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My kid has a small accident in slow-moving stop-and-go traffic. Yaris rear-ended the car in front if it. The plastic front end of the body was destroyed, between the headlights, from front bottom up to hood. The only visual engine damage is that the radiator is bent in a little, but no fin damage. I have to wait a few weeks to get it into a mechanic. It runs fine and I drove it home, not more than 45 mph for 7 miles. No leaks. I haven't driven it since.

The biggest problem seem to be the gears. It won't start in Park. It won't shift into Park while engine is running. It will shift into and out of Park only when engine is shut off. Also, it feels a little too smooth when shifting from Neutral to Drive. It doesn't have the the soft "clunk" when you shift into a gear. All other gears seem fine. E-brake works fine.

Is there anything I can do to inspect the gears problem closer and figure out the problem? Where should I look to investigate the shifting problem? How likely is it do the repair myself?

I'll post updated information if people ask questions.

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My thinking is it's either the shifter inside the vehicle or where the shift cable connects to the transmission.

Somewhere, either at the shifter or the transmission, there's what's known as a neutral safety switch. This is an interrupt which keeps you from starting the vehicle with the transmission in gear. It allows you to start it in either park or neutral. It seems to me the alignment of where the shifter sits in relation to were the transmission is actually at as far as in gear. Because of this mismatch, you can't readily put it into park, nor does the detents "click" correctly when you shift it.

Since I'm not familiar with how your Yaris is setup, I'd first look to see if the shifter (inside the car) might be bent or need adjusted. If your son was holding onto the shifter when the accident occurred, he might have actually bent it by bracing himself as the accident happened. I don't know how you'd tell if it was bent, but it might be self evident once the console is apart. This is my primary guess as to what has happened.

If the shifter isn't bent, you'll need to look at the transmission end to see if shifting lever is bent.

If it's neither of these, I'd be at a loss without looking at things directly.

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    My trusted mechanic said it was just the linkage. $120 with labor. Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 22:05
  • @Stay-at-home-dad - Glad you got it fixed. Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 22:06
  • In conclusion, AFTER the $120 repair that they directed me to do, my Allstate insurance changed its mind and declared it totaled. 1. With these cheap cars nowadays, a small fender-bender results in a totaled car. 2. Allstate paid me replacement value (~$8k) rather than market value (~$3k), which is great, but they refuse to pay me that $120 for the repair (WTH?) Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 21:31
  • @Stay-at-home-dad - Argh ... Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 21:53
  • End of the story, insurance paid the $120 only after I stated I would send letters to everyone in the C-level suite, state insurance departments (of both my state and their HQ state), and attorney generals' offices (both states) for fraud investigation. Then I said I'll sue them in small claims court where the company has to fly a non-lawyer employee out to my city. Finally, I told them maybe you beat all of these things, but now you'll have a hundred people looking downhill at you, wondering was all this trouble worth a lousy $120? Got the refund two days later. Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 21:00

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