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Gear selector hard to shift

05-10-2009, 11:50 AM
Hi, I have a Windstar 99 with a 3.8L engine, and the gear selector is very hard to move. From any gears, no matter which gear.

I press fully to the brake, I pull the gear fully, and it's hard to move. No matter if engine is running or not. I had in the past a 98 Windstar, and it was very smooth to change gear.

So something is wrong with the gear selector shifter. But it's not always hard to move. Sometime it's not so hard, sometime, it's almost impossible to move. Especially to reverse.

What could be the problem? I think it's something wrong with the linkage of the transmission. Maybe they're rusted and it has too much friction. But I'm not totally sure.

What it's the best thing to cure this problem? I have to change the linkage, lube-it, or what?

Someone here already have this kind of problems?

The car is 10 years old and has 143,000 miles. I got it from only 2 weeks, so I don't know how long it acts like that.


05-10-2009, 12:14 PM
It's possible that it's the Transmission Range Sensor ?
I just read the wiswind's page and it seems to be that...

05-10-2009, 09:40 PM
It would be easy enough to loosen the shift linkage at the range selector and see what remains of the "stiffness". Be sure to take note, perhaps mark, the relationship of center shaft and sensor in N position ... ya wanna be able to put it back exactly so. You expect most of the force required to move the shift lever to disappear when the linkage is loosened. If there is any significant resistance to movement remaining ... it must be in the steering column. Disassembly/lubrication needed?? This would be a really lucky outcome ... for I suspect the resistance is in the tranny and I don't know the solution for this.

05-10-2009, 11:41 PM
When I put it in drive, sometime it's in 2nd but indicate drive. Or I put in Reverse, but I'm in Neutral. I move a little bit at up, and I'm in Reverse.

Sometime, I'm unable to start the car in Park, because the car thinks that's I'm not in park. I'm obligate to move it in Neutral. It's why I think it's related to the neutral safety switch (Transmission Range Sensor).

But thanks for your advices 12Ounce.

05-11-2009, 08:27 AM
With those symptoms, you definitely have sensor alignment issues ... and maybe more. If you look closely at the sensor, you will see scribe marks built-in for alignment in the N (or is it P, I can't remember ... but you will figure it out) position. Correct this alignment before doing anything else.

05-11-2009, 10:27 AM
I had this problem and it turned out to be realy simple. There's a hole in the firewall that the shifter cable runs through, from there it goes through a plastic clip that mounts to a metal bracket attached to the transmission. From there it ends at the transmission range sensor, or whatever elctronic gizmo sits right on top the transmission.

For me, that little plastic clip had slipped off the metal bracket and shifting was totally erratic.

Just make sure that little plastic clip is seated on the bracket, you might have to rig it somehow to secure it.

Watch your foot on the inside of the firewall, behind the break pedal, if you kick that shifter cable just right the clip comes off the bracket.

What a POS, huh?

05-12-2009, 07:40 PM
Hopefully you don't have my problem, but when i had this symptom my tranny went on me around December last year. In my case, it wasn't too hard to shift but you could feel the stiffness as I shifted through the selector; especially on humid days. Then, one day the transmission started clunking off gear as in disengaging from drive then clunking back in again. This started as I was going to do the flush procedure at a 30k interval and was getting the supplies. Finally, the tranny went out and I had to get it rebuilt. Like I said, hope this is not your problem but beware of the transmission on these vehicles as they are prone to go out. Make sure to do the flush procedure every 20k-30k. Good Luck.

05-12-2009, 10:28 PM
Yes, I think it's not the same problem, in my case it's the Shifter range sensor or the sensor alignment or the clip... I have to check that. It's also a common issue on these vehicles.

I know also that these car suffers for bad transmission, such the Taurus and the Explorer. Cause it's the same transmission.

But I like this car so much, I buy it anyway. It's my second Windstar.
Anyway, I don't drive a lot. So it's not a problem for me.

I think your stiffness problem was a coincidance with your transmission problem. It was probably also the switch sensor. Your mechanic had probably replaced it when he has replaced your transmission, cause the parts are connected together. With the linkage also.

northern piper
05-14-2009, 08:37 AM
for sure check under the dash. There are 2 torx screws that hold a bracket on the assembly that will loosen periodically. Happened to my 2000 ws at about 150k km. Tighten that up and the gear selector cable works much better.

05-30-2009, 06:14 PM
Finally, I get time to work on this problem :wink:.

I tried to loose the cable, it was easy to shift when it was loosen. So the problem is not in the steering column.

I check the clip, it was fine. It sticks properly on the bracket.

I don't think that is an alignment issue, cause when I put drive, it's on drive. But sometime it's on 2nd, I just move just a little little bit and it's D.

The real problem it's when I want to put in reverse, it's really hard to do it. So I apply a lot of force, and I fall between P and R. Then I try again downside, I'm fall between R and N. It takes 6 try to reach the reverse.

What should I do? It's the TRS?

05-31-2009, 10:42 AM
Yesterday night, I just realized that my backup lamps didn't glow when I go backward. So I think it's the Transmission Range Sensor switch that is worn and rusty. Cause the backup lights are connected to the switch.

I'll replace the switch.

05-31-2009, 01:55 PM
I just checked the backup light bulbs and the fuse, they are all good. So it's really the switch.

05-31-2009, 03:51 PM
I have not had the difficult to shift I have no comment there.
Just to comment that the TRS is unit that does a LOT of things, lots of different contacts to be made.

05-31-2009, 04:07 PM
I have not had the difficult to shift I have no comment there.
Just to comment that the TRS is unit that does a LOT of things, lots of different contacts to be made.

In the 96 model, the shifter is more easy to shift that in the 2nd generation.

I think I've friction inside the switch, it's why it's hard to shift. Caused by the rust inside. And sometime it doesn't start on P. Plus backup lamp don't light up. So the differential diagnosis is the TRS.

06-05-2009, 02:24 PM
I've rapair my problem!!!... With oil.
I lubricate my TRS with 10W30 motor oil.
From the outside of the part.
Now it's soo easy to change gear. :smile:

Of course, the backup lamps still don't glow, cause it's a contact problem, but that doesn't matter.

Like 12Ounce said, it was a very lucky solution.

06-05-2009, 07:16 PM
Given that this unit can cause transmission issues, I would consider replacing it.
Better to plan the replacement and do it on your schedule then to have to do it when you only have 1st and 2nd gear......when it is not convenient.

06-05-2009, 09:57 PM
Yes, I'll replace it. I'll also treat it against rust, so it will last forever.

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