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Hello I will help you with your question,
If the cables have broken or frayed this will be the more expensive repair, if the cable attachment has come off the ball stud of the shifter the repair is less than the $100 you were charged.
If you remove the console by pulling the four screws that attach it you can diagnose the problem.
Please ask if you have questions
I will be accepting your answer - first time I've used this so I'm not sure how to ask a follow up...
The car has very high milage and the interior is in poor shape. I'm trying to decide to fix or replace...$500 is a lot of money for me. Based on your experience with a car of this age and an owner with no mechanical expierience, would what you do?
I would pull the four screws out of the console, two at the front behind the panels that are held on with velcro and two under the cupholder and raise the console.
Move the shifter and look at the base. Is there a ball that moves but the cables are just laying below it? If so there is a special connector I will tell you where to get it. About $15
If the cables are connected to the shift lever and move with it you will have to check the other end on the back of the transmission. You will need a helper to move the shift lever and I will give you a diagram of what to look for.
Let me know what you find
I went to the AAA Repair center and was able to get in the car & take these pics - do these help you at all?
You need a repair bushing. There are several types This shows one type being installed. I used another type and have not had any problems for two years. You can get it here. I can't tell from the pictures if the stud is still there or if it broke off. If it is broken get the first type from Here This is only necessary if the stud is detached from the shift lever. If the stud is secure use the one I used. NAPA sells the Saturn style bushing and I went through three of those befor I found this repair. If you replace the entire shifter it will be $500 but if you just use the repair bushing they should put it in for $100 (one hour labor)
Hope this is of help
AAA says they were unaware of the bushing - hmmmm, they're going to order it Mon.
You saved me a chunk of change - thank you very much.