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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Andrew

14 years of experience
212 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.

Eladio

9 years of experience
139 reviews
Eladio
9 years of experience
Nissan Sentra - Car does not shift from park to drive Inspection - Greensboro, North Carolina
Eladio was amazing. He was on time and very respectful. He diagnosed my cars issue in a timely manner and even took the time to explain the issue to me to make sure I understood exactly what was wrong. He went into detail on how to fix it and spoke with my husband on the phone to explain it to him as well. I have booked him to do the repairs tomorrow.
Chevrolet Malibu - Car does not shift from park to drive - Greensboro, North Carolina
Eladio is very thorough and attentive! Overall, I am pleased with Eladio's service, and he is highly recommended.

Brikk

17 years of experience
385 reviews
Brikk
17 years of experience
Volkswagen Touareg - Car does not shift from park to drive - Charlotte, North Carolina
Brikks not only fixed my problem but was very thorough and relentless in looking for the cause. Absolutely terrific.

Victor

34 years of experience
116 reviews
Victor
34 years of experience
Jaguar XF - Car does not shift from park to drive - Albuquerque, New Mexico
victor was amazing and was very detailed and helpful he went the extra mile to get me going in the right direction i would definitley recommend him to anyone who needs a honest mechanic.

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