Kia Won't Come Out of Park

DIY Cost: $0
Est. Time: 5 min
Difficulty: Easy
This tutorial will help owners of Kia vehicles (such as Niro, Borrego, K9, Forte, Cerato, Optima, Cadenza, Sportage, Sorento, Venga, Carens, Rondo) manually get their car out of Park.

To get manually get your Kia out of Park, you will need a flathead Screwdriver. 

 

kia stuck in park how to unlock without key

  1. Set the parking brakes and keep the brake pedal pressed during this procedure, or the vehicle may include roll-off. 
  2. Next to the shifter, you will notice a small cap that says: SHIFT LOCK. Remove the cap to access the shifter lock mechanism.
  3. Insert a screwdriver into the access hole and push down. 
  4. As you press down on the screwdriver, at the same time, move the shifter.

Why won't the shifter move out of Park on my Kia? 

First, we need to ensure that the brake pedal sends a signal to the shifter, and the shifter mechanism is releasing the shifter from P.

  • Start by turning the key to the ON position.
  • All dashboard lights should be on.
  • Press the brake pedal on and off several times repeatedly.
  • You should hear a clicking noise by the shifter.

If you hear a click in the shifter, but your car still doesn't come out of Park, you likely have a defective shifter module.

Why is my Kia stuck in Park? 

Here is a list of the most common problems that can cause your Kia shifter to get stuck in the park position. 

  • Brake Light Switch - A defective brake light switch can stop your Kia from being able to get out of the park. This is a common problem. If your brake light switch is defective, it needs to be replaced. Kia brake light switches are very inexpensive and can be replaced at home. Replacing the brake light switch is a straightforward process. No programming is required to change the brake light switch.
  • The ignition tumbler is worn out - The ignition switch starts your car and, at the same time, locks the steering wheel. Shift interlock solenoid is part of the ignition lock. That's why the transmission cannot be shifted out of the park when the key is removed. This is a less common problem but still a possibility.
  • Defective shifter - If the brake light switch is not the problem next, you should diagnose the shifter mechanism. Inside the shifter mechanism, there are many small moving parts, micro switches, and a locking motor. If any of these parts fail, you won't be able to get your Kia out of the park. Remove the boot around the shifter and inspect for any broken parts.

Under normal operating conditions, you should be able to get the car out of Park following these steps:

  • turn the ignition to ACC or ON position AND
  • Press the brake pedal.

If your Kia does not come out of the park under these conditions, that means there is a problem with your car.


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Comments

Visitor
When i stop and set the park position p theres a movement and i heard click on shifter and its stop to moving. Its always happen when i switch to park.
Visitor
My 2012 KIA Sorento has the same problem. When I was able to force it out of Park (I was freaking out in a drive thru). I could not get it back into park again. I followed your directions to remove the cap and override the shifter with a screwdriver. Worked like a charm. Thank you for the tip! I was in a bit of a panic.

I discovered one other item that can prevent the shifter from being moved into or out of the park position; The release button mechanism of the shifter handle may be jammed. 

On our 2014 Kia Sedona, the button on the shift knob could no longer be fully depressed, leaving it stuck in park. The override procedure did not work. By removing the cover from the shifter console, I was able to verify that the safety interlock solenoid was working by pressing and releasing the brake pedal while the vehicle idled. This solenoid operates the same release mechanism as the override.

I was able to remove the handle from the shifter stem by unscrewing the two Phillips screws on the back. The button was still jammed after removing the handle from the stem, but pressing down on the inner rod of the stem the allowed the shifter to operate normally. Turning the handle upside down revealed the rattle of loose parts inside, and the button was finally able to be fully depressed, but turning the handle right side up caused the button to jam again.

I removed the ink cartridge from a Bic stick pen, and placed it over the inner rod to create a temporary shift button. (The body of the pen can be easily shortened as needed).

The top of the rod is cut flat, so to make the shift button operate more smoothly, I removed a rounded button from the top of a retractable pen, placed it on top of the rod to as a sort of bushing. Then I replaced the original handle with a universal-fit version from the auto parts store for less than $20. Tips: Add a very small amount of grease to the top of the rod or bushing to make the button operate a little smoother, and do NOT push down on the replacement handle when installing it.

Michelle

Thank you for your help. I was stuck on my way to work and your advice really was a life saver.

Kia Won't Come Out of Park