Shifter, Linkage ot Transmission Issue?

Asked by Apr 21, 2017 at 05:27 PM about the 2002 Toyota Avalon XLS

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

500mi from home yesterday, car would not start again (2nd time in 2 days).
All lights/warnings working in all positions except start. Turn key to start car
and nothing happens. Noticed the shifter seemed "soft" between P and R.
Shifted down to L and back up. When the Shifter read P, the car was still in
R. Pushed a bit harder and it went into P and the car started.

Shifted to D and the car was still in N. Had to drop it to L, then 2, D, N, etc.
and finally managed to get it into D. Managed to get home and was able to
get the car in P after a couple of tries. All I can say is the shifter feels "soft"
as if something is loose or worn.

I would appreciate any insight into what you think the issue might be and
how I can go about a preliminary diagnosis. Shifter in console? Linkage
external to tyranny? Internal to tranny (yuck)?

Contrary to this post, I am pretty handy and do remove and replace items
under the hood like water and PS pumps, etc. have removed dash and
console to install stereo, have replaced speedometer cables and fixed a
broken bushing in a shifter linkage in another car. I do have access to repair
manuals via AlldataDIY.

Sorry this is so long and rambling. Thanks for any insight and helpful advice!

1 Answer


The car is not starting because of the neutral safety switch down on the transmission. The shift linkage is not getting to the proper location. The shifter feeling soft, and not moving properly leads me to believe there is something loose in the linkage. Just would have to get the car up in the air to take a look at the linkage to the transmission.

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