Why would an accident FIX my transmission?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

My 1967 Dodge Dart's automatic transmission worked fine except it did not have "Park" until I loaned the car to an unfortunate and irresponsible friend of mine for an afternoon. After he crashed my car into an immovable object, "Park" works fine! The only drawback to this type of transmission repair is that my radiator is ruined and I now have a concave front end. Can you explain why a little love tap fixed my transmission?

RAY: Gee, John, my brother tried to "fix" a brand new, 1993 Lincoln Continental the same way last week. Unfortunately, I guess he didn't realize that there wasn't anything wrong with it in the first place.

TOM: My guess is that you have a broken motor mount, John. Motor mounts are the things that hold the engine in place. And if a motor mount is weak or broken, the engine and transmission can twist a little bit, and end up slightly out of place. And since the shifter is connected to the transmission by a solid metal rod, even a slight shift in the location of the transmission can be enough to keep you from getting the car into Park.

RAY: The "love tap" apparently nudged the engine and transmission back where they belong. But I doubt they'll stay there very long. If a motor mount is broken, the engine will shift again, and all kinds of exciting things can happen. You could lose other gears, or you could even end up with unintended acceration.

TOM: So before anything like that happens, and you make a spectacle of yourself, have someone check the engine mounts and transmission mounts. I'll bet that's what it is.

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