Anyone ever had their car stuck in Neutral?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by greenmountain9, Dec 8, 2009.

  1. greenmountain9

    greenmountain9 New Member

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    I had a peculiar thing happen in my 05 Prius this morning... It was -11 degrees F when I woke up, so I was sure to give my car several minutes to warm up before I attempted to leave. After about 5-6 minutes of idling I shifted the car into reverse to back up and then realized it shifted itself back into Neutral. After several attempts, the gear continued to revert back to neutral everytime I tried to put it in Reverse, not allowing me to back up!

    Note: I read another post where the actual gearshift was getting stuck due to cold weather, but in my case the shifter/joystick was not getting stuck, but the actual gear mode would jump back to neutral after about 1 second of being in reverse.

    I was finally able to initiate Reverse by holding the gear shifter down. Then when I proceeded to drive forward, the same thing began to happen in Drive mode. The only way I could stay out of neutral and accelerate was by holding the shifter down with my hand!

    Has anyone else experienced this before? After driving down the road for another 3-4 minutes, I was finally able to release the shifter and the car stayed in Drive, which makes me think it was related to the cold temps and the car just needed some time to warm up.

    If anyone has any feedback on this, it would be appreciated. Not sure if this warrants a trip to the dealer to have it checked out (still about 10,000 miles of warranty left) or if it's probably due to the cold weather.

    And yes, we do get sub-zero temps in California. It's not all palm trees and sandy beaches.

    Thanks
     
  2. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    Yes, but after a couple of gear shift attempts it worked, and has not happened again so I completely forgot about the episode until you reminded me. Sorry I cannot provide further details.
     
  3. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    That ain't right. Get thee and thine to a dealer while it's still under warranty [whups, but it isn't any more].

    By The Way, why were you warming it up?
     
  4. greenmountain9

    greenmountain9 New Member

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    I was warming it up because when its that cold it takes awhile for the heat to warm up the interior and defrost the windshield. Plus, it gives the battery a bit of time to warm up, or for the engine to charge the battery a little, which I've always assumed is a good thing for a Prius, especially in cold weather. Am I wrong about this?

    And thanks for the advice, I suppose I should take it in... but i'm almost certain the problem won't happen at the dealership.
     
  5. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    The problem is with the shifter lever. Something must have been sticking due to the cold. Even though the lever moves, the electrical switching portion can stick.

    Tom
     
  6. Ct. Ken V

    Ct. Ken V Active Member

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    greenmountain9,

    The next time you're due for some more cold weather before the remaining 10,000 miles of warranty is up, leave your Prius at the dealership overnight in an easily accessible spot that won't be in anybody's way, then take the fob home with you. Show up the next morning in another car & take the fob to the service manager/writer & go out to your car with him in tow. Have him get in & try to move it forward or backwards & see what happens next. Hopefully it will happen for him (so they can't claim "couldn't reproduce symptom") so you will then be able to get your sticky shifter assembly replaced.

    Ken (in Bolton,Ct)
     
  7. greenmountain9

    greenmountain9 New Member

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    Thanks, Ken. I think I'll take it in and try to explain what has happened. But, unfortunately I live about 45 minutes away from, and 2,000 feet above, the nearest dealer, so it's usually quite a bit warmer down there. But they may be able to take a look and see if they can find anything wrong with the shift lever or shift assembly.

    And tonight is supposed to be just as cold as last night, so I'll see how the shifter behaves in the morning tomorrow. Got my figures crossed.

    Thanks everyone :)
     
  8. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

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    Yep, report the problem right away so if it isn't resolved but recurs outside warranty you can take in the paperwork to show you complained of the problem inside warranty but it was unresolved because the dealer's mechanics were unable to reproduce the symptoms. It may even be a known issue and they may just install a new shifter.
     
  9. Boo

    Boo Boola Boola Member

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    It's never happened to me here in NYC. But I've also never experienced -11 degrees F temperatures before (where in California do you get that???).

    Like others have suggested, I'd get it into the dealer while you're still under the 60 months/60,000 miles powertrain warranty.
     
  10. bestmapman

    bestmapman 04, 07 ,08, 09, 10 and 16 Pri

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    Truckee is in the Sierra Nevada mountains on I-80. California is a pretty big state, and has a wide variety of climates. It has both the highest and lowest elevations in the lower contiguous 48 states.
     
  11. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    Comfort and visibility (defrosting) are more than sufficient reasons to warm it up. But the car itself doesn't need it; the best way to do that is as with any car, by driving it gently for the first minute.
     
