Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Shifted My Honda Accord Into Park on the Highway


I came to the Cartalk forums to post this ridiculous story, not realizing there was a perfect category in which to list it.

Distracted, I did something really stupid this week on the way to work: I shifted into park while driving 60+ mph. I have a 1995 Honda Accord V6 with automatic transmission. From when I shifted into park, I heard constant clicking, until I pulled over and stopped. The shift lock system didn’t give me any other choice but to pull over, because it allowed me to shift into Park, but it did not allow me to shift back out of Park. So much for safety, as it appears that I beat the system! Once safely parked on the side of the road, I shifted back into Drive, and finished my commute.

This post is not so much as question, because I already found the answers I needed on a different forum website. I thought I’d share this story with you guys, because it’s not a scenario I’ve ever heard of happening before now.


This scenario is not terribly unusual, you may be surprised to learn, and stranger things have happened. I know a guy who used to like to shift his old Chevy truck into neutral while driving and rev the engine. He stopped when he accidentally shifted too far and hit reverse, twisting his driveshaft into two pieces of mangled, twisted steel. Another guy I know dragged me to a used car lot because he wanted to show me this old Suburban he found and hoped to buy. He was screwing around with all the features he was not used to seeing, including the transfer case stick, while driving down the highway. He then started complaining that the shift indicator in the column was not working properly, therefore he did not know if he was in drive or not. I tried to tell him he was in drive, but could not get the words out before he shifted into reverse at 60 mph. The engine stalled, but no damage was done. I took the wheel and explained to him that the only (plausible) reason he didn’t do a lot of costly damage to this vehicle he didn’t even own (nor go on to purchase) was because, while screwing with the transfer case stick, he had put it into 4WD, therefore allowing more driveline parts to soak up the shock.

Years ago I sold a 64’ Impala SS to a friend of mine who ran a used car lot. The car was perfect except for one modification. The 4-speed was removed and replaced with an automatic transmission. This was done by the former owner that I bought the car from. He left the stock 4-speed shifter in place and connected it to the auto tranny. He even left the clutch pedal in place.

I got used to the configuration and drove the car for about a year that way. It shifted perfectly. My friend was aware of the modification and always went with the customer when they test drove the vehicle. He sold the car eventually and the customer was quite happy with the SS.

A few days later my friend was called to pick up the Chevy because the new customer had run into a little trouble with the car. He was out showing off to his new girlfriend and got into a race with someone he knew. The guy had pulled the shift lever back and sent the transmission into low gear and got distracted when the other car pulled away from him. He gunned the engine, pressed the clutch pedal and slammed the shifter forward. The race was over. The guy later paid my friend to replace the mangled two-part driveshaft and had him install a new Hurst automatic shifter. He also removed the clutch pedal. It pays to pay attention.

You did not like the answers @ I don’t think we can do much better.

I would just change the fluid, and not consider re-using it, “if it checks out”. You don’t have the technology to “check it out” at your house, and it’s far easier - and cheaper - just to replace it than wait for the testing to be done at a lab.

Good catch, Barky…I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have found that thread. :slight_smile:

In order to push it past neutral and into reverse and park, the button on top of the shifter has to be pushed. For any other forward pushing shift motions, the button is not needed. Why people would keep on defeating this “safety” feature in their daily routine is beyond my understanding.

Speaking of distracted driving, there’s this dude on Youtube who shifted an Acura RSX type S from 3rd to 2nd at redline. The tach went well beyond the final 9000 rpm mark as it happened.

It’s probably fine–it likely just ratcheted like it’s supposed to do and didn’t hurt anything.

I once was having a really bad day when I was younger and shifted my Chrysler LeBaron into reverse while going about 45. It locked up the rear wheels briefly and stalled the motor. I put it in neutral and restarted it. No apparent harm done. But that was a V8 and and an old 727 transmission, and they were almost legendary for stoically taking abuse.

When I was a teenager, I had a friend with an old Chevy truck who used to like to shift from drive to neutral while driving so he could rev the engine. He liked the way it sounded. He stopped when he accidentally hit reverse instead of neutral. The driveshaft twisted in half, probably because he was revving the engine.

I’m surpriised you couln’t push in the button and shift back to drive.

When I was just learning to drive, I put my '66 Chevelle with the Powerglide 2-speed into park before I came to a complete stop. Second gear never worked after that and it was a 1-speed ever after. But the tranny was old and so was the technology.

I have a 95 Honda Accord as it happens. My husband always drove old , big American cars and thought I was nuts for choosing the one I did. I , however , was tired of the Fix or Repair Daily Fords and similar ones that I depended on him to fix and he is the original procrastinator. Maybe you can share with me why it is that men (sorry for the stereotype) like to do things like put it in neutral to rev engine or shift it for no reason related to driving , while on the highway , in an automatic. Every time he drove my Honda, he would get angry at me for getting angry at him for doing that. It should be said, he got angry also because he would turn on the windshield wipers when he meant to use the turn signal. He would mumble something about these damn new fangled cars that are trash. Thanks for letting me share.

So much for safety, as it appears that I beat the system!

To be honest, the “so much for safety” happened when you somehow managed to get distracted enough to put the car in park at 60mph. Anything beyond that is “I’m not dead, and the transmission didn’t blast up through the floorboards, so the car saved me from myself.”

This is not a bad design - this is a design in which Honda anticipated that someone would manage to do what you did, even though how exactly someone would voluntarily pull it off is a mystery.

I remember many years ago sitting in a high school science class when a representative from 3M came to talk to us about inventing Scotch Tape. I don’t remember much of the lecture, except for the part where she talked about “stupidity prevention engineering,” in which design engineers try to figure out all the stupid things customers will do with their product to hurt themselves and then sue the company over it. In the case of the tape, one of the steps was to make the tape non-toxic because they figured the first thing some idiot would do is eat it.

In the case of the transmission, they made it incapable of going into park above a certain speed because they figured someone somehow would put it into park while cruising down the highway. I would guess they then made it incapable of going back into drive until after the car was stopped because they figured that anyone who for whatever reason shifts into park on the interstate probably isn’t in the proper frame of mind to just keep going.

I am reminded of my brother-in-law, who lives in Cordoba, Vera Cruz, Mexico. He worked for decades as a sugar cane inspector. Driving and driving all day, for years in an old Beetle. Then, a few years before he retired, in a Chevy, a small car sold in Mexico. (Actually, a pretty good one.)

Driving, driving, shifting, shifting, all day. Speed bump after speed bump. Rough roads, mountain roads. Probably hit that clutch hundreds, maybe thousands of times a day. Add that up for 30 or 40 years and maybe 150 miles every day for all those years.

When he retired, he bought a US marketed Nissan car, with automatic transmission.

That man can’t stop shifting. When he stops, he pulls the shifter to 1, and as he picks up speed, he shoves it to 2, then eventually to D. And, when he slows down, he reverses the process.

I want to scream, “Let the car shift. Stop that nonsense.” But, I don’t, because though it is frustrating to watch him manually shift an automatic, I really do understand why he does it.