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Discussion Starter #1
..when I first start the engine, put my foot on the brake..the lock/release button on the shifter won't let me put it in gear..won't depress...than after maybe 10 seconds or more..it's ok..what's up?
 

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There is an interlock switch on the brake or clutch pedal. If that switch is sticky, it could have the effect you describe.
 

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Mine's been getting harder to operate too, first thing in the morning. I just lubed inside the T-handle via: key in/on (but engine not running), parking brake on, shifter in neutral (so button will depress), silicone spray with red tube --> into handle via top of the button, horizontally (depressed), and via the bottom of the button. Seems a little better, but will have to wait for a cold start in the future. I'll have to look at that "neutral safety switch" too to see if it's worn/sticky/etc; should also be a switch on the brake pedal for the brake lights.
 

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OK, it's not the neutral safety switch. I'm lookng at pages 142 and 143 of the FSM's "Electrical Wiring Diagram" volume for the 2000. It shows that the brake light ("Stop Light"; on brake pedal) switch is part of the circuit, as is a "Shift Lock Control" switch (located where?) and a "Shift Lock Solenoid" (where?). Also a "Key Interlock Solenoid" or two. And three power circuits. All feeding in/out of a "Shift Lock ECU". So if not a mechanical/lubrication issue in the T-handle, or the brake switch, it's going to be complicated! Anyone else diagnose and fix this stickyness of the auto shifter?
 

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To quote the FSM

"1. SHIFT LOCK MECHANISM
WITH THE IGNITION SW ON, WHEN A SIGNAL THAT THE BRAKE PEDAL IS DEPRESSED (STOP LIGHT SW ON) AND A SIGNAL THAT THE SHIFT LEVER IS PUT IN “P” POSITION (CONTINUITY BETWEEN P1 AND P OF THE SHIFT LOCK CONTROL SW) IS INPUT TO THE ECU, THE ECU OPERATES AND CURRENT FLOWS FROM TERMINAL 1 OF THE ECU " TERMINAL SLS+ OF THE SHIFT LOCK
SOLENOID " SOLENOID " TERMINAL SLS- " TERMINAL 4 OF THE ECU " GROUND. THIS CAUSES THE SHIFT LOCK SOLENOID TO TURN ON (PLATE STOPPER DISENGAGES) AND THE SHIFT LEVER CAN SHIFT INTO POSITION OTHER THAN THE “P”.

So in other words, the shift lock solenoid will only engage ( and unlock the shifter) if the brake pedal is pushed, and the transmission is in PARK. Both of these requirements are determined by the operation of switches.

We know the transmission switch must indicate PARK or the key would not have turned and allowed the engine to start. Next thing is we have to determine if the brake position switch is working properly.

Fortunately the same switch is used for the shifter interlock and to activate the brake lights. Next time the interlock doesn't allow you to shift, check to see if your brake lights are illuminating.

Once you have determined that both the PARK position sensor, and the brake light switch are functioning, then the problem is probably a defective shifter solenoid, or a solenoid that just needs a little cleaning.

As a workaround, you should be able to move the shifter out of the PARK position by using the emergency interlock override. This is probably a small hole located at the base of the shifter lever (possibly with a plastic cap covering it). Usually inserting an object (like a key) into the hole will bypass the interlock. I can't be more specific because I don't have a 4.1, but the owners manual should explain the procedure.
 

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As a workaround, you should be able to move the shifter out of the PARK position by using the emergency interlock override.
Thanks -- I found it earlier this evening via a Youtube video's reminder. Never had needed it before! On the 4.1 there a little plastic plug in the bezel just in front of the P on the shifter; the plug pries out easily and exposes the black override button.

Tried it this evening. Brake lights do activate, but still took a few seconds to get it to shift. Now I'm wondering if connectors are getting iffy from age -- I'll reset them (easy for the brake pedal's switch; not sure about the ECU near the shifter).
 

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Mine's been getting harder to operate too, first thing in the morning. ....... will have to wait for a cold start in the future.
Your profile does not include your location, but from your description the problem seems to be related to cooler temperatures. If you have seen the problem worsen as the temperatures have dropped, I think you may have a dirty/sticky solenoid.

A solenoid is an iron bar that is surrounded by an electrical coil. When voltage is applied to the coil, the resulting magnetic force causes the iron bar to move. As the bar moves it releases the locking mechanism in the shifter. You may have some sticky oil residue surrounding the iron bar. As the vehicle becomes warmer the thick residue becomes less viscous and the system works It could be that all you need is a little WD40 to unstick it.

In many cars you can hear the solenoid click as you push and release the brake pedal. Listen for this sound after your RAV has warmed up and the shifter is working normally.

I have attached the pertinent pages from the FSM which include a diagnostic procedure you may want to follow.
 

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Thanks! Have a bigger project elsewhere first, plus the holidays, but will report back here what I find/do ... eventually.

Car garaged, so cool but not cold first thing in the morning. But lots of dirt/crumbs under the console, so a stuck part makes sense.
 

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Just got in (as part of a bigger parts order) and replaced the brake light switch; no change. For others attempting this throw-parts-at-it approach, there are various versions of the brake light switch, e.g., mine also controls the factory cruise control. RockAuto had a variety of the switches available.

I pulled the bezel around the shifter, but unfortunately the solenoid is not exposed. It's been a long time since I removed the center console (if ever ...) -- what's the easiest, non-damaging way to get to the solenoid?
 

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Took it apart, lubed it, and now it's worse! :-(

I'm now thinking, yes, I need a new "shift lock ECU" box -- it has a solenoid within it. I don't see any external solenoids (like those shown on RockAuto), nor are a few OEM sites showing this black box that mounts under the left side of the automatic's shifter handle (and the handle's and the override's buttons push down white plastic pieces into this black box). Anyone know the part number of the shift lock ECU? (2000, Auto, AWD, factory cruise control)

The ECU box has five little tabs on three of its sides that allow its cover to be removed (after removing the box from the shifter). Inside is a PCB that's held-down by two little brass screws, but also the solenoid's two very fine/fragile leads that are soldered to the board and need to be unsoldered to fully remove the PCB. I shot some expensive lube into where I could in the box and on the shifter, but to no avail. Fortunately, after reassembling, the shifter still works via the override button.
 

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I would just disable the stupid thing. I had a minivan for years that had no interlock and it was fine. We never started it in gear or had any problems.
 

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Local Toyota dealer never responded, so found another via a recommendation on another Toyota-model forum. He responded very quickly. Expensive (about $225) part is on the way. Called "UNIT ASSY, SHIFT LOCK CONTROL" on a Toyota parts diagram.
 

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Got and installed it today. Works so far! :)

Part number was 33560-02010, and was white instead of the original black. Take your console off and research the proper parts before ordering -- there are different parts. I'll post pics of mine here in the future.
 

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Pics of this specific Shift Lock Control ECU

As promised. Again, check yours carefully before ordering parts! They do vary.

Original, as installed (that's the removed center console in the background):


New (white) vs. old (black), front and back:


 
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