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5th & 6th Generation (2002-2006 & 2007-2011) Toyota Camry Discussion for years: 2002-2006 & 2007-2011 Topics of discussion range from fuel economy, safety, modifications, performance all involving America's favorite family car, the Toyota Camry.

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Old 01-15-2013, 07:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Transmission problem

Hey all. My mom owns a 2002 camry LE (4 cylinder, automatic). This evening she tells me the transmission is stuck in park. I get there and she's parked on a steep incline (her driveway). The shifter moves freely from park all the way down to low 1, but the car remains stuck in park. I popped the hood and I'm seeing the cable moving up and down as she moves through the gears. I may have been looking at it backwards according to this picture:



The thing that I can confirm moving is the bottom left of that picture. It's a little lever that goes up and down just after a boot. I can put my hand on the black cable cover and feel it moving as she moves the shifter up and down. I can't confirm 33880A (top left) because I don't know where that goes. Everything I've googled suggests that it has to do with the cable linkage between the shifter and the tranny, but I THINK I've ruled that out?

I changed her tranny fluid and filter (OEM) about 10k miles ago, which was either the first time or the first time in a long time that had been done. It's got about 160k miles on it and it's currently right around freezing outside in Texas where we rarely see that (in case the cold is a factor). Does this mean her transmission has an internal problem?

To top all of this off, the car is parked behind my dad's truck so they don't have a vehicle as long as her's is stuck behind his. Even if we can just disable the parking brake temporarily to get it out of the way that would be useful information.

Has anyone experienced this and/or found a fix? She'll probably be selling the car for scrap before too long, but for now it's all she's got.

Thanks!
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Sounds to me like the cable is broken if it's moving freely while in park on an incline.
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Sounds to me like the cable is broken if it's moving freely while in park on an incline.
But would the metal S bracket at the bottom near the tranny be moving if the cable was broken? I can feel the cable moving in it's little black sleeve.
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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So the engine just revs and no motion happens? Does the engine rev free or does it get loaded down?

I wonder if the slope caused the parking pawl to stick and not release. I've never seen this happen however.
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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It's disengaged revving. No motion at all in any gear and seemingly no load (though it's not my car so I'm not entirely sure what it SHOULD feel like).
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Neutral safety switch ????????????
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Neutral safety switch ????????????
Who's the what's it?
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:07 AM   #8 (permalink)
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If the gear indicator lights are correct then the NSS is working. that's the thing the end of the cable where the Z lever is connected to. It sends electrical signals to the ECU about the gear position you selected. This is what it looks like:
http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/more...003&cc=1434102

I'd think the car will at least roll if you're in anything other than Park - unless the parking pawl is still engaged. Often the problem with the parking pawl is that it doesn't stay engaged, and then the car rolls away (always apply the parking brake!), not the other way around. But you never know.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:59 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The neutral safety switch prevents the car from being started in gear !

It also presents allot of screwy symptoms depending on the failure mode of the electrical contacts inside it.

I do not want to mislead you.

I would get a tow truck to get the car off the steep incline and on level ground.

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Old 01-16-2013, 05:41 PM   #10 (permalink)
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33880A is the floor shift parking lock cable. It controls a switch in the steering column that allows the car to start in park with the brakes applied and allows movement of the floor shifter. Will the car start? The floor shifter activates the transmission control shift cable which is connected to 35772a. That is the P/N position switch. There is an index mark on the switch and one on the lever that are adjusted to line up.You might remove the splash shields and see if the index marks are aligned. You could also carefully block the rear wheels,jack the front wheels off the ground and see if you can move the shift lever out of park. I realize this is extremely dangerous due to the car being parked on an incline but your only other choice is to get a tow service. These transmissions have diagnostic and fail safe funtcions. You didn't mention a MIL being illuminated so the transmission must have been functioning ok when the car was parked. Don't try anything I have suggested if you are not mechanically inclined. Be safe. Regards
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:54 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Well I jacked with it enough to get it into reverse. I grabbed that switch/level (35772a above) and shook the heck out of it. Then I got in the car and pretty much rammed the gear shifter up and down pretty fast. It made reverse momentarily that way because I could feel the drivetrain engage. I did it again and got the car out of the "park lock", which is what I've been referring to it as. Once it got down off the incline it shifted into drive no problem. My mom took it down to her mechanic of choice and it's officially out of my hands now.

He told her that the transmission fluid was almost non-existant (even though I checked the dipstick and it looked good). He also told her that she had almost no oil in the block. So I'm guessing if he's not blowing smoke that there wasn't any pressure in the transmission fluid to provide the force to shift it. That's all I've got. I've never tinkered with transmissions, but it's her long-time mechanic, so it's in their hands now. We know she's been burning oil/coolant out the tailpipe because of some kind of block defect on early 5th gens leading to a gasket leak. The car's 10 years old now with 160k miles, so she'll probably be hopping into a newer Camry before too long.

Thanks for the assistance all. I tried searching, but decided to post a new thread when I hit page 5 of "how do I change the transmission fluid?" posts. I'm not on here very often, except when a family member's car needs fixing, but ToyotaNation has always been very helpful. Hopefully my updating this post will help someone else in the future.
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:39 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Glad you got it fixed. Surprised the cable wasn't broken, but, that's good.
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:41 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by ceri View Post
Well I jacked with it enough to get it into reverse. I grabbed that switch/level (35772a above) and shook the heck out of it. Then I got in the car and pretty much rammed the gear shifter up and down pretty fast. It made reverse momentarily that way because I could feel the drivetrain engage. I did it again and got the car out of the "park lock", which is what I've been referring to it as. Once it got down off the incline it shifted into drive no problem. My mom took it down to her mechanic of choice and it's officially out of my hands now.

He told her that the transmission fluid was almost non-existant (even though I checked the dipstick and it looked good). He also told her that she had almost no oil in the block. So I'm guessing if he's not blowing smoke that there wasn't any pressure in the transmission fluid to provide the force to shift it. That's all I've got. I've never tinkered with transmissions, but it's her long-time mechanic, so it's in their hands now. We know she's been burning oil/coolant out the tailpipe because of some kind of block defect on early 5th gens leading to a gasket leak. The car's 10 years old now with 160k miles, so she'll probably be hopping into a newer Camry before too long.

Thanks for the assistance all. I tried searching, but decided to post a new thread when I hit page 5 of "how do I change the transmission fluid?" posts. I'm not on here very often, except when a family member's car needs fixing, but ToyotaNation has always been very helpful. Hopefully my updating this post will help someone else in the future.
Transmission fluid can be hard to read. I suspect the mechanic is correct with no fluid.
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:58 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Sounds like the Camry is on the way out. At least it moves now.
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:43 PM   #15 (permalink)
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What you did by physically moving that lever was to pull the parking pawl out of engagement enough to let the shifter move the lever into reverse. Parking pawls are flimsy arrangements. I always park by putting the transmission in neurtral,apply the parking brake and then selecting park. That way, the weight of the car is on the parking brake and not the pawl.Regards
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