Shifter stuck in Park? You start your Mercedes-Benz but realize that the transmission gear selector won’t move out of Park. The shifter can’t be moved from Park (P) to Drive (D). Or you turn off the car but can’t move the shifter back to Park. Don’t panic; this is typically not a transmission problem. In this article, we will show you how to get the car out of park manually and how to troubleshoot gear selector shifter problems yourself. We discuss the common Mercedes-Benz stuck in park problems.
Mercedes Shifter Stuck in Park Problem
Your car starts fine, but when you try to move the shifter into Drive, the car won’t shift. You notice that the shifter is stuck and hesitates to move. Here is a list of typical symptoms related to the automatic transmission shifter stuck.
- Mercedes stuck in Park (P)and refuse to go to D or N.
- Stuck in D, R, N and will not move back to Park (P).
- Can’t remove keys from the ignition.
- Mercedes transmission won’t go into drive.
- Mercedes E, S, C, ML Class gear shift stuck in park.
- Mercedes will start, but transmission won’t go into gear.
- Shifter can not be returned to Park (P), and you can’t remove the key from ignition.
- P,N,R,D gear selection indicator on dashboard not displaying correct gear.
Mercedes-Benz cars that are equipped with automatic transmission have a gear selector shifter interlock safety feature. This safety feature locks the shifter in Park when you turn off the ignition. If you need to move the shifter out of Park and into Drive, you need to reinsert the key into the ignition and turn it to position I or II.
The interlock mechanism will allow the shifter to move out of PARK when both of these conditions are met:
- Turn ignition to Position, I, II or Run.
- Press the brake pedal.
Common Causes – Shifter Stuck in Park
Here is a list of the most common reasons why the gear selector does not move out or Park.
- Defective Brake Light Switch
- Low Voltage or Dead Battery
- Spilled Liquid on the shifter assembly
- Defective shift interlock solenoid
- Faulty Engine Control Unit (ECU) or Transmission Control Unit (TCU)
- Transmission Shift Cable Broken or Shift Rod Bent / Loose
If the shifter on your Mercedes-Benz will not move out of park, the first thing your should check is the battery. Once you confirm the battery is fully charged the two most common problems are a defective brake light switch or a shifter module is damaged.
Brake Light Switch
Brake light switche fail very frequently and are the most common cause of transmission stuck in Park problem. The shifter will not be released unless you press the brake pedal which is proper operation, required by Federal Law as well. Once the brake light switch stops working properly the shifter doesn’t know if you are pressing the brake pedal or not. Therefore it will get stuck in park. You may be tempted to check if the brake lights are working to confirm that the brake light switch is working or not. This is not a good test to troubleshoot if the brake light switch is working or not. Common symptom when the brake light switch fails and you can’t get the car out of park is that the ESP, ABS or BAS lights will also turn on. This is an indication that the brake light switch may need to be replaced. Read this article on How to replace the brake light switch on a Mercedes-Benz.
Gear Shifter Assembly
The shifter assembly (gear shift module) may fail due to wear or internal failure. The shift interlock solenoid which is located inside the shifter assembly can fail or quit working. Plastic parts inside the shifter can break. In this case, you will need to manually get the car out of park until you get the part replaced.
Hint: If you look at the gear selector on your instrument cluster, and it doesn’t display the current shifter position such as P, R, N, D, it is a good indication that the shifter module is defective.
One common reason for the shifter not getting out of park is low battery voltage or dead battery. If your battery is dead, replace it before you proceed with other repairs. Replacing the battery on your car is very easy, and you can replace it yourself without the need of a mechanic. Here are several Group 94 batteries on Amazon that are exact fit for most Mercedes-Benz cost and cost a lot less than the battery that you buy at the dealer
The ignition switch needs to be in position I, II or engine running. Once you turn the key to any of these positions the shifter is unlocked from park, via a cable or electronic switch. If the cable or the ignition switch itself fails the shifter may get stuck in park.
