The brake switch is the easier thing to check for, easier thing to fix, and
the first thing to rule out.
With someone in the car, have them press the brakes (With the car on,
failing to shift from park). Do the brake lights go on?
Can you Shift the car from 'lock' to 'off' (move key forward one click, such
that the steering wheel unlocks, but not so that the electronics fire up),
shift the car into Neutral and start normally?
Your friend really should get it repaired properly. If it
is the brake light switch, it is a very real safety problem
which may get someone seriously injured or killed. There are
other things that do not work including the brake lights and
proper disengagement of the transmission torque converter if
it is the brake light switch. Also, if the cruise control is
engaged for some reason, it will not disengage when the
brakes are applied resulting in the possibility of the
vehicle being difficult to stop. Don't cheap out with
someone's life - especially if it is mine!
Replacing the brake light switch isn't hard and the part doesn't cost much,
If you attempt to bypass the switch, e.g. wiggling the wires around the
switch or defeating the solenoid, and an accident occurs you might be found
guilty of contributing.
Again the switch is easy to replace and not expensive.
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