I had a similar problem recently with my 2000 Taurus SE: it was getting more
and more difficult to get it out of park. I thought it was going to be the
brake on-brake off switch but it turned out to be the plug that went into the
switch instead. Once the plug was replaced, everything was beautiful again.
What I didn't think about was that the brake lights wouldn't work if the switch
(or in this case the plug) was crapped out. I don't know how long I was driving
around like that... the shifter had been stiff for a while.
[This followup was posted to alt.autos.ford and a copy was sent to the
The brake switch, in addition to controlling the brake lights, also
controls a solenoid that unlocks the shifter. This is the safety that
requires you to step on the brake before shifting out of Park.
When it's acting up, try to see if somebody can check the brake lights
(or if you can see a reflection). If they aren't working, then the
solenoid won't be getting a signal. Otherwise, you may have a solenoid
that is going bad and getting stiff when it's cold.
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