How to Use Shift Lock in Automatic Transmission Vehicles

  • Transmission in motor vehicles could either be in the form of manual or automatic. 

    The functions for both categories are also the same but the difference is in the functionality of each.

    In manual transmissions, the driver is required to shift gears manually using a clutch and a gear shift. The gear shift can either be floor shift or even mounted next to the steering wheel itself.

    However, the manual transmission does not have the shift lock release mechanism.

    A photo collage of the location of a shift low-key button (left) and a driver pressing the shift button (right)

    A photo collage of the location of a shift low-key button (left) and a driver pressing the shift button (right)


    Equally, the automatic transmission does not have a clutch and does not require the driver to shift gears manually. 

    The gear shift is different as well. It does not have the “H” looking pattern of a manual transmission. 

    Automatic transmissions generally have a vertically descending gear shift which allows the driver to switch between options like; park, reverse, neutral etc. 

    The automobile transmission is designed to switch between those automatically by adjusting itself to the motion of the car.

    Shift lock release is generally a button that is built onto the lever. It allows the driver to lock the gear lever into a particular option. 

    For example, when the driver parks the car, he/she can switch the lever into the parking option and lock it there. The lever cannot be moved until the shift lock is released.

    How to Use Shift Lock

    When the shift lock button is pressed, it causes 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. 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.

    This is also a useful measure taken by manufacturers because this makes driving safer.

    The shift lock allows the driver the safety of driving in a particular motion, for example forward, but will not allow the driver to switch to reverse while driving.

    Imperatively, the shift lock release option for automatic transmissions is a measure taken by manufacturers to protect the transmission as it is being automatically operated.

    In manual transmissions, the driver is in control and that allows him/her to control the gear shift according to their preference. 

    An image of the 'H' manual transmission gear in a manual car.

    An image of the ‘H’ manual transmission gear in a manual car.


Beryl Onyango

Beryl Onyango is a CPA and economics degree holder who has dedicated her career to helping others navigate the complex world of finance. Beryl has spent the past 3 years working as a finance specialist in a fintech company and has 6 years of experience in finance, working with a diverse range of clients and industries. Beryl's expertise lies in budgeting, saving, investing, and retirement planning, but she also has a deep understanding of various other areas of finance. She is interested in financial technology and how it changes how we manage our finances. As a finance writer, Beryl has been sharing her insights and knowledge through her writing, covering various finance and personal finance topics. Her goal is to educate and empower individuals to take control of their finances and achieve their financial goals. In addition to her professional experience, Beryl is a lifelong learner, always seeking to expand her knowledge and stay up-to-date with the latest developments in finance. She is also a strong communicator, able to explain complex financial concepts in a clear and easy-to-understand manner. Beryl believes that financial literacy is the key to achieving financial success, and she is dedicated to helping others achieve their financial goals.

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