What is the Shift Lock Release and How to Use It?

Written by

Charles Bolte

FACT-CHECKED BY

Vernon Hoppe 

what is the shift lock release and how to use it

Modern vehicles nowadays are now equipped with safety features such as the shift release button. If you are new to driving cars, you have probably wondered what it is for.

So what is the shift lock release and how to use it? The feature allows you to select and shift gears while driving. It helps avoid unintentional circumstances like accidentally putting a car locked in park, or shifting it to other gears.

Definition

unlock-shift-lock-in-car

The shift lock release button is an added safety measure that is usually found in newer vehicles. It complements the shift lock, which automatically activates when the driver parks the car and prevents the wheels from moving.

By disabling the car gear shift locks using the release, automatic car users can now move the lever to select and shift to different gears. These gears include park neutral drive reverse.

In an automatic car, should the car battery dies and the engine won’t start, the lever to shift into different gears will not move, thus the gear will not be changeable.

Using the shift override button allows the user to have control of the lever and change to the desired gear even if the engine is off or the car has a discharged battery.

What Does the Shift Lock Do? How to Use It?

in-automatic-car

The shift lock prevents users or even other passengers from unintentionally shifting into different gears, not unless the user steps on and depresses the brake pedals.

Its function depends on a shift interlock solenoid, which moves to block or allow the shift lever to change positions.

To change gears, simply press the shift release button to unlock shift lock in car. For some car models, there is a cover for the shift lock override slot that you have to remove.

You can pop off the cover by using a screwdriver or any pointed object, as long as it is wrapped in tape to avoid scratching the component. You can press the button with your finger if you can reach the button or use your ignition key.

What to Do When My Shift Lock Release Button is Not Working?

There are many reasons why the shift lock release button is not working. This could be due to a faulty electrical system, a dead car battery, or a broken brake switch.

1. Dead Car Battery

shift-lock-override-slot

A dead car battery can be the source of a multitude of car problems, since it will not be able to provide the needed power to a lot of components, including the shift lock release function. In this case, jumpstart the battery or replace it.

Here are the brief steps if you choose the first option:

  • Park another car with a working battery next to yours. Both vehicles should be off.
  • Attach the red clamps of the jumper cable to the dead battery and the working battery.
  • Hook one black clamp to the negative terminal of the functioning battery and the other clamp to your car’s engine block bolt.
  • Run the working vehicle for a few seconds before starting your car.

2. Blown Fuse

Check if you have a blown fuse and replace it. This component might be the cause of why your transmission lock release button is not working, as it would prevent the electrical system from working.

3. Faulty Cables and Bad Solenoid

park-neutral-drive-reverses

Run a visual check for any faulty cables and wiring before opting for a shift lock button replacement.

It does not hurt to test shift interlock solenoid if it is powerless. A lousy solenoid needs to be repaired if it does not power up the shift locks of your car’s gear system.

4. Problems with the Brake Switch

If you have a faulty or damaged brake switch, it will prevent the signal from the brake pedal from getting to the shift interlock solenoid, thus disabling its capacity to properly function. To solve the issue, a brake switch replacement should be done.

Automatic vs Manual Transmissions

1. Automatic Transmission

car-gear-shift-locks

An automatic transmission has gears such as Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive. The car’s system chooses the appropriate gear for you depending on your driving conditions.

The shifting of gears in an automatic transmission is also smoother compared to a clutch-controlled manual transmission.

What is the gear shifter called in an automatic car? People call this component the gear shift lever, gear selector, or simply refer to it as a shifter.

Users often consider it to be a convenient part of driving an automatic car, especially in bumper-to-bumper traffic, because of the almost effortless stopping and resumption of movement.

2. Manual Transmission

transmission-lock

On the other hand, a manual transmission has a stick shift, a brake, accelerator, and clutch that the user manually operates. The user then has control over when he chooses to shift the gears.

In terms of price, manual cars are less expensive to install and cost less when it comes to repairs. Although for sports, manual cars’ resale value may go up.

Frequently Asked Questions

test-shift-interlock-solenoid

What is the Button on the Side of My Gear Shift?

The button found on the side of your gear shifter is the Overdrive button. It lowers the engine revolutions per minute and controls the speed of the vehicle, which helps you save fuel.

What Does Shift to Park Mean?

It is a notification that tells users that the transmission is being locked up, and it does not detect the car being shifted into park mode. This could be due to a defective electrical system, defective sensors, or faulty cables.

My Nissan Altima is Stuck in Park, How do I Fix it?

In this case, you must push the shift lock release button. Open the cover for the button by using a screwdriver, and push the button while moving the shift lever to the neutral position or into other gears. Remember to lock the ignition and apply the parking brake first.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace Gear Shifters?

The price of gear shifters varies for each car model. But should you need to replace the gear cables of the shifter, the cost for this would range from $200 to $600.

Here are a few examples of how much a gear shifter would cost online. A shifter for Ford Fusion costs around $112.09.

For Honda Accord, a gear shifter knob would cost you around $30.

How Much Will it Cost to Replace Shift Interlock Solenoid?

The price for this varies depending on your location. For Chevy Aveo, the solenoid parts cost around $30 or $86 to $98. The labor can cost you around $44.

For Honda Civic, the replacement for the shift interlock solenoid costs around $126. The parts would cost around $31, and the labor fee would be about three times that at $95.

What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Gear Selector for Mercedes?

When you have a bad gear selector for Mercedes, you would hear unusual noises or clicking sounds when you shift gears.

You may also experience a difficult time shifting gears, and it will feel rough contrary to your usual smooth driving on the road. Your car might enter into limp mode to avoid damaging your bags.

Which Manuel Cars Can You Still Get in 2023?

Here are the manual cars which you can get this year: 2023 BMW M3 and M4, 2023 Hyundai Elantra N, 2023 Kia Forte, 2023 Nissan Versa, and 2023 Nissan Z.

Conclusion

Now that you have learned about the shift lock release, it is easy to appreciate this feature. It helps you select your desired gear if your car dies in the middle of the road, so you can have it parked in a safe place.

We hope we were able to answer the question and provide helpful information on what is the shift lock release and how to use it.

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