Arctic cold -> MiEV gear shifter problems + a hack to endure them

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New member
Apr 24, 2023
Over here, weather is currently nearing -30 C during nights. My MiEV started having problems with the gear shifter already at -15 C. At -20 C, the problems became intolerable - the shifter froze into the "P" position often and had to be pulled leftwards with great force.

I raised the left rear wheel onto blocks of wood, put wedges under the other wheels, went snow-diving under the car and oiled the cable / pushrod that goes from the shifter to the gearbox (reductor) at the rear of the car - sprayed oil onto the shaft entering the housing, injected oil under the rubber cover with a syringe and thick needle, vigorously moved the shifter forward and back, added more oil, repeated... front-back movement is now ideally smooth. All "gears" except P work nicely.

"P" however remains extremely troublesome. If I allow the stick to move to the right at P, it gets stuck there. If I keep the stick left, I can enter "P" and leave this positon without feeling any ill effect. As a crude solution, I machined a block of 6 mm polycarbonate plastic which fits into the gear shifter channel and mechanically prevents the stick from moving right at "P". The result:

- it will charge
- it can be switched on and off
- even the "brake" gear is engaged in "P"
- it cannot get stuck in "P", but the ignition key is stuck in the lock

A guess: there is another mechanical linkage, probably a steel cable, running from the gear stick to the ignition switch. Can anyone confirm this, or does anyone have drawings? I plan to go "fishing" for the problem, it would help me greatly. :)

P.S. IMHO, engineers at Mitsubishi really messed up this part. By cross-linking charging, powering on and shifting gears, and mixing electric and mechanical systems in different locations on the car, they made the car capable of failing in complex ways - and coincidentally, in really cold weather, such a failure is actually dangerous to people (e.g. a car refusing to work in the back woods). Fortunately I was dressed like a cosmonaut and expecting problems because everyone expects things to break in such weather.


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P.S. Found the drawing and: oh, there are two extra steel cables running out from there.

I wish they made simpler cars. But now I can probably figure out what is happening. :)


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i was going to say that yes there is a cable set from P to the Key, but you have already answered your question.

Good luck on getting it sorted out, i'm sure you will considering your clever solutions for lube and the P-gate.

Some years ago i crawled under there and disconnected the key switch while investigating the clockspring and key antenna, etc. i removed the knee-shredders for easier access.
Putting the shifter into P mechanically blocks the car from moving; try it yourself you can push the car easily in all other positions. Could it be that this locking mechanism and not the cable is freezing up?
The locking technique uses something called a "sprag" and we had lots of posts about it. Sadly, in my brief search, it seems that the links to the drawings and photos are no longer working.

Oooh, found one:
Thank you. :) The better drawing and the description of the logic behind the interlock - it helps a lot. The cold wave has passed and I can soon disassemble stuff to study how it works.
I had this problem a few years ago. Under the shifter cover there is the lever interlock, which is moved by a cable. I cut this hole out of the cover so I could use my finger to disengage the interlock. The cause for me was/is the cold weather, only happens below -15C.


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A bit late to the party but with the aim of this being a future resource...)

Not only is there a Bowden cable connecting the key to a steering lock on the steering rack but there is also another Bowden cable running from the gear stick console to the gearbox (other than the one that actually shifts gears and which connects the gear stick to the 'gear shift lever' (as the manual calls it) that is mounted on the side of the gearbox). The gear shift lever has a 6 position 'position switch' integral to the lever to tell the car's electronics which gear it is in. Early cars had a second more or less identical 'inhibitor' position switch mounted ~150mm (6") forward of the main switch and linked by an adjustable rod which is there to offer redundancy/cross-check of the gar position.

The second cable (above) unlocks the gear lever from the right-hand 'notch' on the gear lever console *when the foot brake is applied* and is a safety system to prevent the gear lever from being anything other than in park when the car is started (and when, in order to start, the foot brake must be firmly applied).

With age, this cable may require adjustment and the mechanism lubrication (at the gear lever console end) to ensure that when the foot brake is applied, the gear stick lock mechanism is released, thereby permitting other gears to be selected.

Quite why this should become more of an issue in cold weather is another matter... but, plastic shrinking enough to make the lock a bit tempermental, maybe?

There is another common issue with the gear shifting system whereby the plated steel gear shift lever (mounted on the side of the gearbox) becomes corroded where it passes through the alu-alloy gearbox casing and requires lubrication. The Bowden cable to gear shift lever joint is also prone to seizing up. If you get someone to operate the gear stick to and fro repeatedly whilst applying liberal quantities of oil/penetrating fluid etc to these 2 joints, the stiffness should quickly disappear. Thence, a good clarting with grease of some sort will help prevent a repeat but eventually it will return and regular lubing is the key to trouble free car use, here.
Yep. As you found out, there are three cables dealing with the shifter.

1. From key switch to gear selector
2. From Brake Lever to gear selector
3. From gear selector to gearbox/gear switch.
"in order to start, the foot brake must be firmly applied."
When we bought our 2011 MIEV last year I was surprised to find it would go into Ready without the footbrake being pressed.
Unlike our Mitsubishi PHEV, which will only go into accessory mode if the brake isn't pressed.
There is some interlocking, because the MIEV won't go into D etc unless the brake is pressed.
"in order to start, the foot brake must be firmly applied."
When we bought our 2011 MIEV last year I was surprised to find it would go into Ready without the footbrake being pressed.
Unlike our Mitsubishi PHEV, which will only go into accessory mode if the brake isn't pressed.
There is some interlocking, because the MIEV won't go into D etc unless the brake is pressed.
It will go into ready whilst in park, but you need to press the brake to release the lever from the park lock (home) position

The cable to the ignition keyswitch prevents the key being removed whilst the lever is anywhere except home - which ensures that the steering lock can't be engaged whilst the car is moving (as well as ensuring that you have the car in park when you walk away from it)

Bowden cables are rather notorious for getting gummed up over time and it only gets worse if you use grease as it attracts dirt/grit.
Stick to teflon or silicon sprays for long-term reliability and ensure the rubber boot at the transmission end of the cable is intact (if it splits, CHANGE IT asap - they're a pretty common item from most parts shops, although you may have more joy at a motorbike part supplier)

The usual reason they stop working in subzero temperatures is because water has penetrated the internals and frozen. It may be possible to salvage the situation by using high concentration isopropanol to dilute and wick/evaporate it out (this will wash any lubricant out too)
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