Dodge Dakota – Cant Shift – Won’t Come Out of Park

9:54 am Dodge Dakota, How To Auto Repair

Dodge Dakota 2002

© Summary: The 2002 Dodge Dakota above body style was produced from 1997 to 2004 (second generation). The particular subject this car repair blog is covering today, deals with the problem of the shifter not coming out of park. There are several reasons why the gear selector could be stuck in park. We’ll run down the list.

One common problem with any vehicle, is a problem with the shift a interlock system. The shift interlock system is a safety system which requires the driver to apply the brakes before shifting the gear selector out of park. This prevents the shifter from accidentally being bumped out of park by the driver or other occupant like a child or pet etc. So, the first thing to check is the brake lights. If the stop light switch (or brake light switch) located at the brake pedal lever under the driver’s side of the dash is faulty, the shift interlock will not work. When applying the brakes a solenoid should be heard making a single click sound.  On the second generation Dodge Dakota the solenoid is located in the shift selector cable which goes from the steering column to the transmission. On this vehicle the solenoid was heard, however it did not work consistently. Approximately a  third of the time the shifter would not go out of the park position due to the interlock solenoid not working properly.

Dodge Dakota 2002 Shift Cable

The shift cable pictured above has an adjustment capability built into it. Once the cable is installed it has a retainer that must be slid into place to hold the correct adjustment. The shifter cable on this model from the dealer, was an updated version. The proper name of this cable is the Brake Transmission Shift Interlock Cable and built into it is the Brake Transmission Shift Interlock Solenoid. The updated version was a larger diameter which requires a larger diameter bracket located on the transmission. If the updated bracket is not available the center hole can be enlarged with a dye grinder. This is possible, since the bracket shape or mounting position is not changed.  There are some cases when the ignition switch may not be working properly preventing power from being provided to the solenoid. Therefore, it may be necessary to verify power to the solenoid. There also are cases when the mechanism in the column may be seized preventing the shift selector from coming out of park. The cable can be removed from the column connector to help pinpoint the problem. With the cable removed if the shift selector will not move it could be a binding mechanism. In fact there is a Safety Recall from Chrysler related to this issue – click the following to see the recall letter sent out to many owners with affected vehicles. SAFETY RECALL G28 See the image below for the parts braekdown in the column. The Gear Shift Blocker bracket is the key component in the recall.


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8 Responses
  1. gary henson :

    Date: July 26, 2014 @ 10:24 pm

    I have a Dodge Dakota 2005 stuck in park and can’t get it out. Is there a recall and what can I do?

  2. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: July 27, 2014 @ 7:59 am

    Gary could be the exact problem that’s covered in the article above. If not could be in the shifter itself. There’s the one recall linked in the article. Good Luck.

  3. Kyle :

    Date: January 6, 2015 @ 2:49 am

    Please refer to this video as another option for this issue..Dodge Dakota stuck in park:

  4. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: January 6, 2015 @ 7:26 am

    Kyle, thanks for the video showing the parking paw sticking, preventing the shifter from coming out of park. I’m sure this will help a lot of Dodge owners to get out of park and prevent a tow bill.

  5. Jkcombs :

    Date: December 12, 2015 @ 10:30 am

    Thank you so much , you have saved me my sanity , who knew it would be such an easy fix

  6. Chris Thiel :

    Date: December 18, 2015 @ 2:04 pm

    Awesome video and saved me lots of money

  7. Steve :

    Date: February 8, 2016 @ 11:59 pm

    @Kyle, Thanks a ton for that solution Kyle. I’m literally 150 miles for the nearest Dodge dealership, and 30 miles from the nearest mechanic. I have never had this issue before with my 2002 Dakota, but it has been sitting a bit this winter. Sure enough after moving the boot to get a view, that tab was sticking. Simply turning the key on and off several times got it moving again, and got the truck out of park. A splash of WD-40 I’m sure will make sure it doesn’t stick again for a bit. Again a HUGE thanks.

  8. Roy :

    Date: January 21, 2017 @ 4:43 pm

    Kyle, I want to thank you so much for your advise. My wife wants to thank you because I have done what you suggested and I have calmed down. You have also saved me some $$$. Thanks again!

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