If your Ford F-150 truck won’t shift out of park, don’t worry – you’re not alone. While this is a troubling and inconvenient issue, it isn’t entirely uncommon and can have several different causes. Once you’ve pinpointed why your Ford F-150, in particular, is experiencing this issue, you can take the necessary steps to resolve it.
In this article, we will list the top four reasons why your Ford F-150 might be stuck in park and provide instructions on how to fix the problem, whether the solution can be performed by yourself in the comfort of your own garage or is best left to the professionals. We will note that some solutions may vary depending on your Ford F-150 model and the location of its shift.
Faulty Shift Interlock Solenoid
Arguably the most common reason why any Ford F-150 won’t shift out of park relates to an issue with its shift interlock solenoid. Therefore, any time you notice your car seems to be stuck in park, we recommend investigating this part first.
The shift interlock solenoid is a safety device that prevents the truck from being shifted out of park without the brake pedal being depressed. If this solenoid fails, it can cause the truck to get stuck in park because the components aren’t fully engaged when you are pressing your brake pedal.
In addition to being stuck in park, other signs of a faulty shift interlock solenoid include your engine stalling when you attempt to shift gears, warning lights appear on your dashboard, or you’re Ford F-150 is experiencing lighting issues, such as no interior or exterior lighting.
How to Fix
You’ll find with many of these common causes that the most efficient way to resolve the issue is to replace the faulty part. Thankfully, a shift interlock solenoid can be replaced yourself or with the help of a mechanic.
Here’s a quick video showing the process with more info below:
You can purchase a Replacement Ford F-150 Shift Interlock Solenoid Here (link to Amazon) or at most mechanic shops, just make sure it matches your vehicle’s make and model.
To replace it, you’ll need to remove the cover surrounding your shift (whether it is in the center console or behind your wheel) and remove the 8mm bolts and various screws to access the case which contains the shift interlock solenoid.
You can then pop open the case, install the replacement, and then reinstall all other removed components.
If you’re in an emergency situation or would prefer to have a professional swap this component for you, there is a way to bypass a faulty interlock solenoid and free your shift to switch out of park if you have a center console shift. To do this, you’ll pop off the cover and push the white button locate to the left of the shift.
This button is connected to a locking mechanism and will allow you to shift out of park when engaged if the shift interlock solenoid is, in fact, the issue. Still, it is important to note that this is a short-term fix to get your car to a location where it can be fixed.
A faulty shift interlock solenoid can cause other issues that would make your Ford F-150 unsafe to drive long-term.
Faulty Brake Light Switch
It might seem odd that a brake light switch would be preventing you from shifting out of park, but you would be surprised how many Ford F-150s are locked in park for this very reason.
The reason a faulty brake light switch might be preventing your Ford F-150 from shifting out of park is that there is a transmission shifter connected to it that is activated by the brake light switch. Therefore, when the brake light switch fails, the transmission shifter will not release from park.
The quickest way to determine if your brake light switch is the cause of this issue would be to see if the brake lights turn on when you engage the brake pedal. Other signs would be if your ABS (anti-lock brake system) warning light comes on or if your Ford F-150 fails to start.
Here’s a quick video showing how to replace the brake switch and the fuse:
How to Fix
Replacing your Ford F-150’s brake light switch is another easy fix you can do yourself. Once you have a Replacement Brake Light Switch Like This One (link to Amazon) on hand, locate the brake light switch connected to the top of the brake pedal.
Push in the top of the brake light switch to pull out its connected wires, turn the bottom clockwise, and pull it out. Now, all that’s left to do, is to insert and connect the replacement.
Blown Brake Switch Fuse
If the previously listed components are all functioning properly, then the next one you’ll want to check is your fuse box to see if any fuses associated with your brakes are damaged and in need of replacement.
A blown fuse in your Ford F-150 is caused by a short circuit, typically due to a poor connection somewhere throughout its electrical system.
Determining whether your Ford F-150 has a blown fuse can be challenging without the right tools. One of the easiest options is an automotive circuit test light. To use this tool, turn your Ford F-150 on to the first position (electric components and accessories should turn on, but you aren’t starting the car fully).
Next, connect the test light’s ground clamp to the negative terminal, verify the light is working by tapping it against a positive battery post (light should turn on) and then test each fuse by touching the probe to each exposed test terminal. If the fuse is good, the light should turn on for both terminals.
How to Fix
Once you’ve used the method listed above to determine which fuse in your Ford F-150 is blown, you should refer to your vehicle’s fuse box diagram to verify what this fuse does and what replacement you’ll need.
You’ll then use a fuse removal tool or a pair of pliers to gently remove the blown fuse and then pop in the replacement. You’ll want to be extra cautious to perform this process properly as you could cause significant damage to yourself and your vehicle when performed incorrectly.
If you have tested all fuses in your fuse box located by the steering wheel by the brake pedal and find they all work properly, you might want to check the fuses in your power distribution box before moving on.
Damaged or Exposed Wires
This last common cause for a Ford F-150 failing to shift out of park is common in older models and can be difficult to test and verify by yourself.
Damaged or exposed wiring in your Ford F-150 could disrupt electrical signals throughout your vehicle that are necessary to perform a multitude of functions, including shifting out of park.
Due to the extensive amount of wiring in any vehicle, this cause can be extremely difficult to diagnose and is typically best done by a professional mechanic.
Here’s a common damaged wiring problem for F150s explained in this video:
How to Fix
If you somehow manage to discover what specific wires in your Ford F-150 are preventing your truck from shifting out of park then firstly, congratulations, because that doesn’t happen often. How you fix this issue really depends on what is wrong with your wiring.
Sometimes, wrapping some exposed or slightly damaged wiring with electrical tape is enough to restore the electrical flow. Oftentimes, the wires are significantly damaged or displaced, requiring a professional to replace or restore them.
A Ford F-150 that refuse to shift out of park can usually be fixed by replacing brake-related components yourself, such as the shift interlock solenoid or brake shift light. However, if you’ve determined these aren’t the main causes, you might want to consider having a professional look at your truck for fuse and electrical issues rather than attempting to resolve these issues yourself.