• Published on | Sep 01, 2012 | by Chris Osborn

Just call me Al Bundy

Saturday morning I jumped in the Magnum to go to the grocery store. I started it up and went to put it into reverse and the shifter wouldn't budge. I tried a few things to free it like rocking the car and pulling harder on the shifter but I didn't want to break it. I tried pushing the secret pink release inside the cover, nothing. Fine, I'll just take the Ranger instead. But the battery in the Ranger was dead! "Of course." No problem, I can jump start it with the jump start kit. Nope, battery dead in that too. "Of course."

A quick Google search turned up that this problem with the Magnum (and Charger and Chrysler 300) is extremely common. I found several posts about a "screwdriver trick" that would get you going. Gotta use a screwdriver to start the Dodge You remove the inner bezel around the shifter and you can poke a screwdriver in the top and press down on the broken piece and get the car into gear. I tried it out and it worked. Since the grocery store is not far I decided to go for it and go shopping. If I couldn't manage to get back into gear to get home it was a short walk and I could come back with more tools. I have to say though, I felt like Al Bundy since I had to use a screwdriver to drive the Dodge!

The one thing every post had in common is that in order to repair the problem you were going to have to tear out pretty much the entire center console, remove the shifter assembly, and take it apart. Whether you repaired the plastic pink thingy or replaced it with an expensive machined metal part, the amount of work involved seemed excessive. I was pretty sure if I could just get the outer shifter bezel off I could probably find a workaround that didn't require taking the entire center console out.

After getting in there I was able to come up with a very simple fix which doesn't require tearing out the entire center console. It only took me about 15 minutes to do this. You don't even need to take the car out of park!

Flange bearing and spring. The large spring wasn't used. You'll need two parts to fix it, a 3/4x1/16 nylon flange bearing and a 4"x5/16 compression spring. I got them both from Orchard Supply Hardware. The flange bearing is used to prevent the spring from binding up between the cable stop and the cable holder, which could prevent you from turning the key to off.

Spring fitted to flange bearing You'll want to fit the spring over the flange bearing. You might need to uncoil the spring slightly at one end. After you have it fit, use some needle nose pliers to squeeze two loops together at a time working your way down the spring. It will make it slightly shorter and easier to compress when you go to install it.

Remove the outer shifter bezel Next you need to lift off the outer shifter bezel. Remove the two screws from under the rubber tray below the ash tray. At the rear of the bezel you'll need to pry it straight up. There's nothing that needs to be released, it's just stuck in there with trim clips which are a very tight friction fit. I slowly pried it up with a screwdriver being careful not to break it.

Disconnecting the ignition cable Once you have the shifter bezel off you can see the cable that comes down from the ignition switch. Put in the key and turn it only to ACC, don't go to ON or start the engine. The cable will be released and you can grab it and pull it towards the rear of the car and lift it up and out. I was able to do it with my fingers but a pair of needle nose pliers works too.

Holding the spring in place to put the cable back Fit the nylon flange and spring assembly over the cable. You'll need to compress the spring a bit so you can get a pair of needle nose pliers onto the end of the cable with about half an inch or so sticking out. While holding the cable with the pliers, reach in and fit the cable back into the pink piece.

Finally test that you can turn the key to off and remove it. If you can't get the key out then the tension on the spring is too much and you may need to compress it more.

That's it! The only issue I can see with this is if for some reason someone else needs to get in there is they are going to wonder what the heck is going on. It's a little harder with the spring on there to unhook the cable from the pink thingy, but it's still entirely doable as I had to do it a few times to take these pictures.

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