How to Put a Car in Neutral Without a Key in the Ignition

by Shannon Johnson
luxury car - model toy car image by alma_sacra from

It is beneficial to know how to put a car in neutral without a key in the ignition. If the car key is misplaced or stolen, it can still be necessary to move the vehicle. Also, if an older car is purchased for parts only, the vehicle may not come with a key. Putting a car in neutral without a key is not a skill that most people possess. Automobile mechanics and tow truck operators frequently use the technique. For average drivers, learning how to move a vehicle without a key can save time and frustration.

Step 1

Position wheel blocks either in front of or behind all four tires in order to safely keep the car in place. The Auto Car Repair website explains that not using wheel blocks or placing them incorrectly can cause the vehicle to roll forward or backward while it is being put into neutral. If the car begins to roll, serious injuries can occur if the car is not stopped quickly enough.

Step 2

Turn on the flashlight and carefully crawl underneath the car with the individuals back on the ground. Use the flashlight to locate the vehicle's transmission. The Auto Car Repair website explains that the transmission is usually located near the engine.

Step 3

Locate the cable that runs alongside the transmission. The correct cable has a switch and lever attached to it. Disconnect the cable and push backwards on the lever until it makes a clicking noise twice. The Auto Car Repair website explains that the lever should be pushed toward the back end of the vehicle.

Come out from underneath the car and push on the car without removing the wheel blocks. If the procedure worked correctly, the car should move slightly if it is in neutral. Once the car is successfully in neutral it can be pushed and moved to an alternate location.


  • When a car is purchased, it is advisable to check if it can be put into neutral and moved without a key in the ignition. Certain vehicles are not able to be put into neutral without a key. The Prius Chat website explains that the Prius is one car that cannot be put into neutral or moved without a key.


  • For safety reasons, it is important that at least two people work on the car while it is being put into neutral without a key. It can be beneficial to have one person sitting in the driver's seat while the car is being moved. As the car is moving, the individual will have precise control of the steering wheel and brakes which increases the safety of the process. Cars are extremely heavy and must be moved carefully in order to avoid accidents or serious injuries.

Items you will need

  • Wheel blocks
  • Flashlight
  • Open vehicle

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