How to Fix the “Shift to Park” Message: A Comprehensive Guide

Have you ever encountered the frustrating “Shift to Park” message on your car’s dashboard? If so, you’re not alone. This common issue can leave drivers feeling puzzled and unsure of how to proceed. In this article, we will explore the causes behind the “Shift to Park” message and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to fix it. So, let’s dive in and get your car back on the road!

Understanding the “Shift to Park” Message

Before we delve into the solutions, it’s important to understand what the “Shift to Park” message means. This message typically appears when you try to turn off your car’s engine and remove the key, but the car’s computer system detects that the gear shift lever is not in the “Park” position. It serves as a safety feature to prevent the car from accidentally rolling away.

Common Causes of the “Shift to Park” Message

There are several potential causes for the “Shift to Park” message. Understanding these causes can help you diagnose and fix the issue more effectively. Here are some common culprits:

  • Worn-out or damaged shift interlock solenoid
  • Malfunctioning brake switch
  • Loose or damaged wiring connections
  • Defective gear shift lever assembly
  • Software glitch in the car’s computer system

Step-by-Step Guide to Fix the “Shift to Park” Message

Now that we have a better understanding of the problem, let’s explore the step-by-step process to fix the “Shift to Park” message:

Step 1: Check the Gear Shift Lever

The first thing you should do is ensure that the gear shift lever is properly in the “Park” position. Sometimes, the lever may not fully engage in the “Park” position, triggering the warning message. Wiggle the lever and make sure it is securely in place.

Step 2: Apply the Parking Brake

Engaging the parking brake can help alleviate the “Shift to Park” message. Apply the parking brake firmly before turning off the engine and removing the key. This will provide an additional layer of safety and may prevent the message from appearing.

Step 3: Inspect the Shift Interlock Solenoid

The shift interlock solenoid is responsible for preventing the gear shift lever from moving out of the “Park” position without the brake pedal being pressed. A worn-out or damaged solenoid can trigger the “Shift to Park” message. Here’s how you can inspect it:

  1. Locate the shift interlock solenoid, usually located near the gear shift lever.
  2. Inspect the solenoid for any visible signs of damage or wear.
  3. If you notice any issues, such as a broken wire or a burnt-out solenoid, it may need to be replaced.

Step 4: Check the Brake Switch

The brake switch is another crucial component that can trigger the “Shift to Park” message. This switch detects when the brake pedal is pressed and allows the gear shift lever to move out of the “Park” position. Follow these steps to inspect the brake switch:

  1. Locate the brake switch, usually positioned near the top of the brake pedal.
  2. Check if the switch is properly aligned and not loose.
  3. If the switch appears damaged or misaligned, it may need to be replaced.

Step 5: Examine Wiring Connections

Loose or damaged wiring connections can also cause the “Shift to Park” message. Inspect the wiring connections related to the shift interlock solenoid and brake switch. Look for any loose or corroded wires and ensure they are securely connected. If you find any issues, repair or replace the affected wiring.

Step 6: Consult a Professional

If you have followed the previous steps and the “Shift to Park” message still persists, it may be time to seek professional help. A certified mechanic or dealership technician will have the expertise and specialized equipment to diagnose and fix the issue accurately.


The “Shift to Park” message can be a frustrating problem to deal with, but armed with the knowledge and steps outlined in this guide, you can resolve it effectively. Remember to check the gear shift lever, apply the parking brake, inspect the shift interlock solenoid and brake switch, examine wiring connections, and consult a professional if needed. By following these steps, you’ll be back on the road in no time!


Q1: Can I drive my car with the “Shift to Park” message?

A1: It is not recommended to drive your car with the “Shift to Park” message. This message indicates that the gear shift lever is not in the proper position, and attempting to drive in this state can be dangerous.

Q2: Why does the “Shift to Park” message appear intermittently?

A2: The intermittent appearance of the “Shift to Park” message could be due to loose wiring connections or a faulty sensor. It is important to address this issue promptly to prevent any potential safety hazards.

Q3: Can I fix the “Shift to Park” message myself?

A3: While some simple fixes, such as checking the gear shift lever and applying the parking brake, can be done by car owners, more complex issues may require professional assistance. It is always recommended to consult a certified mechanic or dealership technician for a proper diagnosis and repair.

Q4: How much does it cost to fix the “Shift to Park” message?

A4: The cost of fixing the “Shift to Park” message can vary depending on the underlying cause and the labor rates in your area. Simple fixes, such as adjusting the gear shift lever or replacing a brake switch, may cost less, while more complex issues, such as a faulty solenoid or wiring problems, can be more expensive to repair.

Q5: Can a software update fix the “Shift to Park” message?

A5: In some cases, a software glitch in the car’s computer system can trigger the “Shift to Park” message. A software update provided by the manufacturer or dealership may resolve the issue. It is advisable to consult a professional to determine if a software update is necessary.

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