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How to Put a Car Into Neutral When the Battery Is Dead

by Leonardo R. Grabkowski

Modern vehicles have electronic ignitions; most of them also have electronic shift lock, often included as a safety or anti-theft feature. This presents a problem if your battery is dead; without power, the electronic shift lock cannot disengage with the key in the ignition. All vehicles with electronic shift lock have a manual override, allowing you to bypass the feature in emergencies.

Step 1

Set your parking brake for safety. Some vehicles use a handbrake next to your gear selector; others use a pedal brake, which is usually to the left of your brake pedal.

Step 2

Locate and engage the shift lock override. Vehicles with electronic shift lock have manual overrides. Look for a tiny, removable panel on your shift selector. Pry this panel up with a flathead screwdriver. Insert the screwdriver into the hole to engage the manual shift lock override.

Step 3

Insert your key into the ignition; turn it to the "On" or "Acc" position.

Depress the brake pedal completely. Move the shift selector to neutral.

Tip

  • If your vehicle does not have a manual shift lock override, it does not have an electronic shift lock. Follow the procedure, omitting the manual override step.

Warning

  • Don't forget to engage your parking brake; your vehicle could roll forward or backwards without it.

Items you will need

  • Flathead screwdriver

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