How to Put Car in Neutral with Dead Battery: Step-by-Step Guide

July 9, 2024

Have you ever been stranded with a dead car battery, unable to move your vehicle because you can't shift it to neutral? Knowing how to put a car in neutral with a dead battery can be crucial in such situations, whether for towing purposes or simply pushing it to a safer location.

Understanding the Basics

First and foremost, when trying to put your car in neutral despite a dead battery, it's usually necessary to access a hidden lever or button designed for such emergencies. In many modern vehicles, there's a trim piece near the shifter that needs to be removed to reveal this lever. This piece can typically be pried off using a flathead screwdriver or another flat tool, such as a knife.

how to put car in neutral with dead battery

The Lever Mechanism

Once you've removed the trim piece, you will see a small hole or notch with a lever inside. By inserting a tool—like the screwdriver you used to remove the trim—and pushing down on the lever, you can manually release the transmission. This allows the car to be shifted into neutral. Finding this lever may be tricky, but it is crucial for moving your vehicle in emergency situations.

how to put car in neutral with dead battery
"Google security & streetview google maps cars Net Neutrality protest at Google HQ - GoogleRally 39" by Steve Rhodes is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/.

Removing the Trim and Shifting to Neutral

Let's walk through the step-by-step process on how to put a car in neutral with a dead battery:

  1. Locate the trim piece near the gear shifter.
  2. Use a flathead screwdriver or similar tool to gently pry off the trim piece.
  3. Find the small hole or notch beneath the trim, where the lever is located.
  4. Insert your tool into the hole and press down on the lever to mechanically release the transmission lock.
  5. Shift the gear shifter to neutral while holding down the lever.

At this point, your car should be in neutral and capable of being moved even without battery power.

how to put car in neutral with dead battery
"MAVIC Neutral Service Car" by luckypines is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/.

Tips for Specific Scenarios

For cars with more complex gear systems like the ZF 8-Speed transmission, additional steps may be required. Accessing the necessary mechanisms might involve tools like a 5mm hex socket and navigating to specific parts of the vehicle, sometimes requiring electrical power to shift into neutral.

Why Knowing This is Important

Understanding how to put a car in neutral with a dead battery is not just about convenience—it's essential for safely moving or towing your vehicle when it's locked in Park. Whether you're dealing with an unexpected dead battery in an electric vehicle like the Subaru Solterra or managing a 12V system sizing issue, the ability to put your car in neutral can save the day.

how to put car in neutral with dead battery
"Rigging the Car - 'Neutral'" by Jason M Parrish is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/.

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