How to Fix the Brake-Shift Interlock in a 2001 Ford Escort

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In 2001 Ford cut the Escort, but oddly enough the Escort body remained on the ZX2, once the Escort ZX2. Because this body is the same as the Escort, many owners incorrectly refer to it as an “Escort.” The brake shift interlock uses an electronic actuator to prevent the gear shifter from moving out of “Park” without the ignition on and the brake pedal pressed. Replacing this actuator is fairly straightforward, but you must disassemble the center console. Before performing this repair, verify that the brake lights operate correctly, as the shift interlock actuator uses the signal from the brake light switch to activate and deactivate the shift lock.

Things You'll Need

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Adjust both front seats as far forward as they will go. Remove the two screws on the rear of the parking brake console, using a Phillips screwdriver. Engage the parking brake. Pull upward on the parking brake console to remove it.

  • Move the front seats as far back as they will go. Find the two screws on the rear of the shifter console and remove them with a Phillips screwdriver. Remove the four push-style retaining pins by prying the center from each pin until it stops moving, using a flat-head screwdriver, then prying out each push-style retaining pin.

  • Turn the ignition to the “Run” position. Pry the small cover from the front passenger’s side of the sifter’s bezel – the trim surrounding the shifter – using a flat-head screwdriver, exposing the shift lock override button. Press and hold the shift lock override button with the screwdriver and shift the gear shifter to the “L” position. Turn the ignition to the “Off” position. Press the cover back onto the sifter bezel.

  • Pull the drink holder upward firmly to disengage its retaining clips and remove it. Lift the shifter console upward to remove it and place it in a secure area.

  • Remove the screw on the rear of the gear shifter knob, using a Phillips screwdriver, and pull the gear shifter knob off the gear shifter.

  • Unfasten the four screws securing the gear shifter bezel, using a Phillips screwdriver. Twist the gear shifter bezel light socket a quarter-turn counterclockwise to unlock it and pull it from the bezel. Remove the gear shifter bezel.

  • Find the brake shift interlock actuator on the right side of the gear shifter assembly. Press and hold the unlocking button on the wiring harness plugged into the actuator, and unplug the harness. Trace the actuator’s pigtail wires until you meet where its harness connects to the park range switch’s harness. Press and hold the unlocking button on the park range switch’s harness and separate the two harnesses. Remove the actuator’s pigtail wires from their routing clips.

  • Remove the two screws securing the brake shift interlock actuator, using a Phillips screwdriver, and remove the actuator.

  • Set the new brake shift interlock actuator onto the gear shifter assembly and tighten its two screws with a Phillips screwdriver.

  • Route the actuator’s pigtail wires through toward the park range switch’s harness, pressing it into each routing clip you come to. Plug the harness at the end of the pigtail wires to the park range switch’s harness. Plug the other wiring harness into the receptacle on the brake shift interlock actuator.

  • Insert the shifter bezel light socket into its hole on the shifter bezel and turn it clockwise to lock it into place. Set the shifter bezel back in place around the shifter and loosely attach its retaining screws with a Phillips screwdriver. Set the shifter knob back onto the top of the gear shifter, and tighten its screw with a Phillips screwdriver. Shift the gear shifter to the park position.

  • Look on the front of the shifter bezel and find the small hole directly in line with the gear shifter indicator – the arrow that points to the gear the transmission is in. Insert a piece of mechanic’s wire into this hole and push into the hole until you see the pointer align with the “P.” Remove the mechanic’s wire. Tighten the four shifter bezel screws with a Phillips screwdriver.

  • Turn the ignition to the “Run” position, hold the brake pedal and shift the gear shifter to the “L” position. Guide the shifter console back over the shifter assembly and slide it forward. Press the push-style retaining pins into their holes on the front of the shifter console and press their center pins inward to lock the pins in place. Tighten the two screws on the rear of the shifter console with a Phillips screwdriver. Move the gear shifter to the “P” position.

  • Guide the parking brake console over the parking brake and align the tabs on the front of the parking brake console with the holes on the rear of the shifter console as you sit it in place. Adjust the seats as far forward as they will go, then tighten the screws into the holes in the rear of the parking brake console.

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