How to Put a Car in Neutral Without a Key (Step by Step)

Are you without your key and would like to know how to put a car in neutral without a key in the ignition?

This can be important if your key is stolen or misplaced and you would like to move your car from one place to another.

We have here several methods to put your car in neutral without a key. This article also includes steps to help you put your car in a neutral position if you have a dead battery.

Let’s get started!

1. Make Your Car Safe to Crawl Under

This process to put your car in the neutral position requires working under your car. Hence you will have to make your car safe to work with; This can be done by placing a wheel block in the back and front of all the wheels of your car.

This ensures that your car is stable and hinders the sliding or skidding of your car. Without this process, your car has the tendency to roll either backward or forward, and this can cause accidents which can lead to injuries and lots of paperwork to secure insurance.

2. Crawl Under the Car to Locate the Transmission

You are required to crawl under your car in a calculative way. When going under your car, take with you a flashlight; this will help you easily locate the transmission section of your vehicle. This is located near the engine of your vehicle.

3. Disconnect the Transmission Cables

After you locate the transmission section of your vehicle, you will also need to locate the cables which run alongside the transmission system of your vehicle.

These cables have levers and switches attached to them, and you will have to push back the lever after disconnecting the cables to hear a click sound twice.

4. Push the car

After carrying out the step above, you are required to safely come out of your car and push the car to check if the transmission is in neutral. If the car makes a slight movement either forward or backward, this is a confirmation your car is in neutral.

How to Put a Car in Neutral Without a Key if You Have a Dead Battery

How to Put a Car in Neutral Without a Key if You Have a Dead Battery

Unlike an automatic transmission, a manual transmission vehicle would require the driver to change his drive gears with regards to the condition of your vehicle at a particular point in time.

An automatic transmission system solves the issue of taking the guesswork out by automatically switching between gears with regards to what the car needs at a point in time.

While an automatic transmission system makes things easier, the user has the potential to damage the vehicle transmission if he or she changes gears when the car doesn’t need to.

To solve the issue of accidentally moving the shift lever into a neutral position when you park on an inclined surface or shifting to reverse suddenly when in traffic, the brake-shift interlock was invented.

A brake-shift interlock is a small lever that keeps the gears in check and can be seen in cars produced after 2010 in the United States.

This feature also stops the transmission from shifting into a different position without the application of the brake. It also requires the key of your vehicle to be either in the “run” or “on” position, as the breaking circuit is required to send a release signal.

Also Read: Transmission Fluid Colors & What They Mean

How to Put a Car in Neutral Without a Key (By Bypassing Shift Lock)

How to Put a Car in Neutral Without a Key (By Bypassing Shift Lock)

With a dead battery, the key of your vehicle doesn’t function. Applying the brakes also sends no signal to the transmission system, and the shift lock in your vehicle will not disengage.

This becomes a problem when your car is not already in a neutral position because to move your car, you will need to put the gear in this position. Hence it calls for a little manual action to be performed on your vehicle.

Though not all vehicles have the shift lock, but for any vehicle with a shift lock, the process is the same. To start the process, engage the parking brake of your vehicle after turning your key to the “on” position. This will avoid the movement of your vehicle after achieving the neutral position.

Check out these steps to know how to put a car in neutral without a key by bypassing the shift lock

  1. Locate the shift lock release button of your vehicle. This is a square plastic cover in the console of your vehicle, near the shift lever or shift dial of your vehicle. You can also notice its small slot to identify it easily.
  2. If you do not see this section, check the owner’s Manuel of your vehicle for the location of the manual park release.
  3. Take off the cover of the shift lock release tab.
  4. Using a flathead screwdriver, pry off the cover carefully so as not to damage your vehicle console. Put this cover in a safe place to avoid losing it.
  5. Opening this section of your console will give you access to a small tab. Using the flathead screwdriver or a key, while pressing on the brake pedal, push the tab either down or over; this varies with the car type.
  6. If you feel excessive resistance, check the owner’s manual of your vehicle to confirm the direction to push the tab.
  7. Holding the tab, put the shift lever or dial into a neutral position like you normally would.
  8. Make sure you replace the cover when you are done, also disengage the parking brake before moving the car.
  9. When moving your car in this state, make sure you have someone inside the car to steer and apply the brakes when necessary.
  10. Furthermore, when the car is where you need it to be, return the gear to the park position and also reapply the parking brake to avoid unexpected movement of your car.

Also Read: How Long Does it Take to Rebuild a Transmission?

Frequently Asked Question

Can You Tow a Car if It Won’t Go in Neutral?

Whether in a neutral position or in gear, do not tow an automatic transmission with the driving wheel on the ground. For a front-wheel drive, lift the front wheel above the ground level, and for a rear-wheel drive, lift the rear wheel off the ground.

How Do You Put a Push Start Car in Neutral With a Dead Battery?

To perform this, the vehicle must have a manual transmission.
1. Turn the ignition switch on
2. Put the transmission in the neutral position.
3. Have someone push the car.
4. Use the left foot to depress the clutch.
5. Place transmission in third gear.
6. Use your right foot to depress the gas pedal a little and let off the clutch.
This should kick on the engine, depress the gas pedal gradually, and release the clutch. You can now drive your car away. If the car is an automatic transmission system, you can’t manually push start; it must be towed.

Can You Tow a Car Without the Keys?

If you don’t have access to the keys to a car, you can tow the vehicle. This is simply done by lifting the driving wheels off the road. For a front-wheel drive, lift the front end, while for a rare wheel drive, lift the rare wheels off the ground.

Where Is the Shift Lock Release Button?

Shift lock release is a feature that allows the driver to switch between the automatic transmission options. The shift lock button can be found on the side or top of the gear selector lever.

Can You Move an Automatic Car in Neutral?

Yes. Shift the lever into neutral or “N” and push.

Is It Hard to Push a Car in Neutral?

As long as the tires are fully inflated, pushing a car in neutral is not a hard task. Getting the motion started might be hard, but keeping it moving is easier. Moving a car uphill is a different case as you will need more help with that, whereas downhill is quite the opposite.

How Do You Move a Car That Won’t Go in Neutral?

Holding the brake release tab with the brake depressed, grab the shift lever or fail like you would (holding the button in for a lever) and shift into neutral.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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