so we got done installing lawn signs for a candidate, and we've had our "atta boy" lunch, and go out to the car.
starts fine. won't go into gear. at all. the cosmic welder has zapped the shifter.
you must understand that GM and Ford have adhered for decades to the idea that you must not go into gear unless your foot is on the brake, and thus have shift interlock systems. if you high brake lights go out, you are sitting there until you replace them.
or a wiring harness diode has quit. that's a no-fun job getting to them.
or a computer is constipated and won't let the bits pass and unlock the shifter.
or the feedback switch on the shift controller is not working.
or this or that or the other thing. fah. just shoot me.
if the dash was electronic, I would expect to see everybody's favorite impediment, Clippy.
after the well-meaning came by to look and mutter and walk away, and I cleaned some connector contacts and gave a little sorta-love tap to the shift control shaft, and nothing worked... I cried uncle. opened the manual. looked up "brake interlock." page 86 if you have a jelly-bean Taurus.
most automakers have a cheat mode for most of the things that will keep you from driving to the dealership and dumping more money than your mortgage for basically nothing done. in this case, it's a Village People routine that involves stomping the emergency brake down, shutting off the car, turning the key to off-unlocked position, shifting to neutral, and then starting and getting out of the way on your own power. got the rhythmn down in 5 tries.
it hasn't failed again.
son #2 says if the manual trick doesn't work, best to disconnect the car battery for the usual deprogramming time (mostly 20 to 30 minutes) and trying again when the computer has fully drained its states and is back to a cold ROM restart.
for everybody who is NOT a safety nazi, first thing you need to do is check to see if the high brake lights work when you hit the pedal. if not, start with bulbs. you may be able to swipe a bulb from under the hood, or the trunk light, or one of the courtesy lights inside, to get you by until you can get the right bulbs.