The PT Cruiser Won't Shift

by TJ Hinton
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Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Before beginning any invasive diagnostic procedures on your 2010 PT Cruiser, eliminate the easy-to-check items first. Inspect the level and condition of the automatic transmission fluid, and correct as necessary. If your "Check Engine" light is on, have the car scanned by a Chrysler-specific scanner for diagnostic trouble codes. Since many of the internal transmission components are electrical and controlled by the transmission control module, if one of these is causing the problem, a DTC will be set that will better pinpoint the problem for you.

Shift Lever Will Not Move

Your Cruiser uses a shift-interlock system to prevent you from moving the shifter when it may be unsafe to do so, such as shifting with the ignition off, or when shifting out of Park without pressing and holding the brake pedal first. To adjust the shift interlock, use a ratchet and Allen driver to remove the shift lever set screw located on the shifter handle, just below the shift position release button. Remove the center console retainer screw at the rear of the console, and lift the console out of the way. Remove the shifter bezel screws, and remove the bezel. Locate the interlock cable adjuster at the end of the cable housing. Using a flat screwdriver, pry up on the lock then press the lock back down until it is completely seated on the cable housing. Test the operation of the shifter. Install the bezel and tighten the screws securely. Install the center console and tighten the retainer screw securely. Install the shifter handle on the shift lever. Torque the shift lever set screw to 17 inch-pounds, using an inch-pound torque wrench and Allen driver.

Lever Moves But No Shift

The shift lever is bound to the transmission gear selector by the shift cable. To adjust this cable, place the shifter in the "Park" position, then verify that the transmission is in Park by trying to roll the car both forward and backward. Remove the shift handle, center console and bezel. Locate the shift cable adjuster at the end of the shift cable, just forward of the lever. Using a ratchet and socket, loosen the adjuster locknut. Find the transmission shift lever at the other end of the shift cable on top of the transmission. Move the lever to the "Park" position, if necessary, then torque the adjuster locknut to 70 inch-pounds. Ensure that the engine will only start with the shifter in the "Park" or "Neutral" position to verify the adjustment. Install the bezel, center console and shifter handle.

Electronic Controls

A number of electronic devices can cause the transmission to fail. The transmission range sensor and pressure switch sends information to the transmission control module, and along with input from the powertrain control module, the TCM optimizes the shift timing. A number of shift solenoids actuate the valve body by controlling the flow of fluid through the transmission, and when the solenoids fail, they will prevent the transmission from engaging in one or more gears. These components are monitored and when they fail they will produce a DTC that will set your "Check Engine" light. A scan will usually identify these failed components.

Manual Transmission Shifter Adjustment

As with the automatic transmission, the shift lever is bound to the transmission by a shift cable and a bad adjustment can prevent proper gear engagement. Remove the shifter knob, boot and center console, then use a ratchet and socket to loosen the cable adjuster. Allow the spring-loaded components to relax into their neutral positions, then torque the adjuster screw to 70 inch-pounds while ensuring that the components remain relaxed. Test the shifter, then install the center console, boot and knob.

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