How To Put A Chevy Malibu In Neutral

A Chevy Malibu is a great car to start with when you want a gentle ride, an impressive engine option, a spacious cabin, and a user-friendly infotainment system. A Malibu does offer a list of incredible features any driver would want! But if you're wondering how to put the car in neutral, you're on the right page. We researched all the answers to bring them to you! 

To put the Chevy Malibu in neutral, all you need to do is push your brake pedal fully and shift your gear knob into neutral. Then you're all set and good to go!

Depending on the situation, you might sometimes need to put your car in neutral. Thankfully, it's not that difficult to put the Malibu in neutral. Keep reading to learn more about this feature.

Interior design of the modern car, How To Put A Chevy Malibu In Neutral

The Purpose Of Neutral Gear

In an automatic transmission system, like the one a Chevy Malibu has, the neutral gear disengages the engine from the wheels. You'll still have control over its direction with the steering wheel.  

Put a gear stick into N position, (Neutral)

If you have to move your Malibu by any means other than the engine, it needs to be put in neutral. 

Additionally, neutral gears help automatic transmission gears to smoothly run from the drive position to the reverse position. In cases where your car brakes aren't working properly, shifting into neutral gear helps it slow down. 

Some situations where shifting to neutral gear is applicable are as follows: 

  • Towing your car
  • Pushing it out of a snow pile 
  • Riding through an automatic car wash
  • Stopping the car with a stuck throttle

Putting A Chevy Malibu In Neutral

A 2021 Chevrolet Malibu Sedan at a dealership



Here are two ways to put your Malibu in neutral: 

Without A Key

In the event that you lost your car key, you can do the following steps to put your Chevy Malibu in neutral: 

  1. Hold the start button down for at least five seconds. You'll automatically see the car turn into run mode. The gauges should start up and other electrical functions will come alive. 
  2. Press the brake after successfully seeing it in run mode and put the car in neutral. 

When Battery Is Dead

To put your Chevy Malibu in neutral in the event of a dead battery or without starting the engine, you can follow these guidelines: 

  1. Set the parking brake for safety. If possible, attach wheel clocks on both sides of the tires to prevent unexpected movement of the car. 
  2. Find the shift lock override and activate it. 
  3. The Chevy Malibu has an electronic manual shift lock override. Using a flathead screwdriver, open the removable panel in your shift selector to locate the shift lock. 
  4. Engage the manual shift lock override by inserting the screwdriver into the hole. 
  5. Insert the key into the ignition and turn it on. 
  6. Depress the brake pedal and move the shift selector to neutral. 

Take a look at this video by TowMan127 as he demonstrates how to put a Chevy Malibu into neutral: 

For more details on how Malibu's car system works, you may also want to read: Chevy Malibu Saying Shift To Park—What’s Wrong? 

Are There Disadvantages In Using Neutral Gear?

The only major disadvantage that comes with using neutral gear is you will have less control over the car.  

So, for you to be prepared for sudden emergencies, you can start by applying neutral gear as practice. It can be life-saving in some cases. 

How Does The Chevy Malibu Shift Lock Release Work? 

Put a gear stick into R position, (Reverse)

Cars manufactured from 2010 to the present day have a safety feature called a shift lock release. 

There are two types of transmissions that we all know: manual and automatic. 

The shift lock release button is usually found either on top or on the side of the gear selector lever in the Chevy Malibu, depending on the year model. This feature allows you to lock the gears of your choice.

For instance, when you put your gear selector lever into park, the shift lock release locks it in there. One thing to remember is that you can't move the lever until you draw the shift lock release mechanism. 

The brake pedal is connected to the shift lock release. If you press on the brakes, the shift lock circuit engages. If not, it remains close. 

For more tips on shift lock release, check out Motoring TV's video below:

What Happens When The Neutral Safety Switch Goes Bad?

Automatic transmissions are designed with a neutral safety switch. This is a safety component that prevents the engine from starting specifically when shifting gears aside from park and neutral.

For instance, when you shift into drive and start the engine, the neutral safety switch operates and prevents the engine from starting immediately so that the car won't roll forward. 

In automatic transmissions, the neutral safety switch is usually found inside the case of the transmission or in a linkage that enables changing gears. 

In manual transmissions, the neutral safety switch is integrated into the vehicle's clutch to prevent the engine from starting. 

Every time your vehicle is in neutral or park, the neutral safety switch allows the ignition to send an electrical current to the ignition system and starter motor. 

So, what happens when the neutral safety switch goes bad? First, let's go over some symptoms of a bad neutral safety switch to help you be keen enough to observe your vehicle in case this issue occurs. 

No Crank When In Park And In Neutral

If you set your gear to park and the engine doesn't crank despite the key ignition turned on, this is a common symptom of a bad neutral safety switch. The same symptom could also mean that you have a bad car battery or starter. 

At times, the engine may not crank when in park but it will be on neutral. When this happens, this is another symptom to look out for.

It's either the switch is loosened in the transmission or there are electrical malfunctions that prevent the switch from receiving power. If this happens, it's best to have it immediately checked by a mechanic. 

Cranks In Any Gear

This is one of the most evident symptoms. If the engine is running, it should crank again too. This calls for immediate attention as this could lead to dangerous car accidents, especially if the cranking happens when you're driving. 

To put an end to all the cranking because of the neutral safety switch going bad, you can simply have a neutral safety switch replacement. Get a safety switch that guarantees heavy-duty performance and compatibility with your Chevy Malibu. 

Click here to see this neutral safety switch on Amazon.

The labor costs of having your safety switch replaced by a mechanic can cost you around $45 to $100. It's possible to do this all on your own too! Ratchet Wrenches' video shows a tutorial on how to do so. 

Can You Put The Malibu On Neutral While Driving? 

The driver's hand moved the gear selector to the neutral (N) mode

Driving in neutral can be dangerous. Thus, you should not shift to neutral gear when you are driving on hills, or on a highway at a great speed. 

Doing so excessively slows down the car and decreases a lot of wheel functions, which likely results in terrible accidents. This also reduces your capacity to control the car, which is incredibly risky for your part. 

For more safety tips, you might want to look at this video by the Bright Side:

In Closing 

Now that you know how to put the Chevy Malibu in neutral, you can drive with ease. Don't forget to bring along with you the safety tips when switching to neutral. Have a good ride! 

If you liked this article, you can also read the following: 

Can You Flat Tow A Chevy Malibu? [And How To]

Does Chevy Malibu Have CVT Transmission?

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