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Troubleshooting a Honda Odyssey Locked in Park

by Joe Friedman

Edmunds ranked the Honda Odyssey as the best minivan on the market for several years straight as of 2011. Like most vehicles, its ignition switch has four positions: lock, accessory, on and start. With the switch in either of the first two positions, it's not possible to move the shift lever out of "park." If the switch is not in those two positions and the lever still won't budge, the Odyssey owner's manual details a shift-lock release procedure to manually disable the pin holding the lever up.

Ensure the driver tried to follow all the usual procedures for moving the shifter lever out of park. These steps include the simultaneous actions of placing the ignition switch to the "on" or "start" positions, depressing the brake pedal and depressing the release button on the side of the shifter. If the normal process is unsuccessful, continue with the following steps.

Pull up the parking brake.

Take the key out of the ignition switch.

Put a small cloth over the notch for the small shift-lock release panel, located next to the "P" on the shifter. Use a screwdriver to pry on the notch to remove the little panel.

Slide the ignition key into the uncovered slot. Push down on it while depressing the shifter release button and slide the shifter to the "neutral" position.

Remove the key and reinstall the small panel, ensuring the notch is on the left side.

Depress the brake pedal and start the engine normally.


  • If you need to use this procedure, your Odyssey is developing a problem. Take it to a dealer for a checkup.

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About the Author

Joe Friedman began writing in 2008 while in the U.S. Air Force as a KC-10 tanker pilot. He is now an equipment engineer in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Friedman holds a Bachelor of Science in engineering physics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a Master of Science in electrical engineering from Drexel University.

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