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I Can't Get the Key Out of the Ignition Because My Car Will Not Engage Into Park

by Lauren Farrelly

If your vehicle does not shift into park, you will not be able to get the key out of the ignition. This is a safety feature on all cars so that if the vehicle is still in motion, the battery and engine can be safely operated. If the car cannot be shifted into park, you will need to have repairs made to the shifter belt. This can be done yourself if you are comfortable working on your own vehicle but may require the services of a mechanic.

Instruct an assistant to depress the brake pedal firmly.

Remove the shifter bezel by unscrewing the top plastic piece with a flat head screwdriver. In most cars, there is a small opening covered by a cap. Underneath this cap is the screw that needs to be removed. If you cannot locate a screw, refer to your owner's manual to find out how to remove the shifter bezel cover.

Locate the shifter cable once the shifter bezel is opened. You will see a white or black lift tab on the cable. Pull the tab up and manually move the shifter to the "Park" setting.

Release the tab and tell your assistant to release the brake. The car should be fully engaged in park now, and you should be able to safely remove the key from the ignition.

Call an auto repair shop and notify them of the issue you are having. You will more than likely need to have the shifter cable repaired, or there may be another issue with the shifter, or the transmission may need to be serviced.

Warning

  • If the cable is too damaged to be shifted into park by using the above steps or the transmission is badly damaged, the car may need to be towed or driven to a local repair shop. Since you will not be able to get the key out of the ignition because it won't shift into park, a repair shop will be able to safely disengage the engine and transmission to get the keys out and repair the problem.

Items you will need

About the Author

Lauren Farrelly has been writing and producing for television since 2003. She has experience covering sports, business news and general news events for CNBC, ESPN and Bleacher Report. Farrelly has a BA in broadcast journalism from Arizona State University.

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Photo Credits

  • The Car and the Keys image by Lucy Cherniak from Fotolia.com