S70 won't shift out of park! Any ideas on the cause?

50

Asked by Aug 15, 2012 at 02:11 PM about the 1998 Volvo S70 Sedan

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

My 1998 Volvo S70 has this problem about half the time: when I get in the car to go somewhere
and try to shift out of Park, it's jammed. The button won't depress to shift to Reverse or Drive
and the gearshift is stuck. I use the emergency shiftlock release button, but then the headlights,
dashboard lights, and turn signals don't operate at all. I just had this problem looked at by a
Volvo dealer and they replaced something in the shift controls as well as replacing the solenoid
but the problem has begun happening again just days after the repair. I have to bring the car
back in to the dealer again, but I can't afford to have them fix yet another problem. I'm hoping
someone can suggest what else could be wrong. (If a part just replaced is bad, it's under 2-year
warranty and will be covered, but otherwise I'm starting from scratch after blowing $500.) Thanks
in advance!

31 Answers

285

This happens all the time with older Volvos. Turn the key back just a little, not enough to kill the engine. Usually you will hear dinging sounds that occur when you start the car.

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.
50

I'll give it a shot and let you know how it turns out. Do I hold the key in a slightly turned back position as I try to shift out of Park? Or do I just turn the key back slightly, then let go of that to do the shifting? There's always been a dinging sound when I started the car, ever since I got it 6 years ago. Anyway, thanks so much for responding!

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
16,255

Maybe the brake pedal switch has gone bad. Does the vehicle usually require you to press the brake to shift out of park?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
285

Don't hold the key, just turn it back very slightly & let go. The ignition is supposed to turn the key back slightly when you let go from turning it all the way forward to start the engine. The older Volvos eventually stop letting the key turn back slightly on it's on to the position it is supposed to stay in. Your lights should work then too. I've had to show this to customers countless times.

15 out of 15 people think this is helpful.
Best Answer
50

As far as your answer, Andrew, the owner's manual says that I have to be braking to shift out of park, so I always have done so. Thank you for the clarification, Volvo_girl. This may save me a bundle of money, money I can't afford to spend! I'll get back to you folks and report what I experience. Can't thank you enough for the responses!

50

Volvo_girl, your answer was dead-on. I don't know how to possibly thank you enough for saving me from investing yet more hundreds of dollars in repairing what, as you advised, just requires a simple and slight key turn! Thank you so very much!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

ditto to what kimberlyhorowitz says above. Volvo_girl you rock. thank you so much for your anwer to my same problem.

Help, Volvo Girl or anybody ! The key trick is not working for my 93 Volvo wagon - at least not yet. I'm going to keep trying it. Thanks for any help! mb.

10

I have a 1998 s 70 volvo my gear shift does the same thing Did you mean to turn the key slightly back not to stop the motor BECAUSE what i do to fix it is to turn the car off then restart it sometimes that works other times it doesn't just trying to make sure that im hearing you right my gear shift light has been out for a while now any idea how i can fix that problem thanks for any info i love my volvo it has 164444 miles its in GREAT SHAPE thanks to any help i can get on this problem

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
50

Yes (at least that's what solved my problem), turn the key back VERY slightly and don't turn off the motor. Turning it off and back on again sometimes will fix it-- but only because sometimes it won't happen to get stuck in the wrong position occasionally. It's an incredibly simple fix. Just rotate the key back toward you a tad without turning off the car. As for the gear shift light, I take it you mean the dashboard light that indicates what gear you're in? Sounds like you just need a new bulb. I believe the Volvo part number would be PRND3L, but I've heard Radio Shack 272-1092 bulb works fine and is much cheaper. Hope that helps.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
10

Sounds like the switch may be going bad. Check out Robert DYI youtube video on Volvo key switch issues.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I know this thread started YEARS ago, but this happened with my volvo and the car would not get out of park. My mechanic told me to use the SHIFT OVERIDE button that is on the older models located at the top of the gear shifter (not the W button but the one above it. If you have and older car you will see it) worked like a charm, you have to depress the brake while you are using it. Recently I took the car to another mechanic and forgot to tell them about this and they must have forced it and now I don't have to use the button anymore but am worried that I won't be able to access this if the shift gets stuck again...

285

Reginabee, you are correct not to use the W as that is just to get your traction on a slippery surface for "winter mode". If you ever need to use winter mode, please take it back out of winter mode when you get your traction as winter mode starts you in a higher gear & you don't want to ruin your transmission by driving around in 2nd gear. As far as using the shift override button, I don't believe it solves the issue if your lights and turn signals don't work. You can tell by turning on your turning signal when you start the car. If the turn signal doesn't come on, turn the key back slightly til the turn signal comes on. The ignition switch normally springs the key back after you let go when starting the key except it sticks lightly in older Volvos.

