Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: What if I can’t shift out of park?

asked by on

What if I can’t shift out of park?

Like all modern cars, yours is equipped with a shift interlock system that’s designed to prevent the car from being put into gear if the brake lights aren’t working. If the brake light switch fails, the lock will activate and you’ll be stuck in park. However, it’s also possible that the interlock can become stuck. You can manually release it to put the car in gear in an emergency. Here’s how:

  1. Turn the ignition off.

  2. Locate the lock cover (it’s on the gearshift panel, directly above the P).

  3. Use a flathead screwdriver to pry the cap off.

  4. Insert the screwdriver into the slot and push down while holding the brake. Keep holding the lock and shift the transmission into neutral.

  5. Crank the engine and put the car in gear.

Tips

  • If this problem happens more than once, have the vehicle inspected.

  • Don’t drive the car if your brake lights aren’t working (because of a failed brake light switch).

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: How do I activate the Electronic Locking Differential?

Your truck has Electronic Locking Differentials. These help both of the rear wheels turn at the same speed and can aid the vehicle when it gets stuck. To activate the Electronic Locking Differential. Pull the 4WD control knob out....

Q: Car key is not turning in ignition lock .

Hello there, thank you for asking about your 2011 Honda Civic. You should try another spare key if you have one. If not then have a new key cut to see if it will turn the ignition. If that doesn't...

Q: Advice on buying a Rav4

Out of those options, I'd say buy the '04 RAV4. The earlier ones had some problems with the oxygen sensors and catalytic converters. The '04's really didn't. I'd say get yourself an '04. They are really well made. If you...

Related articles

How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
P2103 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle Actuator Control Motor Circuit High
P2103 means there is a fault with the throttle actuator control motor circuit, likely due to a defective electrical component or part.