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93 Ford Escort wont shift out of park, wont start

08-31-2010, 04:13 PM
Hello. I am brand new to this, and someone who knows very little about cars so Im hoping someone here can help me out, or atleast point me in the right direction.

I have a 93 Ford Escort LX. It has been sitting in the garage for about 3 months. I went to start it up the other night, just to let it run for a little bit since its been sitting for so long. It started up fine, but the shifter wouldn't move out of park. I turned off the car, started it up again, and still wouldn't move. I turned the car off and then on one more time and still stuck. I then tried starting the car again, and it wouldn't start...and still wont start!

As for the engine, I tried getting a jump but that didn't work. I have no clue other than the battery is done for. Im wondering if the engine not starting has something to do with the shifter, even though it started up fine 3 times.

And as for the shifter, i have no idea. I've tried the emergency override button but it dosen't do anything. Its an automatic transaxle gearshift.

Id like to know any ideas on why these problems are occuring before I take it to the shop. Oh, and how the heck do you get a car towed thats stuck in park and in a small garage???

Please help me out!!
thank you thank you thank you in advance!!!!

08-31-2010, 04:43 PM
The first thing to look are the brake lights. If they don't work you won't be able to shift out of park. Check the stop fuse and if it is all right I suspect the brake light switch above the brake pedal is bad. If you have brake lights the next thing to do would be to get the shift interlock override to work. You should be able to shift out of park when you insert a key or slot screwdriver in the override slot. You say it won't start. Do you mean the starter isn't turning or do you mean the starter is turning it over, but it won't start? There is a neutral safety switch on the shift linkage that keeps it from starting unless it is in park or neutral. If you have brake lights then the most likely cause for it to be stuck in Park is that the shift interlock solenoid under the console is out. Still, you should be able to override it with the shift lock release. How old is the battery? If it's 5 years or older its time to replace it. Does the starter work at all or is it completely out. If it's doing nothing at all I suspect the problem is with the neural safety switch. Make sure you press hard into the override slot. It should come out of park whether or not the brake lights work. It's a manual overide and should work.

08-31-2010, 05:10 PM
Thank you for the awesome quick response!!!!!

The brake lights work.

Shift interlock override? Is that the same thing as the emergency override button on the shift console? This emergency override button is not really a button. Its a rectangular sliding button that you are just sopposed to slide down. The manual says nothing about inserting a key or screwdrive in there.

"shift interlock solenoid under the console is out. Still, you should be able to override it with the shift lock release." Is there more than one override button??? Im kinda confused. Sorry.

The car dosent start: I put the key in, turn the ignition, and nothing. The only thing I hear is one quick sound, something like a click. The radio works, lights work, ect.

Im pretty sure the battery is atleast 5 years old or more.

08-31-2010, 06:54 PM
Okay. The later models have a slot you stick a screwdriver in. Turn your headlights on and hit the starter. If they go dim the problem is the battery. If they don't change brightness when you hit the starter the problem is the shift interlock keeping the starter from engaging.
Could you do this and get back to us?

08-31-2010, 07:36 PM
Just did it. The lights do not dim.

08-31-2010, 08:28 PM
Theres nothing wrong with the battery. The shift interlock is keeping the starter from engaging. What's keeping it from shifting out of park and keeping it from starting is the same thing---the shift interlock. If you want to get it towed to someplace to get it fixed, I pretty sure that they can put a dolly under the front of the car to get it out of the garage, then they can lift it by the front and tow it to a repair facility.

08-31-2010, 08:50 PM
thanks for all the help!! talked to my mechanic. he is gonna make a house call next week and check it out. Maybe he can find a way to get it out of park so that I atleast dont have to get it towed. i'll post when i know.

09-01-2010, 06:42 AM
The shift interlock being sticky is possibly because someone spilled a soft drink onto the console years ago. I have had that with two of my Escorts; I have 3 now, all 2nd gens like yours. If you ever decide to take the console (the part around the shifter) off, its not hard to wire the shift interlock in the 'free' position. Then you dont have to put your foot on the brake before taking it out of park, it works even if the battery is dead.

I learned to drive in old farm trucks from the mid 30's, so Im used to not having interlocks.

