to throw my 2 cents about that before someone goes throwing in a bunch of graphite into their ignition.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok so here is the solution to this problem after some troubleshooting on my part, after I was having this problem:

Car: 92 sc400

From the begining..

Problem: My car when I first turned it on would not allow me to shift out of park so I would have to use the shift overide button, as well when I would put it in park and get out of the car I couldnt get the key out after turning the engine off, so to get the key out I would have to disconnect the battery negative terminal from the car to kill the power to the ignition solenoid which holds locks the key in place.

Solution: The problem was not the shifter solenoid and there is no such thing as a shifter relay but their is an ecu/ecm which controls the signals between the shift lock solenoid and ignition solenoid and the shift lock switch which was the root of the problem.

so the thing is when you hear that clicking sound when you depress the brake its your shift lock switch stuck in one postion (I will refer to it as pos.A), which under normal conditions gets set in pos. A, when you put the car in park however if the shifter is in any other postion and and your shift lock switch is still in that pos. A then thats the brake letting up on the lock of the shifter so it will actually shift (hence the name "shift lock swtich")

Ok now suppose your shift lock switch is in the opposite postion (I will refer to it as pos. B) this is what tells the shifter ecu/ecm to tell the ignition solenoid to 'lock the key in' so to speak while you are driving under normal operation circumstances. Also if the shifter ecu/ecm is reading a pos. B from the shift lock switch and the car is in park it will not send the current to the shifter solenoid to let the shifter shift out of park,(Just to make this clear the shifter not the transmission)

For the shifter solenoid to recieve a current it needs a signal from the shifter ecm/ecu which the shifter ecm/ecu will only send if the shift lock switch is in Pos.A

That is where the shift lock overide button comes into play in case something like this happens so troubleshooting and service is still possible (Toyota engineers: 1pt, Toyota critics: 0pts)

The shift lock switch is located under the console where the shifter is to the right it is a black plastic rectangle with 3 wires protruding from it leading to the shifter ecu/ecm the shift lock switch is moved from Pos. A to Pos. B mechanically by the motion of the shifter shifting from park (Shift Lock Switch Pos. A) to the other gears (Shift Lock Switch Pos. B) The shift lock switch, shifter ecu/ecm, and shiftlock solenoid have nothing to do with the transmission only the shifter itself interacts with the transmission.If a mechanic tells you other tell him that sc400intraining said "wakka wakka flakka wakka wakka, sorry my stealership is a little rusty" (let that sit you will get it later)

Ok now that I have explained that here is the reason for my shift lock switch being not being mechanically switched by the shifter:

The plastic binding it to the shifter broke off so there was no mechanical contact between shifter and shift lock switch. So for now I just keep the shift lock switch in pos. A and deal with the clicking sound from the brake if I left it in Pos. B it would lock my key in after turning the car off and i would have to press the shift lock override everytime I wanted to shift out of park.My permanant fix will be bonding it back on using some epoxy(super glue on Arnold's steroids lol) from home depot the kind that is especially for plastic.


92-00 sc400 repair manual


small bit of knowledge on how electical and mechanical parts work together



shift ecu/ecm in front of shifter (12 o' clock)

shift lock switch right of shifter black rectangle box looking thingy with three wires protruding from it (3 o clock)

shift lock solenoid to the bottom left of shifter( 6 o' clock)

Disclaimer: Not a mechanic just a broke guy with a brain and the internet...

if i need to clarify anything just lemme know...and I will post some picks of the parts when I put down this bong I mean...

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