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Jeep Stuck In Park And Won’t Start—What To Do

If your Jeep is stuck in the park and won't start, then it can be a frustrating experience. But don't worry, there are a few things you can try to get your Jeep unstuck and on the road again. Let's take a look at them below.

Check the following if your Jeep is stuck in park and won't start:

  • Dead Battery
  • Loose Battery Cables
  • Corroded Battery Terminals
  • Low Transmission Fluid
  • Failed Brake Light Switch
  • Wiring Issue
  • Broken Transmission Shift Cable
  • Malfunctioning Shifter Interlock
  • Faulty Ignition Switch
  • Broken Parking Pawl
  • Failed Transmission

As you can see, quite a few things can cause your Jeep to get stuck in the park and not start. But don't worry; in this article, we will discuss troubleshooting this issue to identify the root cause of the problem and get your Jeep unstuck in no time. In addition, we will answer other frequently asked questions about Jeep mechanical issues, so read on!

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A Jeep Rubicon moving down the road, Jeep Stuck In Park And Won't Start—What To Do

Jeep Stuck In Park And Won't Start—What To Do

Whether you are rock climbing or trying to make it to work on time, the last thing you want is for your Jeep to get stuck in the park and not start.

But as we mentioned earlier, there are a few things you can try to troubleshoot this issue and get your Jeep unstuck. Let's take a look at them below.

A Jeep Wrangler parked near a body of water

Check The Battery

If your Jeep is stuck in park and won't start, the first thing you should do is check the battery. A dead or dying battery is one of the most common reasons a Jeep won't start. In addition, it can cause the transmission to be stuck in park.

Open the hood of your Jeep and proceed to jumpstart it. If it starts, then you know the issue is with the battery. We recommend taking it to a mechanic or a local auto parts store to have it checked and replaced if necessary.

Once you have the vehicle started, check to see if the Jeep will shift out of the park. If it won't, then you may have something else going on.

Loose Battery Cables

Car mechanic checking the car battery

If you jumpstart the battery, but the vehicle dies again, the battery cables may be loose.

In this case, you will need to tighten them. Ensure that the cables won't wiggle off by using your hand.

Corroded Battery Terminals

It is also essential to check the battery terminals to ensure corrosion-free. Corroded terminals won't give you a good connection and will eventually stop the flow of electricity.

If you see that the terminals are corroded, use a wire brush to clean them off. You can also use a battery terminal cleaner.

Low Transmission Fluid

Car mechanic pouring new transmission fluid

If everything seems fine with your battery, the next thing you should check is the transmission fluid. A common cause of a Jeep getting stuck in the park is low transmission fluid levels.

Open the hood and find the dipstick. Pull it out and check the fluid level. If it is low, then you will need to add more. When you add more, check to see if you have a leak.

If you don't see any leaks, the issue may lie with the gasket or seal. In this case, it is best to take it to a mechanic so they can fix it.

Failed Brake Light Switch

Another reason why your Jeep may be stuck in park is due to a failed brake light switch. The brake light switch tells the transmission that the brakes are engaged and prevents it from being shifted into gear.

Start your Jeep and have someone push on the brake pedal to check if the brake light switch is the issue. You should see the brake lights turn on. If they don't, the brake light switch is bad and will need to be replaced.

Wiring Issue

If you have replaced the brake light switch and still can't get your Jeep out of the park, there may be a wiring issue. First, check your owner's manual to find the wiring diagram for your Jeep.

Once you have the diagram, locate the transmission control module. This is what controls the shifting of your Jeep. Check the wires going to and from this module to see if they are damaged or frayed.

If they are, then you will need to replace them. If not, then it is possible that the module itself is damaged and will need to be replaced.

Broken Transmission Shift Cable

If you have checked all of the above and your Jeep is still stuck in park, then the transmission shift cable may be broken.

The transmission shift cable connects the shifter to the transmission. If this cable is damaged or broken, it will need to be replaced.

Take your Jeep to a mechanic so they can diagnose the issue and replace the necessary parts.

Malfunctioning Shifter Interlock Solenoid

The solenoid is what tells the transmission when it is safe to shift gears. If it is not working properly, the Jeep will be stuck in the park.

To check if the solenoid is the issue, use a voltmeter to test the solenoid. The shifter interlock solenoid is sometimes located under the center console or on the steering wheel column. This can vary depending on the year and model of your Jeep.

Faulty Ignition Switch

A push start engine switch

Another possible reason your Jeep is stuck in the park is a faulty ignition switch. If the ignition switch is bad, it will not allow the Jeep to start and could keep the transmission from shifting into gear.

If the key is hard to turn or won't turn, the ignition switch is bad and will need to be replaced.

Broken Parking Pawl

The parking pawl keeps the Jeep from moving when it is in the park. If this pawl is broken, then the Jeep will be able to move even when it is in the park.

To check if the pawl is broken, try to move the Jeep back and forth while in park. If it moves more than an inch, then the pawl is broken and will need to be replaced.

Failed Transmission

The worst-case scenario is that the transmission has failed. If this is the case, the Jeep will not move.

There are a few signs that can indicate that the transmission has failed. One of these is if you hear a loud whining noise when you try to start your Jeep. Another sign is if your Jeep doesn't move when you put it in gear.

Driver changing gear

What to do if your vehicle is stuck in park?

When your vehicle is stuck in the park, the most important thing to do is to set your parking brake. If your parking pawl is broken, the parking brake will prevent your Jeep from moving. The last thing you want is your Jeep to be rolling uncontrolled down a hill.

In addition, avoid forcing the shifter. This can further damage the transmission and make the issue worse.

If your Jeep is still under warranty, the best thing to do is to take it to the dealership so they can fix it. If not, you will need to take it to a qualified mechanic who can diagnose and fix the problem.

Do Jeeps have transmission problems?

A Jeep Wrangler parked near the beach

Certain Jeep years and models are known to have transmission problems. These include the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Compass, Jeep Liberty, and Jeep Wrangler.

The issues include slipping gears, hard shifting, and delayed engagement. If you are having these issues, it is best to take your Jeep to a mechanic so they can diagnose and fix the problem.

If you are in the market for one of these Jeep models, it is good to check what years were notorious for transmission problems. You can then avoid these years when making your purchase.

Lastly, always check a CarFax report before buying a used Jeep. This will give you an idea of any potential transmission problems that the vehicle may have had in the past.

Final Thoughts

A Jeep Rubicon moving down the road

If you are experiencing problems with your Jeep shifting gears, the best thing to do is check the basics first. This includes checking the battery voltage, terminals, and cables. In addition, after your engine is cool, check the transmission fluid level and condition.

If these basic steps do not fix the problem, then you will need to take your Jeep to a qualified mechanic who can diagnose and fix the issue.

Made it to the end? Here are some other related articles:

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