If you have had problems with your key getting stuck in the ignition, one of the possible causes is a damaged micro-switch/rod assembly in the transmission control (commonly referred to as the shift control). If this damage has occurred, the entire shift assembly must be replaced. In this how-to, I will illustrate how to replace the shift control assembly in a 2005-2010 Cobalt with Automatic Transmission.
FYI This is only one of the possible causes of a stuck key. A damaged shift control is generally confirmed when a stuck key is associated with the ability to shift through the gears without depressing the shifter button.
Skill Level: Novice
Time Required: 45 minutes
13mm Deep Well Socket (Magnetic)
Forked Trim Tool ($5)
Phillips Screwdriver or Flat Blade Pick
Replacement Transmission Control ($118 Dealer, P/N 15926820)
1. Engage your E-Brake and remove the trim plate surrounding the brake lever. Trim panels can be removed by grasping and pulling firmly.
2. Turn your ignition to accessory and shift to Neutral (this will allow you the necessary clearance to remove the trim). Pull up the console trim plate that surrounds your shifter, but do not yet remove it.
3. Disconnect the (2) 12 Volt adapters in the console trim plate. Disengage the connectors by pressing the black tabs, or if unable to grasp, by inserting a flat bladed tool.
4. You may now remove the console trim plate, return your car to park, and remove the key.
5. Disconnect your negative battery terminal.
6. Remove the silver shift cable retaining clip, shown in yellow. Slide a flat blade tool beneath it and gently lift to remove.
7. Remove the shift cable from the shift control assembly using a forked trim tool, taking EXTREME care to not bend the cable. The safest method I found was to place my trim tool behind (on the inside) of the cable flange and apply steady outward pressure (toward passenger seat). The flange simply slips over the edge of the notched stud when adequate pressure is applied. Do not pull from the opposite side (with the yellow rubber).
8. Pinch the black tabs (adjacent to where the retaining clip was previously held) and slide back to release the shift control cable from the assembly. The shift control cable should now be free of the assembly.
9. Using your trim tool, pop the rivet holding the wire loom to the right side of the transmission control assembly.
10. Using the 13mm deep well magnetic socket, remove the (4) mounting nuts holding the shift control to the floor. The front two nuts are circled in red. The rear two can be removed by simply maneuvering the socket into the console cavity (this is where your magnetic socket saves you from extreme aggravation).
11. With the assembly unbolted, lift it up enough to disconnect the shift lock solenoid electrical connector on the left rear side of the unit. Again, use the flat bladed tool.
12. Remove the old shift assembly from the vehicle and grab a cold Dew
13. Transfer the shift knob to the new assembly. Use your Allen key to remove the screw, which is beneath the chrome sleeve. To slide the sleeve down, the shifter must be in Neutral, which is accomplished on a removed unit by depressing the lever on the side of the unit.
14. Connect the shift lock solenoid electrical connector to the new shift control assembly.
15. Set the new shift control assembly over the (4) mounting studs, being careful that no carpet is seated beneath the assembly. It must sit level.
16. Install the (4) shift control nuts and tighten to 25 N.m, or 18 lb. ft (one turn past finger tight).
17. Slide the shift control cable locking tabs into the shift assembly until you hear them click.
18. Connect the shift control cable to the shift control assembly by sliding the cable flange over the notched stud. Press firmly to seat.
19. Reinstall the shift cable retaining clip from Step #6.
20. Pop the wire loom rivet from Step #9 into the corresponding hole on the right side of the shift assembly.
21. Reinstall the 12 Volt electrical connectors, trim panels and connect your negative battery terminal.
22. Prior to releasing E-brake, with a foot on the brake, test shift through the gears, checking for proper operation.
I hope this helps. Please provide any feedback you feel beneficial.