How to Put a Car in Neutral Without a Key and Be Towed in Park?

August 28, 2023


Imagine this scenario: you're faced with a car parked in a tight spot, and the key is nowhere to be found. Or, perhaps you've come across a parked car that needs to be towed but stuck in the park. These situations might seem daunting, but fear not! We're here to unravel the mysteries behind these automotive challenges. In this blog post, we'll explore how to put a car in neutral without a key and address the question: can a car be towed in park?

In the dynamic world of automobiles, peculiar situations often require innovative solutions. Putting a car in neutral without a key can prove invaluable in emergencies, allowing you to move your vehicle safely. However, it's crucial to emphasize that this method should not replace the proper use of keys and ignition systems, which ensure the security of your vehicle.

On the other hand, the question of towing a car while it's in park raises concerns about potential damage and safety hazards. While modern vehicles come equipped with advanced features, towing a car in park is a practice that contradicts the principles of vehicle mechanics. Engaging a professional towing service with expertise in handling various vehicles ensures that your car is towed safely and without unnecessary strain on its components.

Understanding these fundamentals empowers us as responsible car owners in a world where convenience sometimes clashes with caution. By appreciating the nuances of vehicle mechanics, we can make informed decisions that protect our assets and those around us. So, the next time you find yourself in a tight spot, remember these insights – they might just be the key to steering clear of automotive problems.

Putting a Car in Neutral Without a Key: A Guide

It's common - you've lost your car key, and your vehicle sits there, seemingly immovable. But did you know there's a way to put a car in neutral without the key? This nifty trick can be a lifesaver when you need to move your car without the key's presence. Here's a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Safety First

Before attempting to manipulate your vehicle's gears, ensure that the environment is safe. Make sure the parking brake is engaged, and you're in an area away from traffic.

Step 2: Locate the Shift Lock Override

Most modern vehicles come equipped with a shift lock override, a small slot or cover near the gear shifter. This feature is designed for situations just like this - when the key is missing, and you need to manually shift gears.

Step 3: Access the Shift Lock Override

Insert a small, flat object like a screwdriver or a key into the shift lock override slot. Apply gentle pressure and simultaneously press the brake pedal.

Step 4: Shift to Neutral

While pressing the brake pedal and holding the override, gently move the gear shifter from park to neutral. You'll feel the shifter move freely without the need for the key.

Step 5: Remove the Tool

Once the car is in neutral, carefully remove the tool from the shift lock override slot. Remember, this method is intended for emergencies and should not be used to shift gears regularly. Always consult your vehicle's manual for specific instructions related to your car's make and model.

Can a Car Be Towed in Park:

The notion of towing a car while it's parked in the "Park" position is confusing for many. Let's clear the air once and for all: towing a car while it's in park is not recommended and can cause significant damage to your vehicle's transmission and drivetrain. Here we see can a car be towed in park:

Transmission Strain

When a car is in park, the transmission's parking pawl engages, preventing the wheels from turning. Towing the vehicle in this state forces the transmission to resist the turning motion, leading to strain on internal components. This strain can result in long-term damage to the transmission system.

Drivetrain Stress:

Towing a car in park can also stress the drivetrain components, including the axles, differential, and joints. These parts are not designed to handle the forces generated during towing and can become damaged or even break.

Limited Steering Control:

When a car is towed in park, the steering system doesn't function as it should. This lack of control increases the risk of accidents and makes the towing process more hazardous.

Potential Legal Issues:

Towing a car in park might not only damage your vehicle but could also lead to legal issues. If the towing process causes damage to public or private property, you could be held liable for the repairs.

Safe Towing Practices

To avoid the pitfalls of towing a car in park, follow these safe practices:

Use a Flatbed Tow Truck:

When towing is necessary, always opt for a flatbed tow truck. This type of truck lifts the entire vehicle off the ground, eliminating the strain on the transmission and drivetrain.

Professional Towing Services:

Choose a reputable towing service with experience in handling various types of vehicles. They will know the proper procedures for towing your specific car without causing damage.

Consult Your Vehicle Manual:

Refer to your vehicle's manual for towing guidelines specific to your make and model. Manufacturers often provide recommendations for safe towing procedures.

Consider Neutral or Towing Mode

If your vehicle has a neutral or towing mode, use it as directed in the manual. This disengages the transmission and makes towing safer for your car.


Knowing how to put a car in neutral without a key can be handy in certain situations. However, this method should be reserved for emergencies only. When it comes to towing a car, remember that towing a vehicle in park is a recipe for trouble. Always prioritize the safety of your vehicle and others on the road by following recommended towing practices.

As responsible car owners, understanding these nuances can save us from unnecessary headaches and expenses. So, whether you've misplaced your car key or need to move a parked car, now you can confidently tackle these challenges.



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