How to Manually Release Shifter Stuck in Park
Do not force the shifter into gear. You could break other parts by forcing the car into drive. Instead, try the following steps to manually get your car out of the park. You can also use the same procedure to get the shifter from Neutral or Reverse into Park position and remove the keys.
In the following video we will show you how to manually get a C-Class W203 out of park. The instructions are similar for other Mercedes-Benz models including E, C, S, CL, CLK, CLS, ML, GL, GLK, SLK Class. Just look around the shifter moudle for an access hole. It will be covered with a plastic cap in most cases.
Step-by-step instruction on how to get your Mercedes out of park
- Start by pressing the emergency brakes on your car.
- Insert the key into the ignition and turn it to Position, I, II or start the car. Starting the car is not necessary but optional.
- Press the brake pedal and keep them pressed while you are following these instructions to ensure that the car does not roll away while you are trying to get it out of Park.
- Find the gear shifter lock / override on the center console. It typically is near the shifter lever. In most cases, you will see a small plastic cap that is covering this port.
- Remove the small plastic cover. Typically this is used to store coins. Lift it up using a flat screwdriver.
- Use a screwdriver, pen, or similar object to press on the manual release switch. Push on the override switch and hold.
- Use the screwdriver to push the unlock tab to manually release the shifter.
Troubleshooting a shifter that is stuck and won’t go into drive
Turn the key to position II and press the brake pedal a few times. As you press the brake pedal, the solenoid inside the shifter releases the shifter from Park. Listen carefully for a click sound by the shifter module. You may be able to hear the solenoid unlock. If you can hear the click that is a good sign. The igntion is activating the interlock mechanism and allowing the gear selector lever to be moved out of PARK.
Read trouble codes. Get a hold of an advanced diagnostic scanner and read the trouble codes. Ask your friends who own Mercedes-Benz if any of them owns a Star Diagnostic Scanner. If not, consider getting a diagnostic scanner, they are affordable, easy to use and it pays for itself. Here is one of the best OBD2 scanners for Mercedes-Benz. It will scan most control units on your Mercedes-Benz and point you to the problem. Using an OBD2 scanner is very easy even if you have never used one before.
Next, remove the brake light switch and troubleshoot it using a digital multimeter. If you don’t know how to use a multimeter, consider replacing the brake light switch instead of testing it. The brake light switch is very inexpensive if you get it from Amazon. Click here to check the best price on Mercedes-Benz brake lights.
If the Mercedes-Benz shifter is still stuck and transmission can not be moved out of park position. It is possible that the shifter selector module is defective. This could be due to a plastic shifter inside the shifter that has broken or drinks getting spilled on the center console. This is a common problem with Mercedes-Benz S-Class W220 S430, S500 and CL-Class models such as CL500 and CL600. If you have a S-Class or CL-Class and are handy with tools, you can open the shifter module and replace the broken plastic inside. You can buy a Mercedes Benz S-Class W220 Automatic Shift Gear Repair Kit on Amazon.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the shifter interlock feature required?
Yes. Shift interlock mechanism is a safety feature on your car. It prevents the car from accidently getting out of Park unless the ignition is turned on and the car brake pedal is pressed.
Do all Mercedes-Benz cars have a shifter unlock / override mechanism?
Yes all Mercedes-Benz cars 200o and newer have a shifter lock feature.
Tried the manual release but still, can’t get my Mercedes-Benz out of park.
Try using a different object to manually release the shifter.
Can I lubricate the shifter mechanism?
You need to be very careful if you decide to lubricate parts of the shifter mechanism. Do not get any liquid n the electronic components of the shifter. You can lubricate the moving parts including the ball and metal steam. If you are not sure what to lubricate, do not try to do this.
How can I get my Mercedes-Benz out of PARK in order to tow it?
Use the method described above to get you Mercedes-Benz out of park.
I can’t find a shifter release on my Mercedes-Benz.
Some models such as S-Class W220 and CL-Class didn’t have a hole for you to manually release the shifter from Park. They can still be manually moved into park. Watch the video on this article on How to get an S-Class out of Park.
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