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Accord stuck in "Park"

My Honda Accord (EX 2000 with VTech engine) keeps getting stuck in the Park mode when the engine is cold. I can get it unstuck by inserting a key into a nearby slot which releases it. I can then put it into Drive and continue on my way. But I would obviously prefer not to be fooling with this method. Any ideas that don’t require spending a lot of money?


Check the brake light switch under the dashboard. If the switch is not adjusted correctly the shifter won’t release. This is also a good time to make sure your brake lights are working.

A check of the brake light switch is in order.

But you may also need to get at the shift-interlock solenoid. There is a little lever that keeps you from shifting out of park without the brake depressed. When you push the brake to shift, a little solenoid moves the lever out of the way - the same one you are doing manually with the key. Its not uncommon for those to get sticky & sluggish in the cold. You’ll probably need to remove the center shift console.

Thanks for these tips. I drove by the Honda dealer to have the brake lights checked and was told they aren’t working and I definitely need new “brake light switch.” This will cost $170 at the Honda dealer. I have noticed that my problem occurs every time now, not just when it is cold. Does this make a difference in the diagnosis? So far I haven’t spent any money but removing the center console sounds complicated. Should I get the new switch? Should I take it back to the Honda dealer? (I’ve heard that I should use only genuine Honda parts.)

If your brake lights are not working, get this fixed TODAY. Pry open that wallet before someone (maybe you) gets hurt in the accident that this will cause.

Drive very slowly and carefully to the dealer (or a trusted indie mechanic) with your flashing “Hazard” lights on.

You should get the switch replaced ASAP. Driving without brake lights is very dangerous.

The fact that this occurs each time makes no difference in the diagnosis. You already KNOW the lights aren’t working. That sure narrows it down a bit.

It doesn’t matter who replaces the switch, and you don’t need a Honda switch. The importatant thing is to get the brake lights working before someone rearends your Honda.

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I was about to go to the Honda dealer when I decided to have someone else check the brake lights. Guess what? They’re working now! I was also able to get into drive without the usual problem. I have to go to the dentist now, but will stop by a gas station to see if the brake lights are still working. Does this mean I have a short? I still plan to get it fixed today, I just need to know how much $$ I’m in for.

You probably just need a new brake switch and this is likely the problem you have getting out of park. Many will fail by going to intermittent operation.

You do not need to pay a dealer $170 for this. The last time I needed a brake light switch I bought one for $10 at autozone and installed it in about 10 minutes (Chrysler product).

Even if you don’t want to mess with it just take it to any local shop. You can get the same thing done for a lot less.