Car Won't Start or shift to neutral, burning smell (oh, yeah, and smoke, too) [Archive] - Forum


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12-22-2005, 02:49 PM
OK, so this isn't a Grand Am question, but after looking on here and the rest of the net, I didn't find anything. I figured that you guys would be my best bet for help on this.

My dad owns a 1975 Oldsmobile 442 with the 455 engine. It has an automatic trans. Late this summer, one of the brake lines ruptured, making it unsafe to drive, so it has been in storage until now.

I was going to get the car up on some lifts, but when I went to start it, the battery was dead (of course). So I put it in neutral and backed it out of the garage it had been in and pulled my car up next to it to jump it. I tried a few times, but there was just a clicking sound and nothing would turn over. Then, I looked at the center consel, and there was smoke coming out of the arm rest and gear shifter! There is a burining smell like when electronics are frying.

It wasn't until afterwards that I noticed that the gear selector wasn't catching (you know, when you have it in drive, you usually have to really push it to move it to neutral, but now it just slides forward really easily), so I'm afraid that the car was stuck in gear while I was trying to start it. What would cause this

This car has a lot of problems due to it's age and the fact that it hardly ever gets driven. But I'd at least like to get it running well enough to put it back in the garage this winter! I had help, and we tried to push it back into the garage, but it was in gear, so there was no way we were going to be able to push it uphill!

Please help, I'm really at a loss when it comes to transmissions and starters! Thanks,

12-24-2005, 10:42 AM
Does anybody have any ideas?

01-04-2006, 04:20 AM
Well, I just wanted to post an update, if anyone was wondering what the problem was. So far I have removed the transmission cable which connects to and controls the manual valve. That is what was keeping the car in gear (if it was in gear, since I still don't really know), and making it really easy to move the shifter. I'm going to replace this part, and if this doesn't solve the problem, then I'm gonna take a look at the starter, to see if it's fried or seized. I'll post with updates when I find out anything new. It's looking like the motor will be rebuilt fairly soon, so it will be a relief to get the car fixed and running strong like it should.

01-04-2006, 08:36 AM
Make sure the wire or cable that grounds the body to engine has a good connection as it sounds like the shifter cable was acting as the ground instead of the wire or cable (engine to body)

Pontiac Ninja
01-04-2006, 10:00 AM
Good luck. I love the old Cutlass (especially the 442s :))! My dad had a '72 S. Keep us updated!

01-06-2006, 10:13 PM
OK, so I went to NAPA, and they looked up the car, but since it is so old they didn't have any replacement for it. We tried the oldest 442 (maybe a 78) we could find, but when it came in, it wasn't the right size. I've looked all over the net and at all of the local auto parts stores, and still can't find anything. Should I check at a local dealer? I even called up GM, and they gave me a number of web sites, none of them had the transmission cable (is this the same as a detent cable?) either! Does anybody know of a good place to find one of these?


01-06-2006, 10:48 PM
Try this place out:

or here:

Check out a local dealer out also as there are still dealers that can get the old parts or try a transmission shop as they for sure can get you a cable.

01-07-2006, 09:09 AM
Thanks a ton for those sites, I found it on the rock auto one right away. I have to head back to school this week, but I'll order it so I can install it when I'll be home next time.

01-07-2006, 10:12 AM
Your welcome!