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2011 Malibu shifts to Park But Will Not Release Key

3596 Views 4 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  DrivenDaily
Hello All,

I have a 2011 Chevy Malibu that has no problem shifting into Park and turning into ACC, but will not shift to the final off position to release the key from the ignition. This is obviously a problem because the car does not fully shut off until the key is in a final position and can be released, causing the battery to die. This used to only be a problem when it was cold out, but now it is all the time.

I am not sure if this is a problem with the tumbler in the lock itself, an electrical sensor issue or an issue with something like the Shifter Interlock Cable. The car shifts through all the gears fine, but just wont allow the key to rotate to the release position. The door locks all open the way should when I shift into Park, but the key will not shift the final click in the ignition to be released.

I have a feeling that this may be more of a mechanical issue rather than electrical issue, due to the fact I have felt something pull in the shifter when the key finally releases.

Has anyone had this issue with this generation of Malibu? Can anyone show me a picture of where the Shifter Interlock Cable is in the center console of this type of malibu so I can inspect it? I am trying to avoid going to a dealer and most mechanics try to sell me a whole new ignition.

Thank you,

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I checked my copy of the electrical drawings for a Gen7 2008 (it's all I have) and I don't see any indication that an electrical signal is sent to the key switch to lock or unlock it. I believe that it's a simple cable attached to the shifter that engages or disengages a mechanism to allow you to remove the key. You might be able to inspect and/or adjust it by moving the passenger seat fully rearward and then removing the center console cover. If you need to see the other side of the shifter, it might be viewable from the driver's side, but there's some stuff in the way.
Okay so I took the trim apart under the steering wheel and it was definitely the cable attached to the shifter that engages and disengages the the lock on the key. It was not recoiling the way it should, thus not releasing the key. The picture attached is what was was happening in park. The cable attached to the white plastic piece should be in tension and it wasn't. I jiggled both ends of the cable (in the console and attached to the ignition) and the key finally popped out.

The question now is can I lubricated this cable somehow or do I have to replace it? I tried to detach the cables end from the ignition, but I could only get it to come out so far. I am not sure if the cable is fastened to the ignition somehow or if it is a simple plug in situation.


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Update on this issue:

It turned out that the shifter interlock cable or park interlock cable was stuck at the ignition end. I took the trim off much of the console and beneath the steering wheel (pic #1), figured out how to inspected it (Location shown in Pic #2, the key needs to be in the on position to disconnect it) and found that the spring at the end was getting caught in the protective sleeve (Pic #3) running the cable up from the shifter to the ignition. The spring at the end is similar to that of a mechanical pen so it it was just plastic getting caught on rubber. I lubricated the end with WD40 and then silicone lubricant, made sure the end would release (Shown in Pic #4), loosened the cable at the shifter end so it does not Jam, and then buttoned the whole car back up.

It took a little bit of research to figure how this system work, but I believe this issue is common in the older malibu's and Jeep XJ's. The 08-12 Malibu generation doesn't seem to have this issue as often but the connection is still the same. This definitely saved me over $500 and the hassle of a mechanic or dealership. I hope this helps someone on here who is a car novice like me. Took an afternoon, but it was well worth it.




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Treat yourself to a nice dinner, and take a person who's important in your life along. Thanks for sharing the solution and the pics!
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