What Is Shift Lock Release And How To Use It?

As we know the facts about transmission, there are two kinds – manual and automatic. Those cars which run on manual transmission also have a clutch that the driver needs to push each time to shift the gear. The number of gears depends on the size of the engine. A manual transmission car, however, doesn’t have the shift lock release mechanism.

An automatic transmission has it. It is, nevertheless, quite different from manual transmission. This is why people who are used to either kind of transmission find it difficult to drive a car with another transmission.

What Is Shift Lock Release?

Process of shift lock release
Mechanism of shift lock release (Photo: Nissan Owner Channel @ Youtube)

This mechanism of shift lock and its release is present in cars with automatic transmissions because the functionality of both is pretty much different. Here, there is no need to shift the gears manually.

They do have a gear shift though. This gear shift, however, is used for switching among options like reverse, parking, neutral, etc. To shift between these options, you have the shift lock release options. 

In case when the car is off, you cannot move the gear lever, open the Shift Lock button by holding the button with a hard object such as a key.

For example, unfortunately when your car is out of battery and the gear lever is at P, then you need to use Shift Lock to change the gear lever. So the rescuers can move the vehicle or you can push it from one place to another.

You can usually locate it on the lever itself. It is actually a button. It allows you to switch to an option, says parking, and then lets you lock it till you switch to another one. However, depending on the vehicle, Shift Lock is located in different positions.

Normally, the button is designed to be raised so that when in use, the driver presses his finger and can move it without starting the engine. In some other automatic transmission cars, Shift Lock is placed on the inside, the outside is protected by a small, plastic cover.

Therefore, when using it, you need to open it by prying open it or opening it with a key or a knife, or a screwdriver. Then, unless you release the shift lock, you will not be able to do shift lock override.

However, there are many cars that use automatic transmissions but are not equipped with Shift Lock buttons, the reason is that some modern cars today are mostly equipped with electronic control gear levers.

When encountering a problem such as running out of fuel or a dead engine, they only have one solution which is to call the emergency service to switch gears.

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How to Use Shift Lock Release?

Usually, when the car has a problem due to flooding, collision, or running out of power, how do you usually handle it?

If you do not know the Shift Lock button, you must ask the help of a rescuer, or pull the car from another location. However, if you know how to use this button, you can move the car without starting the engine.

As it is a button, a shift lock release button specifically, all you need to do is press it. When you press the button, it will cause the lock to release, thus allowing you to shift the lever to the desired option. As you release the lock, the lever will move as you desire.

Now all you need to do is choose the option that you need to put the transmission in, and then press the button again. Pressing the button again will let you lock the lever on that setting.

Also, it is a safety function that helps you move your car when the gear shift won’t move from one setting to another. Follow these simple steps to use shift lock release when the gear selector isn’t working:

  • The very first thing – put on the parking brake.
  • Now, pull the key out of the ignition.
  • Take a flat-head screwdriver or something that can do a similar job. Try to bring the cap off of the gear shift lock cover. It will be to the upper right of the gear selector.
  • Once you have removed the cover, insert the key into this slot.
  • Now push the key down gently. Simultaneously, pull on the button situated at the front of the gearshift. This will let you move out of the parking.
  • Pull the key out.
  • Replace the cover like it was before.
  • Insert the key back into the ignition and press the brake pedal.
  • Now, simply crank the engine.
Steps for shift lock release
The exact way to use shift lock release (Photo: Topspeed.com)

The exact way to use shift lock release is always mentioned in your owner’s manual of your car. For those who are not acquainted with automatic transmission, this mechanism may seem superfluous at first, but those who know how to drive an automatic car know that it is very much important from a safety point of view.

In manual transmission, since the driver has all the control in their hands, a mechanism like this is never a necessity. However, in a vehicle where the control is in the hands of the vehicle, shift lock release is indeed a necessity.

Sum Up

In other words, a shift Lock is a function that helps the driver to move the gear lever in case the vehicle runs out of power or because of a problem that cannot be moved in the usual way.

This mechanism may seem unnecessary to manual car owners, but those who know how to drive autonomously know that it is very important in emergencies. Therefore, the driver must understand the use and function of the button to use in different situations.