An Ode to Old Cars

Prairie Gleanings

Our 2006 Sentra developed a "fun" little quirk last week.

Published on: September 26, 2013

There are two types of older cars.

You’ve got your “seasoned” car that keeps running despite a few extra squeaks and rattles. Then, you have your bucket of bolts that necessitates you keep a tool handy for a quick daily tweak.

Unfortunately, my 2006 Nissan Sentra, with 144,000 miles, slid into the second category last week. It’s not quite as bad as some I’ve seen, i.e. I’m not driving around with a pair of vise grips in lieu of a steering wheel.

Last week, I was due at the airport and I couldn’t get the car to shift out of park. No matter how many times I pushed the brake pedal, I couldn’t depress the button on the shifter.

This was our first new car as a married couple -- a 2006 Nissan Sentra.
This was our first new car as a married couple -- a 2006 Nissan Sentra.

Getting a bit desperate, I pried off the “Shift Lock” cap and jammed a screwdriver in the hole. That did the trick.

Thinking a few steps ahead, I tossed the screwdriver in the floorboard and went on my merry way. Good thing I had, because the shift lock has failed to release another three or four times.

Frustrated, I Googled the problem this morning. Looks like I’d pay about $500-$1,000 to have the little solenoid replaced that disengages the shift lock. On a 7-year-old car? No thanks.

No biggie, the car just needs a little help every so often. I can manage that.

It was the first new car Tiffany and I bought as a married couple. As you can see, we bought it pre-kids. As everyone knows, compact four-door cars aren’t the easiest when it comes to kids, car seats and strollers. 

The shift lock solenoid is going out. No big deal. It just means a flat-head screwdriver is standard equipment.
The shift lock solenoid is going out. No big deal. It just means a flat-head screwdriver is standard equipment.

So, here’s to you, 2006 Nissan Sentra. I’d wager you only have a year or two left until things start falling off. In the meantime, I’ll keep working around your little quirks.

After all, it’s still one of the best types of cars around – one that’s paid for!