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How to Put Car in Neutral with Dead Battery (4 Simple Steps)

When your vehicle’s battery is drained or dead, putting it directly into neutral might be difficult.

But you’ll need to do this if, for instance, you have to tow the car to another location. This article tells you how to put a car with a dead battery into neutral, whether manual or automatic.

To put a manual car with a dead battery into neutral, park the car, turn off the engine, and put the gear into the neutral position.

To put an automatic transmission vehicle into neutral, turn the ignition switch on, press the brake pedal, and then move the gear into neutral. You may need to activate the shift lock release to allow shifting the gear from parking to neutral.

However, if you don’t have the key, the procedure is a bit more involving, as you will have to lock the wheels and get under the car to switch the gear manually. Locate the transmission, disconnect the cable, and push the lever.

If the car moves freely when pushed a little, it is in neutral successfully.

Transmission and Gears

Firstly, here’s a reminder of the different transmissions and relevant gears (P and N).

Here, I’ve described how to put an automatic-transmission car with a dead battery into neutral.

In an automatic car, the parking (P) gear locks the transmission to prevent the vehicle from moving while stationary. When shifted into neutral (N), the car becomes free to freewheel because it cuts the connection between the engine and its wheels, which prevents power transmission.

A manual transmission car doesn’t have a parking gear like an automatic car, but you can achieve a similar effect by putting the car into first gear after shutting off the engine. The central neutral position is similar to the neutral in an automatic car.

I will also show you what to do if you don’t have the keys.

Putting an Automatic Car with a Dead Battery into Neutral

Here are the steps to put a car with a dead battery into neutral.

Step 1: Park the Car

When the car has a drained or dead battery, park the car in a safe place.

Ensure the car doesn’t hit anything or roll if it moves a little. If you want, you can apply the parking (or hand) brake temporarily (to keep the car from moving before you put it into neutral), but it’s not usually necessary. If you do, you will have to take it off, before applying the neutral gear.

Step 2: Turn the Ignition Switch On

Insert your key into the ignition and turn it clockwise.

This will release the steering lock so that you can move it.

Step 3: Press the Brake Pedal

pressing the brake pedal

Press the middle/left brake pedal.

Step 4: Shift into Neutral Gear

While the brake pedal is pressed completely, you can shift the gear freely into the neutral position.

If you cannot shift the gear, a shift lock might be engaged, which you must release. Find the latch and release it. You may have to push it down or insert your key or a screwdriver into its opening to release the lock.

After releasing the gear shift lock, try shifting the gear into neutral again. This time, it should work.

Putting an Automatic Car with a Dead Battery into Neutral without the Key

Here are the steps to put a car with a dead battery into neutral if you don’t have the key.

Step 1: Lock the Wheels

Firstly, you will have to lock the wheels to prevent the car from moving while looking under the car.

You will need a wheel blocker like the one in the picture below.

a wheel block
A wheel block

Step 2: Locate the Transmission

You will have to locate the transmission.

You may need a flashlight to help you see under the car. It is usually located near the engine, so first scan the area under and around it.

Step 3: Disconnect the Cable

Once you’ve found the transmission, switch it manually.

You will see a cable with a lever just behind the transmission. Disconnect that cable. The lever is used to shift the gear.

Step 4: Push the Lever

After disconnecting the cable, push the lever to the end until you hear a clicking sound twice. It should push and change easily. You shouldn’t need to push hard.

Step 5: Push the Car

Push the car with the disconnected transmission cable to check if it’s neutral. If it moves freely, you manually put the car into neutral.


Wheel block. https://www.aldonco.com/product/walk-in-wheel-block-w-flag-handle/

Video References

Cody the Car Guy

Conduite Facile


Reinaldo Torres

1A Auto

Nutz about cars

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About Alex Robertson

AvatarCertifications: B.M.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Mechanical Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Hi, I’m Alex! I’m a co-founder, content strategist, and writer and a close friend of our co-owner, Sam Orlovsky. I received my Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (B.M.E.) degree from Denver, where we studied together. My passion for technical and creative writing has led me to help Sam with this project.

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