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2008 Impala Won't Shift Out of Park

I have a 2008 Chevy Impala. I’ve owned it for 14 months and put about 12,000 miles on it in that time. It’s had basic servicing (rotations, oil, oil filter, cabin filter, etc. changes). It hasn’t given me problems—but suddenly I have one and I’m not sure how major it is.

I made a drive from New York to Western Mass yesterday…couple hundred miles, but nothing huge. It drove fine all yesterday after I arrived…again, no problems. This morning, I went to start it…everything’s okay. But then I went to shift it out of park…the button will not depress. I restarted a few times…no luck. I kept trying to depress the petal to shift it; I couldn’t even shift it into neutral when not started. I am not sure what in the world is going on.

I’ve read numerous forums on this—it seems to be a common problem with these cars. What’s not so clear is what to do with this. Responses range from—stick a screwdriver into some hole all the way to just go on and junk the car, it’s useless. That’s why I am coming here to get clearer guidance on resolving this problem, hopefully in an economical way.


The part about the screwdriver is to release the shift interlock, and doing that is the most economical. Getting it fixed I do not know the price, but get an estimate from a dealer and an independent mechanic who says, oh yea, I have fixed a few of those and it is usually…

Junking the car is probably overkill.

So how do I use the screwdriver to release the shift interlock? Is this a fail safe method? And what’s the likelihood of recurrence? I guess I also want to know what it is in the first place that causes this, as well. if you want to try this guys fix, I do not know for sure, my guess is to use the screwdriver to depress the solenoid. Low battery voltage could be an issue also.

I was actually about to give this a try. Then I got into my car and tried to move it…and it moved just fine. First I did it without the ignition running, then I did it with it running. I drove around for a quick spin, came back, parked it. Immediately the same thing happened…would not move out of park.

I appreciate the help. But I guess to better know what exactly needs to be done I just need to know what exactly it is that causes this. Furthermore, I want to make sure that it’s not going to be a recurring, intermittent problem that won’t leave me stuck anywhere at some point. Thanks.

@LemonSqueezed–I agree completely that you need to have this problem diagnosed, but–in the short term–you really need to open your Owner’s Manual and read exactly what it says about where to insert a screwdriver in order to allow the gear shift lever to move.

Thanks to you both for replying. I am about to start poring through my owner’s manual to find out where I need to put a screwdriver. What I’m asking, though, is that after I do this is this going to be a one-time fix or am I going to need to keep this screwdriver on hand to keep popping it out repeatedly?

There should be a very small…cover (? I don’t know what else to call it)…on the center console which you open and in which you insert the tip of a screwdriver, and the manual should have a pictogram of exactly where it is located on the console.

Unfortunately, this is something that you will have to do every time that the problem arises–until you have it fixed.

The stop lamp/brake switch is what actuate the shift release. Some cars use 1 for both brakes and shift interlock other models will have 2 switches. The switch is mounted to the brake pedal assembly under the dash. Take a flashlight and look up at the brake pedal you should be able to see the switch(s). Most are not that hard to replace.


Check your brake lights. If they don’t work, the switch is the likely culprit.

I’m still trying to sort through this…any additional help would be greatly appreciated.

Go to 3:17 in the video a few posts above. I am trying to figure out how in the world to take this part out. It is plugged into some fixture, but I have absolutely no directions on the proper way to remove it without causing any damage. I keep tugging and pulling, but since it is not coming out I figure that is probably not the proper way to remove this. It’s the only thing keeping me from removing the center console.


I had the same problem. I took it to my local mechanic who has done great work for me in the past. Unfortunately I don’t remember the details of how he explained it to me, but he said it is common with these cars. He fixed it for me and it was not real expensive. I think the labor was about an hour. Hope this helps.

I hope the OP hasn’t been sitting there stalled since 2014 though. The screwdriver is an emergency override so the answer is yes it will happen again so take it to a shop or the dealer and have it fixed.