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Gx470 Won't Shift Out Of Park

Craig Hill

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I've got a 2003 GX470 with 140,000 miles. Yesterday, my wife dropped me off to pick up my car from a repair shop. She put the car in park, I got out and went inside. She called my cell phone 1 minute later to tell me her ABS light was on and that she could not shift out of park. I got in and FORCED the car out of park and told her to drive it home.

Is this a bad brake switch? If so, is it something I can repair myself?


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There are so many inter-connected functions in the braking system, the problem could exist in any of several places. I'd check the fuse panel first since fuses are supposed to be the first point of failure. There's probably a fuse that protects the transmission interlock switch, and also one that protects the shift-lock ECU, but since your ABS light is on, check the ABS fuse(s) too. If you find a blown fuse, try replacing it. But if the new one blows, obviously you need to look elsewhere for the problem. Most likely the problem isn't the interlock switch, but something related to the ABS system. The interlock switch state isn't being sensed, hence the interlock solenoid isn't being released. There might be a brake-pad wear sensor that trips the ABS light when your brake pads are getting thin (checked them lately with 140K miles behind you?) Personally, I dislike ABS systems, but because of the way the electrical system is designed, it can't intentionally be disabled without affecting other necessary functions (like getting the car into gear). I tried to disable the ABS on a Pathfinder and most of the dashboard warning lights lit up -- I didn't try finding out which ones were for real. It's easy to understand why it's taken Toyota so long to figure out its accelerator problem -- even the design engineers don't know where to start looking.

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A defective brake light switch at the top of the brake pedal lever is the most common cause of this problem. If it is, the easiest way to confirm is to see if the brake lights turn on when the brake pedal is depressed. I guess the switch is easy enough to replace if you can lay on the floor in front of the drivers seat to get to it -- might depend on how spry you are! I had one or two fail on a 90 LS400 over the years and wasn't charged much to have a new switch installed.

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If the shift lever does not move, there is a override feature on the GX, just remove the leather and with a Philip screwdriver remove the shift lever cap, there is shift lock release, have it depressed, now check if the lever can be shifted to any other position other than P. This must be done while the key is in position to "LOCK". ( AT this position the lever should not actually move to any position)

After this procedure now get to the Ignition"ON" position, now depress the brake/clutch pedal and move the lever to all position other than P( while the release link is depressed) . Now move the lever to D position, and now turn the key back to "lock position". The key should not turn to lock position while the lever is position at D.

If it does than that means the shifter has below a detent rod and a torsion spring, The spring is the culprit here which has broken, once you open the it you will know the stuff, if the spring or the lever is all ok, then it is the shift lock Control ECU sub assy blown. You can do this job yourself with basic tools, only get the part from the dealer. Before you get the right part, have an inspection done and you save up the dollars from the dealer ( unless you are under warranty)

If you have all the tools, this job should not take more the 90mts with taps on. cheer

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  • 10 years later...

Hi all. I was grateful to use the advice on this thread, and just wanted to give another example for future reference.

2005 GX470.

Problem: intermittent ABS, VSC TRAC, VSC OFF and skidding vehicle icon lights, all at once. Mainly started with foot on brake but could persist for awhile while driving. Less often, the shifter interlock would lock the shifter in park requiring us to push the override button to the right of the shifter to put the car in gear, and that button finicky, had to push it several times sometimes. The problem seemed more common in wet conditions but was not sure.

Attempted solutions:

-tighten gas cap: no

-new gas cap: no

-new brake lamp switch (part no 84340-69015) $42.21 on Ebay, installation labor $82 (tried but couldn't figure out how to DIY): bingo

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