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2004 Taurus with AX4N transmission
After starting the car with the column shifter in the Park position; normally you put your foot on the brake, pull the column shifter back (towards yourself), select R or D and away you go.
I’m having an intermittent problem. Although I have my foot on the brake, I am not able to pull the column shifter back. It is locked, won’t move back . . . As if you didn’t have the brake applied.
With a few tries, foot on and off the brake, it will work normally for a while. But it is getting worse and I’m concerned it will strand me.
I suspect it’s something to do with the interlock with the brake. Anyone encountered this problem? and have a way to fix it?
All help is much appreciated, John Kenneth
 

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Check and see it the brake lights are on when this happens. There is a common failure of the brake light switch which controls the shift lever. Maybe either the switch or wiring harness to switch, RA and AutoZone has replacement parts.
 

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And then good to know the trick to putting it in gear without using the brake. Key to on but do not start. Then shift to "N" and start it there. Someone correct me it I got it wrong, but I have done it.
-chart-
 

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^^^^ Yup! Step 1: turn key to OFF position (first position past LOCK). Step 2: Put shifter in NEUTRAL. Step 3: Start car, put in D or R and off you go!

I have had brake light intermittent or total failures is several Fords over the years. Problems in my case were never the brake switch itself. The issue was always the wires to the switch breaking either at the switch connector or the wires braking internally inside the insulation, which were a PITA to to trace down.
 
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I would consider at least taking a glance at the linkage up under the steering wheel. Does everything otherwise feel good and smooth when it does shift?

I've never come across or even considered the brake interlock for shifting 🤔 That's a very interesting possibility to know.
 

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I just experienced this problem with my 2005 Taurus! I wired in a new Motorcraft brake light switch and still couldn’t get the shifter to come out of park after doing all that & I still don’t have any brake lights either! It was only after I replaced the switch in the steering column that the shifter finally moved like it should! Now I guess I’ll be tracing the wires from the new switch to try to find the break so I can regain the functionality of my brake lights!
 

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I have had brake light failure on a number of Fords over the years. In all cases, the problem was not the switch itself, but the wires going to the switch. The wires flex every time the brake is pressed, and after tens of thousands of times braking, the wires break. One time, wire broke off at the switch connector. Soldered it back on the connector, and slathered RTV Ultra Black over the "back of the connector in an effort to make a strain relief. Three other times, I have had wires from the switch connector break internally. Wires looked fine externally but were an open circuit from wire broken inside the intact insulation.
 

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I had the identical problem with my 2000 SE. The brake light switch has been bumped out of position and wasn't registering the position of the brake pedal correctly. I readjusted it and solved the problem.
 

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I know a lot about this part. The ability to shift out of park is controlled by the (BTSI) Brake Transmission Shift Interlock). solenoid. It is mounted on the steering column. When the car is in park and the key is on the solenoid is energized and locks in place by means of a powered metal hook that catches the shift detent paw and prevents it from moving. When you put foot on the brake the light circuit feeds the transistor in the solenoid and switches it off and the paw can then slide over the hook and into gear. The problem is most likely the brake light switch is intermittent or somewhere else in the brake light circuit. The solenoid is very robust and while it is possible there is an intermittency in the circuit board or the solenoid wire connector it is not likely, look at the brake lights. Word of warning it is not possible to overpower the solenoid, the column lever will break off first. Interesting story. When these first were installed (thanks runaway Audi) there were police departments that installed brake light shutoff switches on some of their patrol cars might have been dearborn. If you have the brake lights shut off you are not going any where from park. The solenoid can be replaced but the column will probably need to be dropped down.
 

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For wiring problem solving, check out Youtube:
Title: How to find a short in a modern car fast and easy.
By, Junky DIY guy......
Excellent info. Takes away the fear of electrical problems.
 

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^^^^ The problem with the brake lights is virtually never a SHORT CIRCUIT. Short circuits blow fuses. The brake light / shift interlock issue is an OPEN CIRCUIT issue either due to the wiring to the switch or the switch itself.
 
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I just experienced this problem with my 2005 Taurus! I wired in a new Motorcraft brake light switch and still couldn’t get the shifter to come out of park after doing all that & I still don’t have any brake lights either! It was only after I replaced the switch in the steering column that the shifter finally moved like it should! Now I guess I’ll be tracing the wires from the new switch to try to find the break so I can regain the functionality of my brake lights!
When you say you replaced "the switch in the steering column" what switch are you referencing?
 

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When you say you replaced "the switch in the steering column" what switch are you referencing?
The Brake Transmission Shift Interlock Solenoid in the steering column. But be very careful when dropping the steering column because I actually broke the metal hook off of the shift detent so now I have to fix that!
 
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