Car Doctor Q&A: Shiftless 2002 Toyota Highlander

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You don’t often hear people having trouble with their Toyota Highlander’s transmission, but if anybody’s going to get a question, it’s AAA’s Car Doctor, John Paul:

Q: I have a 2002 Toyota Highlander and it won’t shift out of park unless I push the manual override button. How does this system work and what do you think it would cost to repair it? Just curious, what do you think of just defeating the shift interlock?


A. The system uses input from the brake pedal switch and the shifter mechanism. This signal is sent to the car’s computer which in turn allows the shift interlock solenoid to release. Depending on what is wrong will determine the price. The problem could be a wiring issue, brake switch of the solenoid itself. If it is the solenoid, it will be a bit expensive ($250-$300 plus labor) since the solenoid is part of the shifter mechanism.  Regarding disabling the shift interlock, defeating any kind of safety system is never a good idea.

Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald

Writer, editor, lousy guitar player, dad. Content Marketing and Publication Manager at

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