10

Volvo_girl I just bought my volvo 2000 s70 a couple of days ago it was running fine for about a day. Well I was driving and it jerked foward I came to a stop light and when the light turned green it wouldn't accelerate. Had it towed. It runs fine it drive for about 10 feet then just stop checked all fluids but it just won't drive. Any idea what maybe wrong with it?

285

Bigrude, you may have any issue with your gear shifter. If there is a transmission issue, typically in that particular car and up arrow with be illuminated on the right side of your Guage cluster. If that light is not lit, double check that your turn signals are working. If not, follow the above directions on turning your key back slightly. Yours could be so close that a bump or something is putting the ignition in the position of the car being shut off. If it is the gear shifter try the shifter over ride by the upper right of the shifter. If you have a W below the shifter do not use it for this. Tow truck drivers are aware of shift over ride buttons and are quick to use it to get your car up onto the tow truck. If they told you that's what they did you wouldn't need their tow. If it is shifter related you may need it lubricated. Find a good independent shop to do it.

10

Ok thank you. I'll try it. Hopefully that's the problem and not the transmission. I had car for about a day and a half and then started having problems.

285

If you bought it from a dealership ask if they are willing to help out. The dealership I work at would help out a recent customer. If it was a private seller, try calling them (be really nice) and ask if they ever had the issue & if they know what it could be, or what didn't work.

10

Volvo_girl there are no lights on dash, but still not going into gear. When I put my foot on gas now car shuts off like battery is dead and battery light comes on. But it will start right back up. Just will not move. I was told battery is brand new when I bought car. Would battery be an issue that's why car will not move?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
10

I bought it from a private dealer he told me when he sold it to me he never had any issues with it. I've been calling and texting him with no reply back at all.

285

Knowing this about the battery light yet still has enough juice in the battery to start the car, get the alternator checked. Your battery should also have a date stamp on it to tell if they were truthful about the battery being new. A bad alternator will drain a battery.

10

My boss checked alternator and battery earlier with a tester we have a our work shop and said they were both fine reading over 13

10

Sorry to bother you just need my car going

285

When you turn your key forward, pay attention to all the lights that light up at bottom of Guage cluster. Look to see if the check engine light comes on. All those lights should go out once you start the car but I want to make sure no one pulled any bulbs in the cluster. If Che k engine light won't light up with the others, have the engine computer scanned. Did you run the Carfax to see any recent service? Get me the Vin & I'll run it tomorrow to see if anything stands out.

10

Only light that is coming on is the SRS on left side and ABS on right side. Vin#YV1LS61J2Y2630811. Thank you.

10

No check engine light comes on when I turn key just windshield washers, gas, ETS, SRS, battery, and ABS lights

10

Anything?

285

Have the engine computer scanned anyway as if the check engine light is on. On 2/18/16 someone in Holiday bought the car. Not sure if that was you or if the person you bought it from dumped it that quickly. Before that, it was in Valrico then Tampa when the owner moved. I think they only had it 3 months. Person before that had it 2 years in Valrico. The last service reported to Carfax was by Furman Volvo in Tarpon Springs, FL at 146,212 miles. Noted they checked computer (s). Slight change they might have helpful info if you call the service dept, give them the Vin & ask what the last service was that they did to the car & if they ever did anything significant of service. Ask them to check the Volvo computer to see of any open recalls.

285

Ferman Volvo's service dept ph# is 877-815- 6930

10

I brought car on 2-19-16.

10

I have a 2008 xc90 volvo and a 2002 s60 volvo and both of them are having the gear problem. There are so many Volvo's that are doing this, looks like there would be a recall on this! I havent tried the volvo_girl trick yet because I just read it this morning but, I will be trying it this afternoon after work. I am so fed up with gettibg in my car and it not going into gear! This matter needs to be brought to the attention of the makers of Volvo so that it can be upgraded to something that wont mess up. I am thankful that at least we cab go online and find help! Thanks to all!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I have had the same problem for about two years only I have a situation I have not heard about here: My problem is only in winter! Until November or so, the car runs perfectly. Then, when the temperature dips below around 45, the gear does not move. It sticks on "Park." In the beginning it helped to let it warm up about five or ten minutes; then it took 20-30. Now, sometimes it doesn't work at all, particularly if I keep trying. I tried Volvo-girl's solution this morning but it didn't work. Frankly, I turned the car off instead of doing what she said so I will try again. I just wanted to bring up the winter issue. I have around 170K miles on my XC70 and I refuse to sell it. I also have lights out in the radio panel (if they existed before; my brother said they must have) and no lights on the gear shift. There are a few messages that pop up permanently, each taking their turn. I'll let you know if I get it to work tomorrow morning.

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