How Long Does a Shifter Interlock Solenoid Last?

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Moving the gear shift from park to drive or reverse lets you move the car when you’re ready, but what happens if you bump the shifter accidentally and aren’t ready to roll? In older cars, this was a very real problem. However, newer models don't have that problem thanks to the shifter interlock solenoid.

Basically, the shifter interlock solenoid is a switch designed to lock your transmission into park unless the brake pedal is pushed. If you try to shift your car out of park without also holding the brake pedal down, you’ll find that it won’t move. This is a safety precaution and is installed on all automatic transmission cars manufactured in the last few decades (classic cars don’t have this feature).

The shifter interlock solenoid should last for the life of your vehicle, but premature failure is not that uncommon. When it happens, the shifter won’t move out of park, even with your foot on the brake. As a note, the same thing will happen if your brake light switch fails, or if something happens to your brake light circuit. It’s illegal and very unsafe to drive without brake lights, so a safeguard has been built into your car to prevent that from happening (note that this won’t do anything if the brake light bulb burns out – it only applies to the circuit itself). If the brake light switch fails (and it does happen), then the shifter interlock solenoid will prevent you from putting the car in drive.

Given the importance of the shifter interlock solenoid, it’s important that you know the signs to watch for that may indicate it’s about to fail, or has already given up the ghost. These include:

  • Shifter won’t move out of park (can indicate a failed solenoid, or a failed brake light switch)

  • Shifter is hard to move out of park (indicates a problem with the solenoid, but not complete failure)

  • You have to use the interlock bypass to get the transmission out of park

If you suspect that your shifter interlock solenoid is about to fail, or has already failed, the mobile mechanics at YourMechanic can help. A mechanic will come to your location, inspect and replace the shifter interlock solenoid, the brake light switch and other components if needed.


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Bernie

50 years of experience
41 reviews
Bernie
50 years of experience
Honda Accord - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
I specifically asked for Bernie to come back, since I was so pleased with the work he did on our other car. This time I got to meet Bernie personally. He is a kind family-man who exhibited the quiet confidence of someone you would expect with the 50 years of automotive experience that he has. I felt very comfortable giving him the key to my car. Two of my kids (ages two and four) came out to greet him, since they remembered him from his first visit. Bernie is great around kids and was very kind to my two-year old son who was trying to "help" Bernie do his job. Thanks again, Bernie!
Honda Odyssey - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
I was very pleased with Bernie's work, professionalism, and courteousness. Best brake job I have ever had, and I have had many done (and several done myself, but not on this vehicle). This was a maintenance appointment -- not a repair of something broken -- so I was surprised when the brakes felt so much better after Bernie did the work. You can really see the care he took with our vehicle when I examined everything after he was finished. Thanks, Bernie!

Daniel

9 years of experience
17 reviews
Daniel
9 years of experience
Hyundai Sonata - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Sacramento, California
Awesome customer service. On time and answered my questions with patience. Listened to my concerns and made helpful suggestions. Seemed very knowledgeable and experienced. I will be glad to request him again. Thank you!!

Breck

18 years of experience
532 reviews
Breck
18 years of experience
Toyota RAV4 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Conroe, Texas
Breck was awesome! He called ahead of time and asked if he could arrive early. He was friendly and easy to talk to. He made me feel comfortable with the service he was going to provide and explained things clearly to me. He smiled and made this experience a good one. I will absolutely be booking future appointments with Breck and I will recommend him and Your Mechanic services to others I know. Thank you!

Brian

19 years of experience
101 reviews
Brian
19 years of experience
BMW Z4 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Phoenix, Arizona
Brian knows what he is doing and I am so happy yourmechanic.com suggested him for my Z4 car inspection prior to purchasing and even happier he was available to perform my 1st service on the vehicle I purchased. His knowledge on the brand gave him ability to to an in depth inspection and he communicated very well informing me what to prepare for in ownership of my BMW. When he came to perform maintenance on my vehicle he shared so many tips with me. I will absolutely be having Brian come back out when I need future servicing on my car.

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