Prius Won't Stay in Gear

Discussion in 'Toyota Prius Family' started by msirach, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    I am picking up our 2008 Prius with 42,000 miles in Charlottesville, VA to drive home. Our son has had it for three years and recently purchased his own car.

    I tried to drive it from the parking lot yesterday and it would jump out of gear after about 1 second in reverse. I held the shifter down in reverse and backed it out of the parking space after the battery performed a recal. It would not shift into park at all unless the power button was pushed to shut the car off. It did the same thing in forward, so I pulled it back into the parking space.

    The interior of the car was extremely hot. I could barely hold the steering wheel.It is a black car and the ambient temp was in the 90's.

    This morning our son came to pick us up at the hotel in it and it operated normally. We drove it back to his parking lot and left it while we did the tourist stuff today in his car.

    It sat in the parking lot until about 4:00 and I decided to fill it with fuel and put air in the tires for a road trip.:D.

    Once again, it would not stay in drive. I held it in drive for about 20 miles with the AC running on high. The interior cooled down considerably, but it still would not stay in drive. I left it again for about 45 minutes and tried it again when we left for dinner. It drove perfectly. I had Autozone hook the OBD reader up to it and it didn't show any codes. The voltage was checked and he said it was at 13.1v. The car will be 5 years old in September and I was suspecting the battery. There wasn't a battery for it anywhere in Charlottesville, so we will head home tomorrow with the original battery.

    I searched the internet last night and found the same issue in a lot of Gen II and in some Gen III. The repairs for the issue were sketchy, but some had said the dealerships had changed out the shifter and repaired the problem.

    The battery will be changed out when I get home unless I find one on the way home.

    Any ideas?
  2. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    First thing is of course the 12V! Insure there is nothing hanging on the control handle. One day the cord from my GPS wrapped around the control and it shifted out of gear. Once I removed the cable all was well. If none of the above then it may need a new controller. The shift lever is expensive [I think $500] so look for a used part. Please pass on the final correction for this problem.It is good info to have? H
  3. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    I will definitley post the results. I haven't seen where anyone has dug into the issue themselves. I imagine it is only a couple of micro switches. We have driven about 300 miles today without any issues.
  4. ALS

    ALS Super Moderator Staff Member

    It could also be a heat related failure. I have an older Scan Gauge on the dash of my Volvo also a black vehicle. I had to make a little house out of heavy white paper to protect the unit from the sun. It would stop working due to a heat build up caused by the sun shining on its black case.

    The dash could be heating up enough to cause a problem with the electronics in the shifter assembly. Start with a cheap fix, use a sun shield thus blocking the sun from heating up the interior using your dash as a heating element, and see if it helps.
  5. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    Sounds like your problem may have corrected itself? You may find out more on priuschat? H
  6. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    I cover mine with a baseball cap when I park the car. It protects it from the sun AND seems to deter thieves looking for a GPS or radar detector. Wish I could hide/disguise the cable a bit better , though. And with the Cvic's acre of windshield it DOES get hot up there when driving.
  7. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    I made it home this evening without any problems over the 700 mile trip. There were several starts and stops throughout the day. I'm still not convinced of a shifter problem. I'm going to explore it a bit more.
  8. bestmapman

    bestmapman Fighting untruth and misinformation

    Mike when you say "out of gear" do you mean goes to "N" or something else.
  9. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    Did it sit idle for a while?.. maybe the nimh battery needed to be waken up.
  10. diamondlarry

    diamondlarry Super MPG Man/god :D

    I've had this happen once before and the cause was what Harold mentioned; my Scangauge cord was laying behind the shifter. When it happened to me, I was able to hold the shifter and keep it in gear until I figured out what was going on. Yours sounds more like a heat and/or 12V related issue.
  11. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Mike:

    Any updates on the diagnosis or fix?

  12. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    The new Optima Yellow Top is in and the problem persists. It only happens when the car is very hot. If I have the sunshade in the front window, it is usually ok. The black car soaks up a lot of heat. It is a plastic dust shield in the shifter that distorts. This weekend, I'm going to take it apart and trim it.
  13. ALS

    ALS Super Moderator Staff Member

    I'm glad it is a simple and cheap fix. Nothing worse than buying a used car and finding out you have a several hundred dollar repair on your hands.
  14. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    It's worse than that. :D Our son had it for 3 years of the 5 we have owned it. I called the Toyota dealership about the shifter and the hatch release rubber turning into a sticky goo and there is not a recall issue on either yet even though it is a "known" issue.
  15. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    Heck, I am thrilled when a car repair only costs a few hundred dollars.
  16. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    This repair cost a whopping $000.00 I am thrilled to say. I removed the shifter this morning, inspected, disassembled, took numerous pics, modified and reassembled.

    I left in the full sun this afternoon and I just took it on a second drive and worked correctly. It was easy fix and as soon as I ensure that it is ok, I will post details and pics.
  17. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Mike:

    Bringing this one back up for the pics please ;)

  18. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Wow-just cerebral and elbow grease fix!!
    Happy ending!
    All Prius folks appreciate your efforts-since a fair number of us plan to keep theirs until it turns to dust.
    -will check frequently for write up pictures-and paper copy it for 2006 Prius folder
    thanks Mike-(misirach)

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