How to shift Ford Explorer to Neutral without starting the engine

This guide shows you how you can manually move your transmission out of Park on Ford Explorer.

Ford Explorer, sixth generation – (photo by Ford)

The method shown here is specifically for sixth generation of Ford Explorer, but it may also work for previous models.


  1. To move your transmission from park, while in the driver’s seat, first apply the parking brake and use wheel chocks.
  2. Next, locate the access panel inside the center console under armrest compartment and using a key or flathead screwdriver, carefully pry open the access cover.
  3. Then, turn the ignition on without starting the vehicle by pressing the start-stop ignition button or turn the ignition key to the on position without pressing the brake pedal.
  4. Then apply the brake pedal and hold. Now, place the gear shift dial into the Neutral position and insert the screwdriver or key into the manual park release lever slot.
  5. Pull the lever up toward the rear until the detent in the slot pops up. You’ll know it’s engaged when you hear a click. You will also see a park not available, transmission not in park or shift system fault message in the instrument display.
  6. Now, with your foot still fully applied on the brake pedal, disengage the parking brake. Now your vehicle is out of park.
  7. Finally, switch off the ignition and disconnect the negative battery cable.

Back to Normal Mode

  1. Once it’s safe to return your vehicle to normal mode, first reconnect the negative battery cable, apply the parking brake and press and hold the brake pedal. Do not release.
  2. Insert the screwdriver or key into the release lever slot and pull the lever back. You’ll hear the detent tab release. Then lower the lever fully down.
  3. This will allow you to move the gear selector to the park position.
  4. Remove the tool and re-install the access panel.
  5. With your foot still pressing on the brake pedal, start the vehicle and confirm that the gear selector is in Park and the instrument cluster indicates Park.
  6. If you don’t see the park position displayed in the instrument cluster, or park not available, transmission not in park, or shift system fault message, apply the parking brake and confirm that the manual park-release lever is in the lowered, lock position. If so, apply the parking brake and call your dealer for service.
Author: Nabeel K
Email: nabeel@wheelsjoint.com



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