1999 Chev Prizm - Stuck in Park


My car is now sitting in a pharmacy parking lot. I can’t get the car out of park. When I turn the key, nothing. Last week this happened. The car wheels were turned very sharply. I straightened the wheels and then rocked the car by pushing on it from the front. Voila!!! It started and I went on my merry way. This problem happened again and no amount of rocking or pushing on the car made any difference. It is stuck in park. Also, I can’t push the button on the gear shifter. What the…?


Can you get the engine started? If not, get a jump start. If the engine isn’t running, the voltage for the shift lever release is too low.
On some cars, there is a key slot, next to the shift lever, to use your key to release the shift lever. The key slot may have a small plastic cover over it.


Looks like you might need someone to help pushing your car forward to get the stress off the parking pawl. In the future, before shifting into park, keep your foot on the brake and set the parking brake.

Here’s what I see in the 2002 Prizm owner’s manual.:

Torque Lock (Automatic Transaxle)

If you are parking on a hill and you don?t shift your
transaxle into PARK § properly, the weight of the
vehicle may put too much force on the parking pawl in
the transaxle. You may find it difficult to pull the shift
lever out of PARK §. This is called ?torque lock.?
To prevent torque lock, set the parking brake and then
shift into PARK § properly before you leave the
driver?s seat. To find out how, see ?Shifting Into
PARK §? in the Index.
When you are ready to drive, move the shift lever out of
PARK § before you release the parking brake.
If torque lock does occur, you may need to have another
vehicle push yours a little uphill to take some of the
pressure from the parking pawl in the transaxle, so you
can pull the shift lever out of PARK §.

Here’s the link. https://mygmlink.com/pdf/go2content/manual/US/en/chevrolet/2002prizm.pdf

Hope that works for you. If not, the pawl may be bent. Call a GM mechanic and ask - Barry


what is this mess ABOVE, we can READ,so why are you not scanning this in,why write it out? why not just the link?


That lever between the seats is a parking brake. You should put the parking brake on tight, before putting the transmission into park and release it only ofter you take the transmission out of park or you have your foot on the service brake. The transmission “Park” possition is just a backup for the real parking brake (some people call it an emergency brake, but if you have ever tried to use it in an emergency, you will know why that is wrong.).


It’s so nice when people respond! If the car is still stuck in park, release the handbrake, take your foot off the brake, turn the ignition key ON. While several people push your car forward, brakes still off, attempt to move the shift lever out of park.