Subaru automatic shifter solenoid question.

subaru shifterQuestion: I have a 92 Subaru loyale and the solenoid in the shifting mechanism isn’t receiving any power. My question is what powers the solenoid, is it the inhibitor relay or inhibitor switch that isn’t giving it power? I hooked the solenoid up to a voltage meter and there is absolutely no power, so the shifter is stuck in park and won’t switch gears unless I use the emergency release button. So my husband decided to bypass the solenoid completely and hook up the shifter to a light so the shifter will shift into other gears. But what is causing the no power to the solenoid?


Answer: Beth, the shifter solenoid is designed to keep you from shifting out of park when the brake pedal is not depressed. There should be a plunger switch under the dash directly above the brake pedal which activates your brake lights, and sends a signal to the solenoid to activate and allow shifting when the pedal is depressed.

I would first check to see if your brake lights work, if not then the switch is bad, a common issue on older cars. The replacement part is usually under $10 and easy to change.

If you have brake lights, then you need to check voltage at the relay when the car is on and the brake pedal is depressed. If you don’t have voltage (12 volts) follow the wiring from that brake light switch to the shifter solenoid and see if there is a break in the wiring, or a blown fuse. If you do have voltage coming in to the solenoid when the brake pedal is pressed, then the solenoid is likely bad.

Posted: 8th October 2014  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Brakes, Drivetrain, Electrical

Battery Drain and Cigarette Lighter Issues

cigarette lighter battery drainQuestion:

Alternator works.  I can drive the car for an hour or so -park it overnight and the battery is dead.  I have to charge it.  There appears to be a short somewhere but I don’t know where (The cigarette lighter doesn’t work???  Everything else works. Where should I begin looking.  I cannot find a web page  on how to replace the lighter on a 94 Mazda Miata   – Jerry




The best and fastest way would be to buy or borrow a clamp-on DC amp meter, which will allow you to hook up a freshly charged battery and measure the current draw with everything in the car off.  (key out, doors closed, underhood light unplugged)  If there is a drain you will see it on the current meter.  You can then start pulling fuses in the fuse box and see which circuit is causing the drain.  Once you have isolated the circuit you will then have to dig in and trace the wires.  More than likely the cigarette lighter circuit will be the culprit.  It’s possible there is a short, or I have even seen a penny get stuck in the cigarette lighter and cause issues!  (usually a blown fuse)  Your Miata also has a “fusible link” which may be blown as well, which would require a new socket, since the fusible link is built in to the socket.  Not sure on the specifics of how to remove the cigarette lighter, but I searched following my own advice and found this…


“I have my center console and center panel (the black strip that surrounds the radio/HVAC/cig-lighter area) removed at the moment for another purpose. And I just took my cigarette lighter out last night. Thing is, so far as I can tell, there’s no way of removing the cigarette lighter casing from the front without damaging it. I know you can yank it out with a needle-nose pliers, but it will get trashed. Since you already have a new replacement unit, maybe you should just go ahead and do that. Just be sure to break the cigarette lighter casing and not the center panel (the black plastic).

If you want to remove it without damaging it, you have to remove the center console and center panel. This sounds worse than it is. Once you have the center panel out, the cigarette lighter casing (and passenger side air-bag switch in my car) comes out with it. Then you can access it from behind. I actually used a cloth-wrapped flat-head screwdriver to slowly pry out the metal part from the front. When it’s out, there’s a clip on the plastic part that, when pressed in from behind, allows you to remove the plastic part from the front.” -

Posted: 29th October 2013  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Electrical

Battery Drain or Bad Alternator?


Hi Kevin,
My 1999 Mitsubishi Montero is acting strange:
draining the brand new battery in two days even when just parking in the garage.

Remote key does not open the locks, only clicking noise generated. Engine starts and runs while battery is still charged.
Is it possible that this condition is coming from faulty alternator?

Click Here To Read More…

Posted: 23rd August 2010  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Electrical

Mitsubishi Lancer Battery Drain?



I have a 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer that has a dead battery every time I turn off the car, but also leave the radio or air conditioner on, or leave any devices on whatsoever. This is weird because the radio is no longer playing and looks exactly like its off, but somehow, even with the car completely off and the keys completely removed, if the A/C or radio switches were left in the on position, then the battery will be dead if I return a few hours later, or overnight.

These devices never used to do this before — whenever I used to turn the car off and remove the key, these devices would not only go dead also, but they would also cease to draw power and deaden the battery.

Does anyone here have any ideas what might be going on? Im going to show this message to my brother, so if you have any ideas whats going on, he will be able to understand what youre explaining. Thanks.

- Rebecca



I would do a full checkup on the charging system.

1. Remove battery, fully charge and load test it. Most parts stores can test your battery or a mechanic should be able to do it for you.

2. With engine running, check voltage, should be at 14 Volts or above. If not, your alternator is not working properly.

3. Check battery drain with an amp meter between the positive terminal of the battery and the positive cable going to the starter. You should be well below .2 amps. If you are above, then I would start pulling fuses from the fuse panel one at a time to see which circuit in the system is causing the drain. From there you will need to then find the offending electrical item (radio, trunk light etc.) on that circuit and fix/replace it.

Posted: 11th August 2009  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Electrical

Nissan Electrical Problems


Stats: 2002 Nissan Sentra GXE, auto transmission, power locks and windows. No recent work, however I keep all the maintenance up to date.

Yesterday my car suddenly acted funny. While pulling out of my neighborhood, my CD player suddenly turned off, then faded back in as if I had turned it back on. At first I thought it was the CD, but after switching to my radio it did the same thing. The sound would disappear, then fade back in after a few moments. It did this about 6-7 times during a 15 minute trip.

I never lose engine power or the ability to control my car. I did notice the following though: The radio display and pre-sets are kept, for 1:5 sound drops my airbag light would come on, for 1:10 sound drops my odometer and speedometer would shoot up then return to normal, no loss in A/C. No other lights on my dash would light up, nor would any other gauges misread. Finally, I could hear a faint whine when Id shift gears. It sounded very similar to something I heard years ago in a friends car. He installed a radio that was too powerful, so if he ran the A/C and the radio at the same time it would make the same whining noise. It makes me wonder if my problem is a power issue.

On my return trip home, as well as on another ride that day, nothing happened. The second one was about an hour round-trip. At first I thought perhaps some water somehow got in the engine (we had a BAD t-storm the night before), or something like that. However, the problem came up again this morning, although not with the same frequency as the first time it happened.




It sounds like an electrical issue in the dash somewhere. The whine you described is interference in the power wire, coming through the radio. It is most likely a symptom of a loose power connection somewhere under the dash. I would trace back the power wire from the radio back to the fuse box. It wont be easy, but you can lay under the dash and try to wiggle every connection you can see while the radio is on, to see if you can reproduce the cut-out of the radio. Once you find the offending connection, you can then determine why its loose. There is the possibility of water getting into a connection, but its more likely to be a bad/loose prong in the connector itself. You could also check the fuses in the fuse box, remove and re-seat the radio fuse to see if there was a bad connection there. Electrical problems are never easy to diagnose, since you cant see electricity and most people dont understand the basic principals involved.

Posted: 30th July 2009  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Electrical

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