You should charge the dealer for your diagnosis...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a brand new automatic Toyota Corolla. It will not start AT TIMES. I have taken it back to the dealership twice and they cannot find the problem. They instructed me once to put it in Neutral and try to start it. It started in Neutral, and each time this happens, I now have to put it in Neutral to start it. Do you have any idea what the problem could be?

RAY: Yeah. The problem is your dealership, Jan. Even my brother can figure this one out.

TOM: Yeah. You need either a "Neutral safety switch", or a shifter linkage adjustment. The Neutral safety switch prevents you from starting your car unless the transmission is in Park or Neutral--that's so you don't ram through your garage door by accident when you turn the key. It sounds like your switch is defective. And it's easy to replace.

RAY: The other possibility is that the shift linkage is misadjusted. In that case, the transmission isn't going "far enough" into Park for the Neutral safety switch to recognize it's in Park. That's also easy to fix.

TOM: Tell these ding-a-lings to replace the Neutral safety switch and, if that doesn't fix it, adjust the shift linkage. And when they fix it, charge them their hourly labor rate for your diagnosis.

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