How to Put a Car in Neutral From Park

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The neutral gear on a motor vehicle disengages the engine from the wheels and allows the engine to idle while running. Although the neutral gear is not intended for use while driving, you must shift a parked vehicle into neutral if you need to push the vehicle or have it towed. Vehicles with either manual or automatic transmissions can quickly and safely be shifted into neutral from the park position.

  • Verify that the vehicle is in park by checking the digital indicator on the dashboard control panel or the indicator next to the gear shifter on the center console. In vehicles with gear indicators on the dashboard, the vehicle is in park if the letter "P" on the gear display is highlighted or surrounded by a circle or box. If your gear indicator is on the center console, the slot next to the gear labeled "P" should be orange or red. The park position is usually at the far left of your dashboard control panel or in the top position on the center console.

  • Engage your gear shifter in vehicles with an automatic transmission, and move the shifter downward so that the gear indicator travels two slots and highlights the gear labeled "N." This is the neutral position.

  • Depress the clutch if you have a manual transmission, and move the gearshift to the center position on the gearbox. This is the neutral position. Release the clutch.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always engage the parking brake before putting your car in neutral. If you parked your vehicle on a sloped or uneven surface, it will roll when put into neutral. Failure to secure your car with the parking brake can result in an accident or injury.

References

  • "How Cars Work;" Tom Newton; 1999
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