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Q: 1999 Mercedes ML430 starts, I can move the shifter, but it doesn't go into gear. Just stays in park.

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My 1999 Mercedes ML430 was working perfectly one minute but then when I went to start the car again, it starts up perfectly fine, the shifter moves freely, but the car stays in park and doesn't do anything no matter what gear I try to put it in. I took it to a mechanic today and they're saying that the rear differential went when the car showed absolutely no signs of differential failure previous to this happening. From what I'm reading it sounds like the shifter cable has broken. Does this sound more like the problem?

My car has 180000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A differential can indeed fail without warning, but there are usually some ugly noises associated with it. As for your shifter, I believe your model still uses a lever connection between the shifter and the transmission. It should be easy enough to check if you are in a position to crawl under the car. The lever will be on the left side of the transmission. Sometimes the plastic bushing will fall out and the lever with it. Be sure to take measures that the car cannot roll while you are underneath. Further checking to see if the driveshaft is turning could be dangerous with the car on the ground. So I recommend you have a professional backup that differential diagnosis. To get some help with that, contact Your Mechanic. They can send a trained technician to your home or office to check out your ML and see why it doesn’t want to move.

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