Driving an automatic transmission car offers a level of convenience that many appreciate, but there are certain features you might not be fully aware of. One such feature is the shift lock button located next to your gear knob. Understanding what shift lock is, how it works, and when to use it can improve your driving experience and safety.

What is shift lock?

The Shift Lock button is a safety feature that’s been developed by automotive engineers to address a range of incidents involving driver error or negligence. This feature can be found next to the gear knob in vehicles with automatic transmissions.

Why was shift lock developed?

The development of the shift lock feature came as a response to numerous incidents where the absence of such a feature led to accidents or challenges for drivers. For example:

Driver Panic

A driver may panic if their car does not start, unaware that the vehicle is in ‘D’ (Drive) or ‘R’ (Reverse) instead of ‘N’ (Neutral) or ‘P’ (Park). Automatic cars generally only start in the ‘N’ or ‘P’ positions.

Misplaced Gear

Another issue occurs when a driver expects the vehicle to be in ‘P’, but it’s actually in ‘N’. Upon starting the vehicle, the gear might move to ‘R’, causing a collision if the driver was expecting to reverse but the car actually moves forward.

How do shift locks enhance car safety?

The shift lock feature is designed to prevent the above-mentioned incidents by forcing the driver to turn off the vehicle in the ‘P’ (Park) position before the ignition key can be removed. It ensures that your car won’t move unexpectedly due to being in the wrong gear.

How to use shift lock?

The shift lock is particularly beneficial in emergency situations where you need to move your car without starting it, such as when it needs to be towed due to a dead battery. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Turn Off Engine: Make sure your engine is turned off and shift the gear to ‘P’ (Park).
  2. Remove Key: Take the ignition key out.
  3. Press Shift Lock: Firmly press the shift lock button and hold it.
  4. Shift to Neutral: While holding the shift lock button, move the gear knob to ‘N’ (Neutral).
  5. Release: Once the gear is in ‘N’, you can release the shift lock button.
  6. Release Handbrake: Now, you can release the handbrake, and your car can be pushed to the side or towed.

Double Parking Scenario

Though the shift lock can technically be used if you’ve double-parked, it’s crucial to note that this practice is discouraged as it inconveniences others. We strongly recommend parking in designated spots to maintain public courtesy.

Examples of local cars with shift lock

Shift lock is a common feature in many modern cars in Malaysia. Brands like Proton and Perodua, which are Malaysian automotive companies, offer this feature in some of their models. For instance:

  • Proton X70
  • Proton Saga (certain higher-end variants)
  • Proton Persona (certain variants)
  • Perodua Myvi (certain newer models)
  • Perodua Aruz, and more.

However, do double-check whether the specific car model and specs you want to purchase come with that feature.


Understanding and appropriately using the shift lock feature can save you from unexpected troubles and enhance your overall safety while driving an automatic vehicle. Always remember to use this feature responsibly and in accordance with road safety rules.

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