I'd be willing to bet you don't have any brake lights either. It's most
likely the BOO switch (Brake On Off). It's under the dash and is activated
by the brake pedal. These are very common failures. Ford, in fact, had a
recall on defective BOO switches, but I'm not sure the recall applies to
your specific car. The BOO switch locks the gear selector so that the brake
pedal must be depressed for the vehicle to be put in gear. It's a safety
If you want to drive your car with the defective switch, put the vehicle in
neutral before starting it. Then you can put it in any gear afterwards. Of
course, each time you put it in park, it'll require you to shut off the
engine, put it in neutral and restart it to get in gear again. Also be
aware that the brake lights won't work, which makes you a hazard to others
on the road.
The BOO switch is about a $35 part and most people can do it themselves if
they know what they're looking for.
If you look to the right of the gear shift, you will see a small round
button. Pry this out and use something like a dowel to push straight
down. Unless you switch is really stuck, this should override the
interlock and allow you to drive the car until you can get it repaired.
When this happened to my 1998 Escort, I didn't discover this until I had
removed the all covers. In my case, all I had to do was clean out the
previous owners dog or cat hair and lubricate the interlock parts.
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