10-11-2011, 10:16 AM
I have similar problem. Was told to look for other things, but here is the scenario. Wentout to go to bank the other morning (3 and 1/2 weeks ago) and all was fine, came home and parked. Went out 2 hours later to move the vehicle before the ticket man cam by and nothing, so shifted it to neutral and pushed the car into the motel parking lot across the street, went to ask wife if she had experienced same problem lately and she hadn't. So I dig out my Haynes manual and check the troubleshooting section and nothing, so figuring it was a battery or battery terminals problem, I cleaned the posts and terminals and put the battery on a charger for 3 hours. Went to go to work after that 3 hours and reconnected everything but still nothing, had to get a ride to work and was late. Anyways, came back to it the next morning and it fired right up, so was like wtf??? Two days later took wife to appointment at hospital, came out and it did same thing, she wiggled the key and tried again, it started. It was fine for four days and then I went to run some errands and it wouldn't start after my last stop. I checked fuses and fusible links, checked the relays on the firewall on the passenger side, got towed home and pulled the starter to have it checked. It checked out fine, I came back, reinstalled it, fired the car up, shut it off and tried to refire the car, nothing, pulled starter back off and checked to see if I had damaged it somehow, went and had it rechecked, this time by a different parts store and it checked out fine. They sugested a battery problem. So I took the battery and had it tested, one dead cell,so borrowed a known good battery out of friends' extra car (he started the car with the battery in my presence) so I tried it in mine and still nothing. Used the wiring schematic in the Haynes manual to try to isolate the problem after trying to use a remote started switch to bypass the ignition in case that was the problem and still nothing. Thought I had it narrowed down to the EECM (engine control module) or the nuetral safety switch. Went to local U-Pull it yard and pulled both units off of totally different cars (same year, make and mdel as mine) to alleviate the same problem (in case both had gone bad at same time) but to no avail. My other friend said his soon to be ex-wife had same problem with her car and it was an anti-theft device that had gone bad. I looked iin the Haynes manual for my 1992 ford escort LX wagon and it says nothing about an anti-theft device. So I looked it up on line and was brought to these forums as well as parts houses on-line that carry an anti-theft relay, problem is, I don't know wher it might go, it doesn't look like any of the relays I have looked at in this car.

Anyone got suggestions? If you do and would rather email them to me, you can email them to my using my screen name here as part of the email addy. Thanks in advance.

10-12-2011, 07:09 PM
The ignition switches on Ford Escorts give problems after enough years and miles. Intermittent non-starting is one of the common symptoms. If this if the case, you can work around it to see if that is what it is. Run an insulated wire from the small 'push-on' terminal on top of the starter, (you can usually get the terminal off, insert a wire, and push the regular terminal back on). The other end of the wire you locate close to the positive terminal of the battery. When it wont start with the key, leave the ignition turned on, open the hood, (with the shifter in park or a manual trans for SURE in neutral). Touching the wire to the + terminal on the battery should make the starter crank the motor, and it will be running. Be Real Careful, since this bypasses the neutral safety interlocks.
If it then starts each time, its likely a bad ign. swith. A common problem. The Escort ignition switch assembly is in two parts. One is the keylock part, the other is just the electrical switch. This part isnt too expensive (~$30), can be removed by dropping the lower clamshell of the steering column cover, and working the phillips screws out - you will need a right angle type phillips screwdriver. You can also just work the two connectors off of the electrical part of the switch, and plug them into a new switch held in your hand. Then using a small screwdriver, you can use it to turn on the ignition and start the car.
The entire ignition switch would cost slightly over $100, and to replace the old one you have to get the two 'anti-theft bolts undone from around the steering column. I have used a cold chisel to tap the rim of the bolts, to make them turn to looseness. Any Escort with its original ignition switch would still have only one key. If it has two keys, someone has already replaced the original switch. A locksmith can get the new keylock to work with the original key, but its more $$ than I like to spend.
Good Luck

10-13-2011, 03:54 AM
Yes I am aware of the ignition switch issue, in fact I replaced mine not to long ago (the electical portion) with a brand new $60 replacement (lifetime warranty) so if I can get it to start by either that method that you described or by jumping the wires that connect to the switch itself, then I will need to locate myt receipts and get a free replacement.

10-27-2011, 09:17 AM
The shift interlock being sticky is possibly because
someone spilled a soft drink onto the console years ago. I have had that with
two of my Escorts; I have 3 now, all 2nd gens like yours. .............

Glad I have a manual trans. There was drink spilled down inside my console as
well. This problem certainly couldn't have anything to do with those cup droppers...
whoops... I mean holders though. :wink:

Thanks to you, this thread is absolutely golden. Be great to link to... :sunglasse

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