Looking at modern cars, you can’t help but be amazed at how far technology has taken us from trying to run cars using steam power to electric vehicles traveling as far as 200 miles in one charge. Advances in technology affect every aspect of the car, from the tires to the safety features of vehicles. But these developments are not without their fault. One particular safety feature always seems to catch drivers at the most inopportune time. You might be thinking of many things right now, but we are talking about getting your car stuck in park. Why does it happen? What should you do? Let’s talk all about it.
Why is my car stuck in park and what should I do?
Most modern cars will not shift out of the park position randomly without applying the brakes. This is a safety feature that prevents unknowing passengers from shifting the car out of park. This is a feature that many of us are pretty aware of, but it gets unnoticed most of the time.
However, there are cases when the shifter seems to be stuck in park, and no amount of steady pressure appears to be able to make it budge.
To better understand why this happens, you need to get to know the parking pawl. The parking pawl is a device that locks on a parking gear. The parking gear is then locked to the output shaft in the case of the transmission. This prevents the vehicle from moving when in the park position. As soon as the driver selects any other gear aside from park, the mechanism is released.
As to why your car gets stuck in park, there are a couple of reasons. The most common ones are the following.
Parking on an incline
When your shifter seems to be stuck in park when parked on a slope, this could be because the parking pawl gets wedged on the parking gear due to pressure. Just imagine the whole weight of the car and passengers being put on the parking pawl. There will be difficulty in shifting if this is the case.
When you find yourself in such a position, the best thing you can do is relieve the pressure. You can do this by having another individual rock the car back and forth. For cases where the incline is too steep, you may need the help of a tow truck.
To prevent this from happening, make sure you engage your parking brakes first before placing your vehicle in park. This ensures that the weight and pressure of the vehicle are distributed to the car’s braking assemblies and not on the parking pawl.
Shifter interlock failure
Another reason why your shifter gets stuck in park is the shifter interlock system. This system was initially implemented to ensure that the vehicle does not accidentally shift to reverse or drive. The system prevents the shifter from moving from the park position until you step on the brake pedal.
When this system fails, you can’t move the shifter even if you step on the brake. The good news is that most vehicle manufacturers install a shift lock release to solve such an issue. To bypass the interlock, you can turn your key to the accessory position then move the shifter to neutral. If this fails, there’s also a manual shift lock override that can be engaged with the help of a flathead screwdriver or key.
The location of the override can differ from car to car, so it’s wise to familiarize yourself with its location with the help of the owner’s manual.
Brake switch failure
Another reason why the interlock feature does not disengage appropriately is because the system does not detect the brake pedal being depressed. To diagnose if this is the issue, have another person check if your brake lights light up when you step on the brakes. If they fail to light up, this can be the reason why you can’t shift your car from park.
If you get your car stuck in park, you should have it checked right away. Even if it’s just due to the pressure of being parked on an incline, it should still work. This means your vehicle might require maintenance work. For the other two reasons, you need a trusted repair shop to take a look at your car to fix the problem.
Fast And Friendly Auto Repair In Atlanta
If you are in Atlanta and get your car stuck in park, don’t hesitate to give T3 Atlanta a call. T3 Atlanta offers general repair services for Infiniti, Lexus, Toyota, and Nissan cars. With more than 20 years of experiencing the cars of Metro Atlanta, you can rest assured knowing you are in good hands with T3 Atlanta.