What shift lock release is and how to use it

As a safety feature, the shift interlock prevents a driver from switching to reverse while driving. The car must come to a full stop before the driver can switch gears. PHOTO by Godfrey Lugaaju

What you need to know:

A number of people drive their cars for years without knowing what their shift lock release does. We explain why your car has such a feature and when you need to use it.

Cars have two kinds of transmissions; manual and automatic. Manual cars have a clutch which the driver needs and always uses when shifting the gear. A manual transmission car can never shift gears without the driver pushing the clutch using his foot.

However, an automatic transmission car has got the shift lock release mechanism which is a button located next to the gear lever which works very differently from the manual transmission. This is probably why people who are used to either kind of transmission find it difficult to drive a car with another transmission.

Using shift lock release
According to David Kawooya, a driving instructor in Kajjansi, the shift lock and its release is present in cars with automatic transmission because the functionality is different from the manual one. Here, there is no need to shift the gears manually.

However he says, they do have a gear shift which is used for switching among options such as reverse, parking and neutral. He says to shift between these options, you have the shift lock release options.

This button allows you to switch to an option for example parking, and then lets you lock it till you switch into another one. Then, unless you release the shift lock, you will not be able to do shift lock override.

As it is a button, a shift lock release button specifically, all you need to do is press it. When you press the button, it will cause the lock to release, thus allowing you to shift the lever to the desired option. As you release the lock, the lever will move as you desire. Now all you need to do is choose the option that you need to put the transmission in, and then press the button again. Pressing the button again will let you lock the lever on that setting.

According to Ronald Lubega, a mechanic at Grace Lubega Motors, it is also a safety function that helps you move your car when the gear shift will not move from one setting to another. He alludes to a few steps to follow when using the shift lock release button.

Brakes
Ronald says the first thing the driver should do is engage the parking brake which is represented by letter P. This will ensure that car does not move. Then pull the key out of ignition because you have to use it at some point. Take a flat-head screwdriver or something that can do a similar job and try to bring the cap off of the gear shift lock cover. Once you have removed the cover, insert the key into this slot. Now push the key down gently.

Simultaneously, pull on the button situated at the front of the gearshift. This will let you move out of the parking. Pull the key out and replace the cover like it was before. He says you then Insert the key back into ignition and press the brake pedal. Here you simply crank the engine and you will be good to go as the gears will no longer be locked and the lever will be shifting swiftly. “Many times people spend huge sums of money on this simple car problem they can actually do themselves,” Lubega says.

Read manual
Lubega adds that all the guidelines of using the shift lock release are mentioned in your owner’s manual. He adds that in a manual transmission car, since the driver has all the control in their hands, a mechanism like this is never a necessity.

How to use
As it is a button, a shift lock release button specifically, all you need to do is press it. When you press the button, it will cause the lock to release, thus allowing you to shift the lever to the desired option. As you release the lock, the lever will move as you desire. Now all you need to do is choose the option that you need to put the transmission in, and then press the button again. Pressing the button again will let you lock the lever on that setting.

The steps
•The very first thing – put on the parking brake.
•Now, pull the key out of the ignition.
•Take a flat-head screwdriver or something that can do the similar job. Try to bring the cap off of the gear shift lock cover. It will be to the upper right of the gear selector.
•One you have removed the cover, insert the key into this slot.
•Now push the key down gently. Simultaneously, pull on the button situated at the front of the gearshift. This will let you move out of the parking.
•Pull the key out.
•Replace the cover like it was before.
•Insert the key back into ignition and press the brake pedal.
•Now, simply crank the engine.

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