How Long Does a Shift Interlock Solenoid Last? | YourMechanic Advice

How Long Does a Shift Interlock Solenoid Last?

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Modern transmissions are much more advanced than they were only a few decades ago, particularly automatic transmission. There are many new features and designs on the market, ranging from ‘slick’ shifting transmissions to manual shift paddles on the steering wheel. Some of those advancements have been in the realm of safety – that’s where you’ll find the shift interlock solenoid.

Think of the shift interlock solenoid on your car as a safeguard against inadvertently putting the car in gear. Really, it’s just a switch that keeps the transmission in park if you don’t have your foot on the brake pedal. That makes sense, as knocking the shifter out of park without holding the brake could result in serious injuries and accidents.

The shift interlock solenoid is used every single time you put the car in park. Once you move the shifter from drive or reverse to park, the interlock engages. You have to put your foot on the brake to shift out of park again. That puts a lot of wear and tear on the switch (it’s both mechanical and electrical, so there’s definitely the potential for failure). While the interlock should last for the life of your vehicle, that’s not always the case. Drivers who frequently shift from park and back will find that they have less life from the interlock than those who do mostly longer drives with fewer shifts into and out of park.

The shift interlock solenoid is also tied into other systems in your car, most notably the brake light switch. This switch is mounted to the back of the brake pedal arm, and engages/disengages when you press the pedal and the brake lights come on. If the brake light switch fails, you cannot shift out of park (the interlock is engaged).

Obviously, you need to know a few signs and symptoms that indicate your shift interlock solenoid might be on its last legs. These include the following:

  • It takes several tries to get the shifter out of park

  • You have to manually override the interlock using the interlock switch with the car’s ignition key

  • Car won’t shift out of park (indicates a failed solenoid or a failed brake light switch)

If you are experiencing any of these problems, have a certified mechanic inspect both the shift interlock solenoid and the brake light switch, and replace any failed parts to get you back on the road.


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Torrieanto

11 years of experience
594 reviews
Torrieanto
11 years of experience
Ford F-150 - Car does not shift from park to drive Inspection - Lakeland, Florida
Very knowledgeable and professional. Able to figure out the issue quickly. Customer service was great.
Toyota Camry - Car does not shift from park to drive - St. Leo, Florida
Was really easy I was able to book and pay online the mechanic showed up when he was supposed to he was courteous polite friendly and explain the situation to my daughter on what our next steps would be

Andrew

14 years of experience
306 reviews
Andrew
14 years of experience
Nissan Altima - Car does not shift from park to drive - Portland, Oregon
Andrew is polite and professional and does a great job. Will definitely book him next time I need a service.
Toyota Pickup - Car does not shift from park to drive - Portland, Oregon
Andrew showed up early, quickly got to it and found the issue...in the dark....in the rain....in a tight space. So much better than towing it to a shop and waiting for days for it to get looked at.

Michael

15 years of experience
574 reviews
Michael
15 years of experience
Chrysler Sebring - Car does not shift from park to drive - Atlanta, Georgia
Michael has been working on my car for a couple of years now. He’s very knowledgeable and gets the job done. Highly recommend!

Wesley

8 years of experience
61 reviews
Wesley
8 years of experience
Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD - Car does not shift from park to drive - Peoria, Arizona
He could of charged me a lot more, but showed me what was wrong and I was able to fix my own truck in 5 min. He was honest, friendly. Would highly recommend to anyone.

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