Jeep Patriot Stuck in Park: Diagnosis

Nothing is worse than sitting in a vehicle that’s stuck in park.  The engine is running fine, but the shifter just won’t move.  There are several things you can try to get your Jeep Patriot moving now.  These include checking to see if the parking brake is stuck, finding the shift lock solenoid override (if applicable), and the shift linkage.

Let’s get straight to it.  We’ll start with things that are easy and quick to remedy (allowing you to get moving again).  We’ll then move onto the less likely problems with the hope that you can get your Patriot out of park fast.

Won't Shift Out of Park Jeep Patriot

Jeep Patriot Stuck in Park Causes

Is it physically impossible to move the gear shift into any other position? Here are a few possibilities that could be causing the problem.


Parking Brake Stuck

Is your Patriot parked on a hill?  If so, then the force of gravity could be forcing your transmission to put pressure on the parking lock in the transmission.

If this is what happened to your Patriot, it is good news since it’s pretty easy to fix.  This happens a lot when you don’t use a parking brake on a hill.  It can happen to any vehicle, at any age or mileage.  Getting it unstuck can be easy, but also a little dangerous since you’ll need to rock the vehicle.  The best way to rock it is from the driver’s seat.  Just throw your weight around.  Proceed at your own risk.

What you’re going to need to do is safely:

  • Turn the vehicle engine on.
  • Rock the vehicle with your foot off the brake.
  • Press the brake down when you have rocked toward the hill a bit.  You want to “catch” it with the brake at the right time.  This will take pressure off of the parking lock.
  • Apply light pressure to the shifter.  You don’t want to break the shift linkage.

Hopefully that worked.  You want to get a little pressure off of the parking mechanism in the transmission.  It’s not meant to be a brake.  That’s why parking brakes aren’t called emergency brakes anymore.  So if you do rock it, try and catch your Patriot as it rolls behind you.  When it’s about to rock forward again, hit the brakes and try to get it out of park.  Easy right?

Jeep Patriot Stuck in Park Diagnosis

Shift Lock Solenoid Failure

The shift lock solenoid is the mechanism that keeps you from shifting out of park without your foot on the brake.  The good news is that most shift locks have an override button.  You will need to find it for your particular model year of Patriot (if applicable).

Finding it is usually pretty easy.  Just look at your shifter.  There’ll be a little plastic cover, you pop it off and override the shifter lock solenoid.  This can get you back on the road in a hurry and could save you from being stranded.

Here’s a video that’ll show you where to find them on most vehicles. 



Bad Shift Linkage

The shift linkage on your Patriot will usually provide a lifetime of dependable service.  But, they can go bad.

If you are positive that the gear shifter is not stuck in park (see directly above), then it’s likely that the shift linkage may be bad.  Either something caused it to bend, or it’s starting to come loose.  If it’s come loose, the geometry won’t be right anymore and it may keep your Patriot stuck in park.


Conclusion:  Patriot Stuck in Park

There aren’t a lot of issues that would cause your Jeep Patriot to be stuck in park.  Good luck working through the diagnosis.  If there is anything that you would like to add, please feel free to leave a comment below.