There are a few reasons why an automatic transmission may become harder to shift out of park. Whatever the reason is, you should get it checked at Orozco’s Auto Service of Long Beach as soon as possible to avoid complications.
The most likely possibility is that your shift interlock feature, which prevents you from shifting out of park without the brake pedal depressed, is malfunctioning. If the shift interlock switch is too worn to release fully, or not receiving a signal, then you may not be able to shift out of park at all. This can be caused by grease, dirt, and moisture collecting on the switches or cables. In this case, it is usually harder to shift with a cold engine, because as the engine warms up, the buildup may become softer and offer less resistance. In this situation, most cars have an emergency shift lock release button that will still allow you to shift. In some cases, the shift lock release button is recessed, and you may need a screwdriver, key, or other tool to engage it. In vehicles with column shifters, this button may be on the top or bottom of the steering column. You should consult your owner’s manual if you cannot find it.
Another reason why your transmission may be hard to shift out of park is grease or corrosion on your shift cable or linkage. Low transmission fluid may also cause hard shifting, but in this case your transmission’s overall performance will most likely be affected, and it will be noticeably more sluggish or shift harder into every gear. Another possibility is if you parked on an incline and failed to engage your parking brake before releasing the brake pedal. The weight of the vehicle rolling onto the parking pawl will make it harder to shift out of park, and put more wear on the parking pawl, which may even eventually break. For this reason, you should always use your parking brake when you park your car, even if you are not on an incline, and engage it before releasing your brake pedal. This will ensure that your parking brake bears the load instead of the transmission, and help prevent excessive wear on your transmission.
If you have any questions or concerns about your transmission, call our certified mechanics today at