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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I went to a Kia dealer to test drive a used an automatic Kia Sorento 2015. When I tried to shift the gear liver from Parking to Drive I couldn’t, it just wouldn't move. The salesperson tried as well and couldn’t. Then a mechanic came and opened a little flap that covered a tiny hole next to the gear lever. Then he used a screwdriver to release the gear lever. He advised that I can test drive the vehicle but should not put it back to Parking but leave it in Neutral. He said this will be rectified before the car is sold to me. I did drive the car after that and didn’t detect anything untoward with the gears but am very concerned. Would this indicate a serious fault with the gearbox or is it likely to be something minor like a faulty sensor? Other than that the car is nice and priced low.
The salesperson stressed that any mechanical issue with the gearbox would still be covered by the balance of the 7-year Kia warranty.
 

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There's a electrical solenoid which releases the shifter when the engine is running. Sounds like its failed or blown a fuse.

The tiny hole is described in the manual, as I recall. It's been fitted on every automatic I've had, and allows you to get the car out of 'P' if the engine doesn't run (eg. you have a flat battery, and the repair chap wants to winch it onto a recovery vehicle).

So ... it's not a gearbox fault as such (as least not anything to do with the expensive gearbox mechanicals). But that leaves the question of why the solenoid isn't working. Worst case is probably that mice have attacked the wiring. More likely, just the solenoid gummed up because the car's been sitting there a while.

On the warranty - make absolutely sure that you've checked out the service history. THese cars have a service every year or 20,000 miles, whichever comes first. Make sure that they've been done - ideally by a Kia dealer. If done by an independent you need some proof that the right oil and filters have been used - Kia will ask for these if you ever have an engine problem.
 

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Just been mulling on this a bit more. The solenoid is powered via the brake light switch - I bet that's what's gone faulty.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You did have your foot on the brake when trying to move the shifter? If not, it won't move.
Yes, I did. I and the salesperson and the mechanic tried but the gear lever wouldn't move.
In your opinion, is this something trivial or an indication of a more serious underlying issue?
The seller is a main Kia dealer and they claim all services are up-to-date so the balance of the Kia warranty should cover any transmission faults should they re-occur in the future. Point is I just want to avoid a vehicle with transmission issues altogether.
 
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