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Cant shift out of drive! Help!

3620 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  ngorske

I have a bit of a problem. Today I got into my 2005 outback 2.5 automatic, drove to work went about my business. On my way home I stopped at the mall to pick something up and when I pulled into the parking spot I was surprised to don't I couldn't shift back to reverse or park. I have the car in neutral with the hand brake engaged. I opened the hood and removed a lot of snow that was packed inside, I still cant get the bugger to shift back into reverse or park. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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· Registered
2013 2.5i Limited
41 Posts
Sounds like a frozen shift linkage. Frozen snow / ice probably getting in the way of normal shifting. heat / warmer day can help or look on the trans and follow the shift cable.


· Registered
20,315 Posts
Or it could be the shift lock solenoid preventing the gear lever from moving into the reverse (and the park) position.

The solenoid works with the brake light switch -- that's why you need to be pressing on the brake to shift into, or out of, the park position.

Check to see if the rear brake/stop lights are working. If the fuse for the stop lights blows, the shift lock solenoid doesn't work and the mechanism remains in the locked position. If the fuse blew while you were driving, you won't be able to shift from drive to reverse.

· Premium Member
01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
19,137 Posts
Dodge Chargers did this and it was the lock mechanism at the base would break requiring a complete shifter change.

Could be the brake switch or the lock solenoid, also.

Then there is this:

NUMBER: 16-71-07

DATE: 02/15/08
2005-08MY Legacy/Outback w/4AT
Inhibitor Switch Cover/Splash Fin


The purpose of this bulletin is to announce that an inhibitor switch cover and splash fin is now available. These parts were designed to prevent snow, slush and ice from limiting movement of the gear selector lever when packed in the area around the inhibitor switch. These parts should only be installed on vehicles that may experience this type of issue.

· Registered
2012 Subaru Outback 2.5 Automatic
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for all the tips guys, I think as Mike said it was a frozen shift linkage. I removed more snow after posting which was fun as I had left my gloves home to dry after doing some ice fishing yesterday. After a majority of the snow was gone I turned the engine on and let it run at temp for a while to hopefully help with the melting. While it ran I checked the transmission fluid and all good there. I got back in and was able to shift into reverse so I took advantage of the opportunity and got out and went straight to the car wash where I put in $5 worth of quarters and sprayed the **** out of the undercarriage. When I got home it went into park just fine.
Thank you Plain OM and Cardoc. If this happens again in the summer time I will know its not a frozen shift linkage, lol.
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