Note: This fix is only if your brake lights are still working, and you do not hear a click when the brake pedal is pressed in the park position.
This past week my column shifter started getting really hard to shift out of park. I would have to wiggle it and mess with it for a few minutes to get it to release. After it shifted out of park all was well. I took the trim around the column off to to try and figure out what was wrong with it and I wanted to share my fix, should anyone else be having the same problem.
The column shifter releases from park through the use of a solenoid attached to a metal tab. The metal tab keeps the shifter in park preventing accidental shifter movement. When the brake pedal is depressed, you hear a click from the solenoid and the metal tab releases allowing you to shift from park to another gear.
Now, when the shifter is in the park position, there is a small button style relay that has a metal arm, attached under it. The shifter pushes the metal arm down which pushes the button down. This action along with your foot pressing the brake pedal completes the circuit which activates the solenoid to release the shifter. I realized, after taking off the trim on the column, that this metal arm was not completely depressing the button to activate the circuit. To fix this, I very lightly bent the metal arm up more which allowed the shifter to depress the button while in the park position. FIXED!
To release the shifter manually from the park position if yours is stuck, push the black tab you see in the below picture and that will release the locking tab.
Here is a picture of the shifter mechanism. Note: the shifter is not in the park position, it is in the drive position. The brown rectangular piece with the metal arm is the tab that needs to be bent up. The arm has a natural bend in it, so hold with one finger at that bend, then bend the tab up a little at a time. You will know it is in the proper position by placing the shifter in park and simply pressing the brake pedal and hearing a "click"
To remove the trim around the column, remove to phillips head screws on the bottom side, then on left side of the column there is a tab which needs to be removed. After removing the tab, there is one more phillips head screw to remove. From there, lightly pull on the trim to release it. It splits into two pieces at the middle. you can leave the lower piece on and the upper can be removed by placing the shifter in the drive position then wiggling it out. Below is a picture of the tab on the left side you have to remove.
Hope this helps anyone out that was experiencing the same problem as me.