Toyota Tacoma Won’t Shift Out Of Park – What Could Be Wrong?

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If your Toyota Tacoma isn’t shifting out of “park,” it can be a frustrating situation. The first thing you could wonder is what could be wrong? We have taken the time to do the research on your behalf to answer why your Tacoma isn’t shifting out of “park.”

There are several reasons as to why your Tacoma won’t shift out of “park,” including:

  • Failing transmission
  • Failing shift lock solenoid
  • The parking brake is stuck
  • Bad shift linkage

Finally, if the vehicle won’t even start, it could be because of a dead battery.

No matter what the vehicle is, a car that won’t shift is an issue. Unfortunately, it can be confusing and expensive to get the issue fixed. In this article, we will take a closer look at why your Toyota Tacoma won’t shift out of “park.” In addition, we will discuss other common problems with the Toyota Tacoma, so keep reading!

A Toyota Tacoma riding on the 4x4 Offroad Trails in the mountains during a sunny summer morning, Toyota Tacoma Won't Shift Out Of Park - What Could Be Wrong?

Toyota Tacoma Won’t Shift Out Of Park — What Could Be Wrong?

The transmission on your Toyota Tacoma is responsible for shifting gears. When you shift the gear to “park,” it locks the vehicle in place to not roll while parked. So why won’t the truck shift out of “park?” Your Tacoma’s park position switch may malfunction due to a failing transmission or failed shift lock solenoid, which we will discuss below.

How do I know if my shift interlock solenoid is bad?

If the parking brake is not set and you try to shift out of “park,” you will hear a click. This click would be from the solenoid engaging, which locks up the shifter not to roll while parked. So if your Tacoma is having problems shifting out of “park,” there could be a problem with the park position switch or the shift lock solenoid.

If you cannot shift your truck out of “park,” it’s recommended that you have an expert inspect the issue. A certified mechanic will be able to inspect your parking brake and shifter interlock system. The reason is that if the park position switch is wrong, they won’t be able to shift the shifter out of “park.”

Toyota Tacoma riding on the 4x4 Offroad Trails in the mountains during a sunny summer morning

Failing Transmission

If your vehicle has problems shifting out of “park,” this could mean that the transmission is going bad. A transmission that is on its way out will not shift correctly. When this is the case, it can be hazardous to drive.

That’s why you should have the issue inspected right away. A certified mechanic will be able to inspect your truck and determine if there are any internal problems.

Parking Brake Stuck

The parking brake is responsible for locking the vehicle’s tires and keeping your Toyota Tacoma from rolling while parked. Another essential function of the parking brake is to keep pressure on the shifter to stay in “park.” If you find out that your parking brake is stuck, this will cause pressure on the shifter.

The pressure on the shifter will keep it from shifting out of “park.” To fix this issue, a certified mechanic will be able to inspect the parking brake cable. If it is broken or frayed, the cable may need to be replaced.

Check Shift Linkage

The shifter linkage is responsible for moving the shifter in “park,” “reverse,” “drive,” and “neutral.” For example, when you shift the gear to park the truck, it moves the shifter by locking the drive axle to keep your vehicle from rolling while parked. Unfortunately, the linkage on your Toyota Tacoma could be worn down due to age, making it difficult for you to shift to “park.”

Bad Battery

A bad battery can also cause your truck not to start and shift out of “park.” The battery is responsible for powering electrical components such as headlights and interior lights. When the battery has a bad cell, it won’t hold its charge, which can cause your vehicle not to start.

The car battery doesn’t have to be entirely dead to cause the Tacoma from shifting out of gears. However, the battery power could be low enough that it won’t let you shift.

What do you do if your car is stuck in Park?

If your vehicle does get stuck in “park,” you can do things to get the vehicle moving again.

First, start by turning the engine off. After doing so, you will need to turn your ignition key 1/4 of a rotation. This should release the pressure from the shifter and allow you to shift your truck out of “park.” If this does not work, you will need to turn your ignition key back and try again.

If your vehicle’s battery is dead, it may cause the park position switch to malfunction. First, charge your battery and then try shifting again once the vehicle is started.

You must get in touch with a certified mechanic if the issue continues. They will be able to inspect your vehicle’s shifter interlock system and tell you if there is a problem.

Some say you can use a screwdriver to help release the parking brake. However, unless you know what you are doing, this is not recommended as it could cause more damage to the vehicle.

Man in a business suit in the car changes gear

How do you release an automatic shift stuck in Park?

Check your automatic shifter for a key slot or button that has a cover. Remove the cover and if there is a button, press it. This should release your vehicle out of park position. If this doesn’t work, take a look at your owner’s manual. It should have detailed instructions on how to do this correctly and safely for your vehicle.

One thing to never do is try to force the gear shifter out of “park.” This could cause you to damage the shifter and cause more expensive repairs. 

Once you are able to get your car out of “park,” please take it to a certified mechanic immediately. They will be able to diagnose why your truck was stuck in “park.” In addition, they will be able to tell you if there is a problem with the shifter interlock system.

If your vehicle does have a problem, your certified mechanic will be able to fix or replace the faulty component needed for you to shift gears smoothly.

What are the most common problems with Toyota Tacomas?

Toyota is known for making one of the most reliable vehicles on the market. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have problems over the years. The Toyota Tacoma has been made for three different generations, each with its problems.

For example, Toyota Problems states that the years to avoid amongst the three generations are: 2006, 2007, 2009, 2016, and 2017. The common problems vary from bad shifting problems, paint flaking, radio randomly going off, and hesitation and demanding shifts.

Toyota Tacoma equipped with a camping tent in mountainous terrain

How long will a Toyota Tacoma last?

If you take care of your vehicle and get repairs done on time, the Toyota Tacoma can last for over 15 years. According to Consumer Reports, that could be 200,000 miles or even up to 400,000 miles, depending on how much you drive. But, unfortunately, most people keep their cars until they are no longer road-worthy or upgrade to a newer model.

If you want to extend the life of your truck, make sure that you take it in for oil changes regularly. But, it would help if you also relied on a certified mechanic to do a complete check-up once a year on your truck as well.

The one thing that will bring the life of your vehicle down is neglect or carelessness with how you drive it or what you have done to it mechanically. So make sure that you take your Toyota Tacoma to a certified mechanic if there are any problems with it.

In Closing

As we mentioned before, it is frustrating when your vehicle won’t shift out of “Park.” There can be so many variables as to why this is happening. If you can’t get the shifter out of “Park” on your own, then try contacting a mobile mechanic first. They can come right to you and see if they can solve the problem enough for you to drive it to their shop. If that is not an option, contact a tow company to take the vehicle to a certified mechanic.

If you enjoyed this article, then you might also like:

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