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Nissan Repair/Altima won't shift out of park


QUESTION: Hi, I have had a mechanic work on this twice and the problem remains. If I use the manual button (to the left of the shifter), I can get it to shift, but it won't on its own. Sometimes it works for a period of time, other times it just won't work. My mechanic took apart the console, tightened up some wires that were loose, it worked for a while. Then I took it back, he thought it might be the Shift Control Unit in the dash, so he over rode that electrical part and forced the solenoid open making it a manual process. It now shifts fine but does so without the break depressed. This scares the crap out of me since I have little kids playing in the car. I told him I am not ok with this fix and he said he will need to replace the Shift Control Unit which is a $500+ part + labor (which involves tearing into the dash).

So, can you think of anything else it might be? I don't want to keep dumping money into something that "might" be wrong.


ANSWER: Hi Darren -

If there is no power going to the lock solenoid on the shifter when the brake is depressed, then I would check the fuse for the system. If not the fuse, then I am afraid it is the control unit.
However, I would shop around for a less expensive quote. Maybe look on line for the part.

If you do have power going to the shift solenoid, then it is the solenoid that needs replacing, which would be a lot less expensive.

Hope this helps -

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: But if the problem comes and goes, wouldn't that eliminate the possibility of a fuse issue? I would if a fuse is bad, it will stop working permanently.

Checking the solenoid itself is a great idea. If we rule it out however, do you feel like it is probably the control unit?

Regarding the cost of the control unit, is this something you can get outside of a dealer? My mechanic seemed to think not.

Thanks again.


Hi Darren -

That is true about the fuse, but I like to check it anyway to eliminate the possibility of a loose connector clip or something. It is an easy check and it be a waste to replace other components when it could be just the fuse or connection.

Yes, if we rule out the solenoid, then you can proceed to check the control unit. Simply check to see if you got power going in, and power going out. If no power going out with brake depressed, then replace the control unit.

I have seen these control unit sell on ebay for about $50, some less, but go for the newer ones. I have attached a photo so you know what it looks like.

Hope this helps -

Nissan Repair

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Calvin Iwashita


All general car repairs for all models of vehicles, except technicals (overhauls) on A/C systems and transmissions.


16 years as a car mechanic from 1974 to 1990, and still repair cars on the side.


High School and college graduate

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