Q: What if I can’t shift out of park?

asked by on December 14, 2015

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?
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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

engine misfire. 1995 Toyota Corolla

Hello. These types of issues can be hard to diagnose. Most of the time they are caused by a failure within the distributor itself. Also common is the shaft being slightly worn, which will cause the RPM reading to be...

How do you use the power door locks?

Power locks are convenient, and the master lock control on the driver side allows you to lock and unlock all the doors in the car. Here’s how to use it: Press the end of the switch with the closed...

Head-up display is backlit on a 2012 Chevy Malibu

The first thing you want to do is, whenever your dimmer switches, check that. A lot of times, dimmer switches burn out and they will do exactly that. You want to pray it's that, because if it's not that, you...

Related articles

The Best Used Cars to Buy If You’re a Photographer
If If you are a photographer, and you’re considering buying a used car, the big thing to consider is the type of photography you do. Thanks to the advances in digital photography, chances are you’re not hauling around a lot...
The Best Used Cars to Buy If Safety is #1
Maybe Maybe you’re a parent buying the first car for your teenager, or perhaps you’re a new parent and the safety of your little one is of the utmost importance. Or perhaps you're a safety-minded individual looking to make a...
How to Replace a Tailgate Lock Cylinder
A tailgate lock cylinder unlocks the unit that secures the tailgate handle. Signs of failure include a lock that turns endlessly or not at all.