Can't get out!

I was out in the blizzard last night and while i managed to get home safely can’t say the same for my 2001 nissan sentra SE. about a block away from my apartment I noticed that i could not shift into reverse (i have an automatic transmission) after i parked - possible very illegally and very badly) i was unable to put my car into park. the only gears I was allowed to shift into were D, 1 and 2. it won’t go into N, R or P. thinking i could turn off the car and restart if to see if it works (just like my old PC) i then turned it off and now I cannot start the car (of course not it’s in D) and I cannot get my key out and then i couldn’t lock the doors! I know why i cant get out the key or lock the door but why can’t i shift into P or R?? Any thoughts.

i feeel ya dawg, i’m in the same situatin
i think i busted my 2007 corolla transmission trying to unstick myself from the snow

Could be as simple as Ice jamming the shift cable at either end or could be the cable connection(s) has become damaged or loose.

The snow and ice may have frozen the shift mechanism. This would prevent the shifter from moving as you describe. If that’s the case only warmer weather, or time in a heated garage, will slove the problem.

Too bad you turned the engine off. Letting it idle for a while may have thawed the ice.

Keep trying. If you can get it into neutral it will start.

At least pop the hood and take a gander at the shift linkage. If you don’t know where it is or what it looks like its probably easiest to have an assistant handy to move it between D/1/2 while you watch. It will be buried somewhat deep on the driver’s side somewhere. You can also start finding and tracing anything that pops through the firewall.

Open the hood and remove any snow and ice from around the shift lever on the transaxle and then try shifting thru the gears. If that doesn’t work, then see if the transaxle can be shifted by hand at the shift lever on the transaxle.


Possibly the shift lever on the transmission is jammed with slush and ice. Hopefully the cable is not broken from the effort to force it. I believe that the lever is below the air filter housing just above the pan. If you can see below the filter and find ice there you might attempt to flush the ice clear with alcohol. Will the car start in neutral? If so engine heat might eventually thaw the ice if the hood is closed.

thanks for all the suggestions - will give it a try in the morning!

The repair shops and body shops will be booked up for months…

If you get in that situation, stop and idle the car until it thaws out. The ice could melt after five minutes of being parked and shut off too. Try not to park in a windy area. Good luck with that one.