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Thread: Stuck in Park, 99 Jeep

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  1. #1
    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Stuck in Park, 99 Jeep

    This morning, my 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee <5.2L> (left out over night in 15 degrees F / -10C) could not get out of park. The button on the left side of the transmission selector would not press in.

    I started the engine and warmed up the inside for 15 minutes or so with the heater, as I assume the engine will help warm up things under the hood a bit.

    After more than an hour of trying to move the gear selector, I gave up and took a different vehicle to go to a restaurant for lunch and do other stuff. Shut the Jeep Engine off.

    Around two hours latter, I get home and back to the Jeep. Now, the shiftier works perfectly and I am able to drive it again.

    Any ideas on what caused this problem? Anybody here know how this stuff works? Is it all mechanical or is it electrical too?

    It's normal for the brake pedal having to be pressed in to be able to shift out of park. I checked the brake lights when it was NOT working and the brake lights worked normally (I checked this in case it works electrical from the brake).

    But another unusual thing was when it was still stuck in park, I could fully steer the car from full left to full right and and back with the ignition key completely out. The steering lock wasn't working.

    So how does this stuff work? No problem now, but I know it can happen again at any time, perhaps from the cold.

    -Don- Reno, NV

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ken's Avatar
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    Hi, Don.

    The release button is part of a combination safety system. I think it comprises a solenoid, some wiring and a cable, and works in conjunction with the brake servo.

    My guess is that the cable was wet/damp and froze up - not surprising outside at -15 F. Running the engine and leaving it for a while let enough warmth seep through to free the cable off.

    Just a wild guess, but I have been known to be right sometimes.

    Ken.
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    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  3. #3
    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    Hi, Don.

    The release button is part of a combination safety system. I think it comprises a solenoid, some wiring and a cable, and works in conjunction with the brake servo.

    My guess is that the cable was wet/damp and froze up - not surprising outside at -15 F. Running the engine and leaving it for a while let enough warmth seep through to free the cable off.

    Just a wild guess, but I have been known to be right sometimes.

    Ken.
    Yeah, I think there is a relay involved. It might even be part of the switch assembly on the gear selector itself. I figure the relay (or whatever it uses) can be quite small, as I assume it deals with fairly low current just to lock a switch.

    Anyway, it has not happened again, not even after the very next very cold night.

    BTW, it was +15F, not -15F. And it did NOT work after warming the engine, at least not right after, up to 30 minutes or so, when I shut off the ignition, gave up and went to lunch. But a couple of hours later, when I got back, everything was back to normal, as if it never happened, yet it was still quite cold outside.

    Anyway, I have been driving this Jeep a lot and no more such problems. If it happens again, I will look under the gear selector cover and see how it works. I figure at worse case, I can release the switch with 12 volts or at least figure out what keeps the switch locked in the tranny selector.

    -Don- Reno, NV

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ken's Avatar
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    Oops! +15 F/-10 C, my bad.

    What I was guessing was that, over time, the residual warmth from the engine run was enough to free off whatever was sticking.

    Ken.
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    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  5. #5
    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    Oops! +15 F/-10 C, my bad.

    What I was guessing was that, over time, the residual warmth from the engine run was enough to free off whatever was sticking.

    Ken.
    Yeah, that was kinda my guess too. The extra couple of hours was all that was needed. Still has not happened again, and I have been riding this 97 Jeep every day.

    I got my Jeeps mixed up in the title, I own both a 97 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo (5.2L) and a 99 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo (4.7L).

    It was really the 97 Jeep that had the problem.

    -Don- Reno, NV

  6. #6
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    Yeah, that was kinda my guess too. The extra couple of hours was all that was needed. Still has not happened again, and I have been riding this 97 Jeep every day.

    I got my Jeeps mixed up in the title, I own both a 97 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo (5.2L) and a 99 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo (4.7L).

    It was really the 97 Jeep that had the problem.

    -Don- Reno, NV
    The park setting has to be released by a relay and your foot on the brake pedal. that was a response to Fords problems on unintended reverse at times in the early 70's. I would say either your ignition switch or the key lock on the steering column (they are separate but work together) is getting worn out.

    The lockout can be defeated but it's a pain. there is often a small hole you can stick a pin into to release it. However, I had a 2000 Cherokee (the smaller one) with a similar problem and if you turn the ignition key far enough to release the steering lock, but NOT far enough to turn the systems on, you can slip the shifter to neutral and start it there. Contrariwise, you can turn the ignition almost but not quite to the OFF position and get the same result. you'll feel a little notchiness in there and can go by that.
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