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Even though this is a familiar problem to many of you, we've been down a long road on this one, and we're looking for the next level of things to look at.

We have a 2005 SSR automatic trans, 70k miles. No major problems until this.

TL;DR = new master cylinder and The Dicktator's shift lever bushing installed, still stuck in park and won't crank.

Long version = A month ago, the shift lever got stuck in park with engine running. The little white plastic bushing at the joint of the shifter cable to the trans actuator lever had failed. The flatbed driver found half lying on the street, half still partially attached to the lever. He tried to jury-rig the connection, no luck. Flat-bedded it to our local Chevy dealer. They replaced the bushing and said all was well.

It was not.

After a week or two, the SSR wouldn't start when cold, parked in our driveway. Dash lights power up, but it wouldn't crank - just that click that sounds like a relay closing under the hood. Shift lever stuck in park, button won't even depress.

Brake pedal VERY hard to depress. Was concerned that we couldn't depress brake pedal far enough to engage the brake pedal position sensor / switch, thereby preventing the shift lever solenoid from releasing and allowing the shift lever to be moved. Was told by the service tech at the dealership that:

A - It is not necessary to press the brake pedal when turning the key, only that the trans needs to be in park or neutral to allow the starter to crank, and:

B - The brake pedal position sensor / switch is designed to engage at the upper end of the pedal's throw, so that pressing the brake pedal just a tiny bit will engage the switch, illuminating brake lights and allowing the top retract mechanism to engage with only small pressure on the brake pedal. Therefore, the wife's leaning hard on the brake pedal in order to try and get it down far enough to engage the switch and allow cranking is unnecessary - although she's convinced that's what made it crank when we first had this problem. But what the service tech said does make sense I guess.

(Out of habit, the wife depresses the brake pedal when turning the key, and she noticed how hard the brake pedal was, so that's why I mention it. Obviously this has more to do with a bad master cylinder, but that's another part of the story.)

So... Ordered The Dicktator's famous Transmission Shifter Repair Kit from Simple Engineering (along with some other goodies like the ABS Module Heat Shield, etc.) and also got an OEM brake pedal position sensor / switch, ignition switch, and shift lever sensor / solenoid / actuator unit just in case. Took all of the above back to the dealership.

They found a vacuum leak in the master cylinder (possibly the cause of the hard pedal when cold?), and replaced the master cylinder with a remanufactured unit (new ones apparently being unavailable from GM). They also installed The Dicktator's upgraded shift bushing kit, the ABS module heat shield, and for some reason, the brake pedal position sensor / switch. They did not install my replacement ignition switch or shift lever solenoid. They said all was well.

It was not.

The SSR drove just fine for about a week, and today guess what happened? Yup. Sitting in the driveway (cold) turn the key, relay clicks but starter won't crank. Shift lever stuck in park - the button won't even depress, as before. When turning the key, dash lights up, windows roll down, roof works - but she just won't crank at all - as though the electronics think the car's in Drive when it clearly is not.

And so I turn to you, oh wise sages of the SSR's innards - what the heck can we check next? Where can we point the techs so they're not scratching their heads and saying, "I dunno, man.... that's weird."

Does the shift lever solenoid unit also include some sensor that prevents the starter from engaging when the transmission is not in park, and could this have failed, or is there another fail point for that circuitry, like in the fuse box or some other electrical system?

Wife is so bummed. I'm trying to help, but I'm no expert in these matters, and she's ready to call in an air strike on the dealership at this point!

Any advice or suggestions? Thanks!
 
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