  12. BAllanJ

    BAllanJ Active Member

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    I haven't driven in really cold stuff yet (ie not colder than, say -10C) but I'd have to say that the defrost works well right away with no warmup required. As to the comfort... I'm no colder sitting in the car waiting for it to warm up than I am driving it when it's warming up... and I would expect it warms faster while working. If you mean turning it on and waiting in the house while it warms.... argh.... don't do that.
     
  13. JimboK

    JimboK One owner, low mileage

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    My vote would be for a problem with the shift lever. I've seen a small handful of failure reports. See these threads for more:

    http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-ii-prius-main-forum/64071-gear-shift-keeps-returning-n.html
    http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-ii-prius-technical-discussion/42044-knob-costs-700-replace.html
    http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-ii-...ing/65102-how-replace-2g-gearshift-lever.html

    Problem is, you might be out of warranty. Your profile says your car is a 2005. This part would fall under the bumper-to-bumper warranty of 3 years, 36K miles. Unless you have an extended warranty, you'll probably have to foot the bill. If that's the case, look closely at the third link above. You might consider a DIY job if you're even a little mechanically inclined.

    I love your area, BTW. I've been to Incline Village twice. Summertime trips, though. Not sure I could stand your winter temps. I was impressed that the pass over the Sierra Nevada near Mt. Rose (is that the Carson Pass?) still had snow beside the road in July.
     
  14. jrenales

    jrenales New Member

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    After researching all the post about shift lever going back to neutral from drive or reverse,with regards to prius 2004 to 2008,some people say its the brakes switch others say you have to replace the shifter mechanism $300 plus labor.
    I have come to the conclusion weather makes a big difference above 100° below 30° this has happened to me three times last year and a half, if it's too hot turn air-conditioner for 15 minutes if it's to cold turn on a heater that run for 15 minutes that is my unscientific research and seems to work, maybe the electrical engineers have fixed the problem with the new 09, 10, models with the shift lever. that's all hope this helps
     
  15. mfa-prius

    mfa-prius Old member

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    I could have written the OP's post word for word. It was cold last night, and the shifter went from D to N after a second or so. I also discovered it would drive just fine if I held the shifter down in the D gate, so went on about my business, and noticed about 10 minutes later that it was working OK. I'm well out of warranty; will check the other threads.

    Update: I've heard no "clicking" sounds as the lever moves around, as one poster reported.

    Update: Why should the brake switch be the problem? At least in mine, when the shift-to-neutral happens, I can manually shift it back into drive while moving -- i.e., not pressing the brake.

    Update: Stopped by a dealer and he said it was probably the 12V battery. I think I'm glad he's not my dealer.
     
  16. tofulover

    tofulover New Member

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    I almost want to believe that one, being that I just moved to Phoenix and it happened to me yesterday (to my 2008) when it was 103 degrees. But the same thing happened a week before when it was mid 80s when I was in Virginia. I brought it to dealership and they are giving me a line about it being low in fuel (around 1/4 tank) and that causing the problem.....:confused: I will suggest them looking at the shifting lever (but it's out of warranty).
     
  17. mfa-prius

    mfa-prius Old member

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    I haven't had any recurrences of the problem once the weather got warmer. It's plenty warmer now :(, so maybe I'll see it again...

    Update 8/23/2012: Haven't seen it since those cold mornings in Jacksonville in Feb 2010. Does anyone know what actually holds the car in gear after it's shifted into D, for example?
     
  18. dfin

    dfin New Member

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    My 2010 Prius IV has less than 3500 miles. My experience while driving - both expressway and local - is the car mysteriously shifts from Drive to Neutral w/o touching shift.

    First visit to Riverhead NY Toyota the car was put on their computer and it showed 4 different occurances. Their response was I must have hit the gears each time to cause it. Now I am back again w/an additional 4 or 5 frightening experiences and they asked if I spilled something on the gear shift. The blame game doesn't stop. Fortunately for now, each time it has happened I can pop it back into Drive. They just don't know what to do. The car is still sitting there after almost a week and it is not looking good. My confidence is slipping rapidly.

    Anyone else with similar experiences.
     
  19. 2009Prius

    2009Prius A Wimpy DIYer

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    It's appalling how the dealership/manufacturer always try to blame the customer. :(

    Maybe you could post in the Gen III care and maintenance forum to see if other 2010 owners have similar issues. Good luck!
     
  20. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Well, if the dealer is past the stage where you are being blamed for the mysterious shifts, then it would seem reasonable to replace the shift mechanism.
     
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