Did shifter stick 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 is stuck in Park (P)and refuse to go to D or N.
- Stuck in D, R, and 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 the transmission won’t go into gear.
- The shifter can not be returned to Park (P), and you can’t remove the key from the ignition.
- P, N, R, and D gear selection indicators on the dashboard not displaying the correct gear.
Mercedes-Benz cars that are equipped with automatic transmissions 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 the 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 the 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 being 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 the 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. A common symptom when the brake light switch fails and you can’t get the car out of the 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 the 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 for a mechanic. Here are several Group 94 batteries on Amazon that is an 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 the position I, II or engine running. Once you turn the key to any of these positions the shifter is unlocked from the park, via a cable or electronic switch. If the cable or the ignition switch itself fails the shifter may get stuck in the 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 to 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 the Park position and remove the keys.
In the following video, we will show you how to manually get a C-Class W203 out of the park. The instructions are similar for other Mercedes-Benz models including E, C, S, CL, CLK, CLS, ML, GL, GLK, and SLK Class. Just look around the shifter module 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 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 the 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 ignition is activating the interlock mechanism and allows the gear selector lever to be moved out of PARK.
Read trouble codes. Get 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 pay for themselves. Here is YOUCANIC full system scanner 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 the 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 an 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. The shift interlock mechanism is a safety feature on your car. It prevents the car from accidentally 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 I still, can’t get my Mercedes-Benz out of the 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 your Mercedes-Benz out of the 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 the park. Watch the video in this article on How to get an S-Class out of the Park.
What is the Best OBD-II Scanner for Mercedes-Benz Vehicles?
If you’re experiencing problems with your Mercedes-Benz, using a YOUCANIC full system diagnostic scanner can help you troubleshoot the issues. This advanced diagnostic tool can read and interpret the fault codes stored in your car’s computer system, providing detailed information about any problems with the engine, transmission, brakes, or other critical systems.
The YOUCANIC scanner can also perform diagnostic tests on various systems, including the ABS, airbag, and steering systems, to help pinpoint the root cause of any issues. With this information, you can make more informed decisions about repairs and maintenance, potentially saving time and money on costly repairs.
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Thank you Mercedesmedic. I stopped for coffee this morning on the way to work. Once back in the car only to find shifter stuck in park. Omg, I walked the rest of the way to work. I found your site and saw a short video. Showed hitting the shifter with a mallet to release. I tried and it did not work. On the third whack it released. I am so happy. One shop told me at least $1200 and another told me at least a week. Both would have been a serious inconvenience especially a week before Christmas. Again, thank you Mercedesmedic and whoever found this to work. I appreciate all of you. Merry Christmas.
My 2001 W210 won’t shift out of park just only when engine start at the first time of day after turn off engine for about 10 hour. I have to wait about 2-3 minute after engine start before it can shift out of P. It didn’t happen when come back after turn off engine just for 2-3 hour. The brake lights work properly.
Have a 2007 E350 S. Mil 143,000. Changed spark plugs. Drove 5 miles. Parked car for 20 min. Restarted car and it will not go forward or reverse. Gear shift will go into the gears but car does not move. When in neutral it will roll. Also the gear indicators beside the ODO come on for a couple of seconds then shut off.
2008 w221 s550 service required do not shift gears warning message on dash, can you Help please?
Is it stuck in limp mode? Read the transmission codes with a scanner that can pull transmission codes from your Mercedes-Benz. A basic OBD2 scanner won’t work.
My benz ML320 shifter cannot change when am driving, the shifter stalled on one gear.
My mercedes s500 model 2006 its not run and written for me shift fpr Por N but the gear stuck not work
Absolutely brilliant… I am engineer finished my shift 12 hours…got in car wouldn’t go into Drive, it starts to rain ! Checked brake lights… I knew there would be an over ride…. google it, found this site…… 15 minutes later car in drive all sorted 😊
The centre console was a bit of a trick to get off, hence the 15 min , as engineer all I need is the facts, which I got in first sentence 👏👏👏 in true F1 style
Thank you MB Medic
Where can I buy shifter interlock solenoid for w203?
W203 Floor Shifter Module
How do I replace and where is the location of the brake shift interlock solenoid as my 2001 Mercedes CLK320 wont shift out of park but the brake lights work. I depressed the pedal and did not hear a clicking sound, I think its the brake shift interlock solenoid of a fuse. can you assist with both or either?
Just looking to see if the brakes work doesn’t mean the brake light switch is good. The brake light switch has two or more integrated switches inside. Only one of them is for the brake lights. Just replace it (with a new one), its cheap enough.