• 2020

Replacing Instrument Panel Mounted Shift Lever Assemblies

Despite the popularity of the rotary knob which allows a driver to select a drive gear, the familiar shift lever
is going to be with us for a while.

Within the lever assembly there is a solenoid valve, known as the Brake Transmission Shifter/Interlock (BTSI), that allows the lever to be moved from one position to another. If this solenoid fails, the shift lever cannot be moved. The solution is replacement of the entire assembly.

On many vehicles, this lever assembly is mounted on the center console of the vehicle. Removing and replacing the assembly is rather straightforward. On the minivans, though, this assembly is mounted on the instrument panel (see Figure 1). This presents some complexity with replacing the assembly.


The BTSI is a solenoid-operated system that prevents the transmission gear shifter from being moved out of Park
without a driver in the vehicle. The BTSI is shown in Figure 2. Let’s review the normal operation of the BTSI system.

The transmission gear shifter can be shifted out of Park when the ignition key is turned to the ACC position or
the ON position and the brake pedal is depressed.



The transmission gear shifter cannot be shifted out of Park when (1) the key is turned to the ON position, but the brake pedal is not depressed, (2) the key has been removed from the ignition switch and (3) the key is in the ignition switch, but it is in the Lock position.

Also, if the transmission shift lever is any gear position, the key cannot be returned to the Lock position. Finally, when the transmission gear shifter is returned to the Park position and the key is returned to the Lock position, the ignition key can be removed from the ignition switch.

If any of the above-described actions cannot be performed, the BTSI system requires a repair action. Perform the following test: Gain access to the BTSI solenoid. Connect the BTSI solenoid wire harness connector. Insert the ignition key and turn it to the On position. With the brakes applied, try moving the transmission gear shifter out of the Park position. If the lever now moves freely in and out of Park, perform the circuit test.



If the gear shifter now moves freely in and out of the Park position, the BTSI solenoid is faulty and the transmission gear shifter assembly must be replaced since the BTSI solenoid is not a serviceable item.

If the circuit test is passed and the gear shifter can still be moved in and out of Park without the brake pedal depressed, replace the gear shifter assembly.


As mentioned, the transmission gear shifter assembly is mounted on the instrument panel in the minivans (RT body). See Figure 1. Accessing it is a complex procedure.

Before beginning any work involving the instrument panel, steering wheel and steering column, the airbag system must be disabled. Disconnect the negative battery cable, and then wait two minutes for the airbag system capacitor to discharge before performing additional service.

The first step is removing both instrument panel (IP) end caps. This is easily done using a trim stick. Next, remove the steering column. This is a detailed procedure; refer to the appropriate service information for the vehicle being repaired.

On the driver side of the vehicle, remove the three retaining screws, the headlamp bezel and the applique. Disconnect the wire harness connectors, and then remove the start/stop button. Remove the gearshift knob. At this point, the IP top cover and center bezel can be removed.

On the passenger side, remove the upper glove box and door. Remove the three passenger side airbag bolts and the airbag, and then disconnect airbag wire harness connector. Next, remove the three screws on the right side of the IP pad.

Remove the one screw in the upper glove box opening, the two screws in the radio opening, the two screws in IP center bezel opening, the screw below the headlamp switch bezel, the two screws on the left side of the IP panel pad and the six screws along the top of the IP pad.

With all of these screws removed, pull the IP top pad rearward to disengage the retaining clips that secure the top pad to the structure. Lift upward and rearward to remove the IP top pad from the vehicle.

With the IP pad and steering column out of the way, the transmission gear shifter assembly can be replaced. Begin with disconnecting the shifter electrical connector, and then disconnect the shift cable from the shifter. Release the lock tab and remove the shift cable from the shifter housing.

Carefully release the four tabs (there are two tabs on each side of the bezel) and remove the shifter bezel from the shifter. Remove the four-shifter mounting bolts, number 1 through 4, as shown in Figure 3, and remove the shifter assembly from the vehicle.


Position the new shifter assembly in place in the vehicle.

Install the four mounting bolts, but only finger tight. The shifter assembly mounting bolts (refer to Figure 3) must be further tightened in a specific sequence. The sequence for tightening these bolts is as follows:



1. Bottom bolt
2. Top passenger side
3. Top driver side
4. Middle bolt next to the electrical connector

Next, carefully position the shifter bezel on the shifter.

Press on the bezel in order to snap the four retaining tabs into place.

Install the shift cable. Make sure that the lock tab is in the lock position after the cable is installed onto the shifter housing.

Next, connect shifter electrical connector.

In order to finish this job, the instrument pad and steering column must be re-installed.

After positioning the IP top pad to the IP structure (with the help of an assistant), install the passenger airbag. The three airbag bolts should be tightened to 55 in-lbs.

Connect the airbag wiring harness connector.

For the remaining installation, simply follow the removal procedures in reverse order.

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