On many current ICE cars, it's electrical, or electro-mechanical. My father-in-law complained to me one time that he had an off and on problem getting his car out of Park and into Reverse. He took it to the dealer and they took apart the console, fiddled with something or other, claimed it was fixed and charged him $150
A week or two later, it did the same thing. I Googled the problem and found the usual culprit for this problem is the brakelight switch. He watched his brakelights in the mirror of his garage door and sure enough - When the brakelights activated, the shifter would move, when they didn't, no go. I told him where to shove a credit card into the console to over ride the shifter lockout and he took it back to the dealer - New brakelight switch, no more problems. He could have (should have) done the fix himself and saved $140 of what they charged him . . . . but he doesn't own a computer!
If his car was a '57 Chevy or Ford he would never have had this problem
On my son's '03 Mazda, it's electro-mechanical. We changed the brakelight switch and it didn't fix it. 12 volts from the brakelight switch activates a little $2 solenoid in the console which moves a little nylon arm that allows you to take it out of Park. His is very intermittent, even with a new brakelight switch and lights that work 100% of the time - It will work 4 or 5 times in a row and then won't work the next time and when it doesn't work, there's no 12 volts at the solenoid. Our solution? A rubber band which holds the little nylon arm away so you can take it out of Park anytime you want to . . . . just like the '57 Chevy and Ford
Thanks, but no thanks to all these attempts at idiot-proofing something that was much more reliable before the government mandated that we had to look out for the 1/2 of 1 percent who can't do it for themselves
My opinion is . . . . we can try to idiot proof everything and eventually we'll wind up with $1K toasters and hairdryers which are much more prone to failure than before we put all these 'prevents' into them, or . . . . we can learn to properly operate whatever it is and quit blaming the factory for producing 'defective' products. Compare a 1960's push mower with what we have today as an example - 90% of what fails on them these days is all the rigamorole which is supposed to protect us from ourselves!!! As operators, we really have to screw up before we can find much to gripe about, but as always, there will be that 1/2 of 1 percent who need something different. Recalling a car for the 1/2 of 1 percent doesn't make a lick of sense