lisa ralon

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Dad pushes Macy on the bean bag

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Where’s Macy? mailbox edition

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Macy likes ginger beard

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Christmas Day with the VanDenBoses

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I like those shoes

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How to fix a slipped gear shift cable on a 2004 Sienna

Yesterday I backed the van out of the garage and when I put it in drive, I noticed it was in neutral. I moved the gear shift through all the gears – still in neutral. I restarted the van and went through the gears again – still in neutral. Luckily my neighbor’s daughter’s soccer team was at her house before their game, so they pushed the van out of the road and back into my garage (many thanks!)


Andrew did some research online and thought he found the solution. We didn’t have much to go off (only a YouTube video), but it seemed to fit. (Here’s another video of a Corolla with the same issue).

We needed basic tools:

  • socket wrench
  • extension
  • 12mm socket (and maybe two more)
  • something that won’t dent up your dash as you unsnap it apart (orange trim tools in our pics)
  • and patience, haha.

You’ll also have to take apart much of the dash: the glovebox, driver and passenger kick panels, panel under steering wheel, big dash piece where the shifter, and possibly the piece above it (vents + stereo) to get the shifter piece out. (Here’s another YouTube video of a different task, but it’s helpful for the dashboard disassembly process)

The solution is a 3/8″ metal E clip from Home Depot or Ace. The metal rod is about the thickness of a pen, but you may want to get a few sizes just in case.


So, after Macy was in bed, we performed surgery on the van.


We had to take apart most of the dash to get to the spot…


Down to the left of the gear shift, we found the problem. The gear shift cable had slipped off. This cable connects the gear shift to the transmission, so that’s why the car wouldn’t change gears. The van just happened to be stuck in neutral, but could have been stuck in any gear.


The reason it had slipped off is because the little rubber gasket holding it on had disintegrated.


Andrew ran to Home Depot 30 minutes before closing and got this little guy (a 3/8″ E-clip) – 2 for 50¢


We slid the cable back on to the post…


And then put the E-clip in place to keep it there.


Ta-da! All fixed.

Then our neighbor came over and saw the dash all apart and thought Andrew deserved a celebratory drink.