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Car Won't Go Into Park

Your Car Won’t Go Into Park – 4 Causes & Solutions

The destination is here! It’s time to get out of your car and join the crowd. Unfortunately, you can’t leave it if your car won’t go into park. What should you do now?

Problems with cars don’t always occur on the road. It’s stressful, too, to struggle with the park mode. In this case, the transmission system or gearbox may malfunction. Let us help you out.  

How Does The System Work?

There is a letter “P” on your car’s gearbox, whether it’s automatic or manual. It stands for “Park Transmission” and helps your vehicle stop temporarily. 

The working process of this system differs depending on which type of mechanism your car has. There are two cases:

  • Automatic transmission : This system has only one fixed gear lever attached to the manual valve. There are also connecting cables within the system.
  • Manual transmission: The structure of this process is more complex. It has two different connecting cables for horizontal and vertical rods. Besides, there are two gear levers for the gearbox, one for the up-and-down and one for the left-and-right movements. 

Why Your Car Won't Go Into Park

Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Go Into Park

Sometimes, the transmission system fails due to its built-in components, such as the cable or gear lever. When the shifter won’t go into park, check for these potential causes. 

Transmission Cable Issue

When your automatic car won’t go into park, the transmission cable should be one of the first things you want to check. 

The transmission cable connects the gear lever to the transmission system. It’s in charge of all the activities of the P number. 

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However, the cable degrades over time and will finally break down. Then, the gear lever can’t work, and you can’t put your car into the P mode. 

Another problem with the transmission cable is stretching. This cable can stretch to some extent. However, if you tense it too much, it will lose its flexibility. The upper part, therefore, can’t handle its transmission task properly. 

Besides, when overstretched, the transmission cable will finally break. Your car doesn’t allow for the P number, and you will also face other issues, such as incorrect engine operation. 

Solenoid Transmission Issue

The solenoid distributes oil to the internal areas of the gearbox. This process is important because all mechanical components need lubricating fluids to run efficiently and extend their lifespan. 

The lack of solenoids will make the moving components in the transmission system brush against each other. The excess friction will make the system fail.

Furthermore, the damage will stop your car from going into park. Sometimes, your car can’t change gears. It’s such a nightmare if you are still driving on the road and this problem arises. 

Gear Lever Issue

Sometimes the situation is simple: You can’t enter the P mode because the gearshift lever doesn’t allow you to do so. For example, if you pull it too hard and accidentally break it, the damage will affect all numbers, not just the P. 

Physical damage is the direct cause of the broken gear lever. It will come loose over time and finally fail to perform its task.

Furthermore, the gearshift may get stuck when you drop something, like food or coins, on the lever. This problem is common if you travel with kids. 

Then, those items slip into the P number slot, immobilizing the mechanism. As a result, your car can’t shift into park. 

Ignition Key Tumbler Issue

A worn key tumbler lets the car key turn and start your engine. If your car has a steering lock connected to the ignition cylinder, the worn cylinder will lead to several problems.

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More specifically, if you insert the key into the worn cylinder, you can’t turn your key because it doesn’t contact the drive’s teeth. You won’t be able to put your automobile into gear as a result. 

What To Do When My Car Won't Go Into Park

What To Do When My Car Won’t Go Into Park?

If your car can’t shift into park, the best solution is to take it to the nearest garage. However, before going that far, you can consider these quick methods. 

Park Your Car Without Gear P

You can still dump your vehicle without setting it into P mode. Here are some steps for this manipulation task:

  • Locate the gearshift area and front latch. 
  • Detach the park mechanism. 
  • After terminating the protective layer, you can see the joints inside. 
  • Adjust the joint length to the appropriate level. 
  • Reinstall the protective layer. 
  • Set your car in the P gear. But now, the system goes into N (Neutral) gear automatically. In other words, you have an automatic car without park gear. 

Fix The Connecting Cables

What to do if car won’t go into park? If the connecting cables prevent your car from shifting into park, here is how to fix them:

  • Raise the front part of your vehicle.
  • Find the connecting cables. 
  • Ask your friend to start the engine and shift your car into N gear. 
  • Observe how the mechanism works. 
  • Tighten the belt of the shift gear if it has become loose. 
  • Lower your car. 

Please note that this process is complicated and dangerous. Hence, it would help if you have professionals fix the connecting cables. 

What Is The Difference Between Park And Neutral In Automatic Cars?

Park and Neutral are two settings in the transmission system of an automatic car. However, they work differently and serve different purposes. 

When in P mode, the transmission’s parking pawl interacts with the output shaft to lock it in place. Then, your car can’t roll. We use this setting to park our car and turn off its engine. 

However, this setting can’t replace the parking brake. Instead, you must use the brake and put your car into P mode to make it stay in place safely. 

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On the other hand, the N mode disconnects the engine from the wheels. It means that your car can roll without the engine’s power. This setting is useful when you want to tow your car

How Much Is It To Fix A Faulty Transmission System?

You may need to repair or replace the transmission system when it malfunctions. If the mechanic only recommends minimal fixes and labor, you can choose to repair it. 

Repairs are more affordable than rebuilds and replacements. Depending on the severity of the transmission damage, the repair cost ranges from $300 to $1,400. 

On the other hand, the replacement cost is more expensive, between $1,800 and $3,400. You will pay for the labor fee, too.

Some examples of transmission replacement costs are:

  • Rebuilt transmission: $1,000 to $2,800
  • Used transmission: $800 to $1,300 
  • Remanufactured transmission: $1,200 to $3,400

You must take the vehicle for immediate inspection if you notice any abnormality in its transmission. The malfunctioning gearbox will affect your car’s overall performance. In the worst cases, it causes dangerous situations, such as sudden stops and power loss. 

Moreover, the gearbox contains many delicate mechanical details. Although the cost to repair the transmission system is one of the most expensive repairs you may get, do not make the situation worse by ignoring it. 

When the damage becomes more severe, you will pay a huge cost to repair those auto parts. And please remember that your life costs more than anything else. 


Your car won’t go into park for various reasons, but the most common ones are the faulty transmission cables, solenoid, gear lever, and ignition key tumbler. 

After finding the cause, you should contact a qualified mechanic for help. Although you can try parking without gear P or fix the connecting cables yourself, they are short-term solutions and require technical skills. 

Hopefully, you will find this article helpful. For any further information about the P gear, please feel free to ask. Thank you for reading! 

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