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Kia Optima Transmission Shift Lock Release Guide
How to manually shift the transmission from Park to Neutral in a 4th generation 2016 to 2020 Kia Optima sedan.

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Paul B. Michaels
Author & Photographer
Auto Mechanic Since 1989

2019 Optima Gear Selector
Shift Lock Release Cover
Pry Out - Notch Bottom
This automotive maintenance tutorial was specifically written to assist owners of the 4th generation (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 model years) Kia Optima sedan in releasing the transmission shift lock mechanism in order to move the gear selector from "Park" to "Neutral" in order to manually move a disabled vehicle due to running out of gas, a weak or dead 12V car battery, needing to be towed or some other mechanical issue.

Owners of other Kia, Hyundai or Genesis vehicles such as the Niro, Sportage, Sedona, Telluride, Sorento, Rio, Forte, Soul, K900, Cadenza, K5, Stinger, Tucson, Santa Fe, Kona, Palisade, Elantra, Sonata, Accent, Veloster, Ioniq, Nexo, Venue, G70, G80 and G90 may also find these DIY instructions to be helpful.

The only tool needed to access the shift lock release button is a small flat head screwdriver.

The first two steps are to engage the emergency / parking brake and place your foot on the brake pedal to keep the car from unexpectedly moving.

Locate the "SHIFT LOCK RELEASE" black plastic cover situated just above the "P" for "Park" next to the gear selector.

Insert the blade of the small flat head screwdriver into the small notch at the bottom of the access cover.

Very gently pry out the cover. It is held in place by two plastic retaining clips.


Pull Out Plastic Cover
Plastic Cover Removed
Shift Release Button
Set the cover aside in a safe place.

Once the cover is out of the way, you'll be able to see the release button down in the well.

Push Switch Down
Moving Selector Back
Test Back-Up Camera
Firmly hold down the brake pedal with your foot to ensure the vehicle won't move unexpectedly.

Push down the shift lock release switch with the screwdriver and hold it in place.

Then carefully move the gear selector (shift knob) back to the "Neutral" position.

(When you go past "Reverse" you will see the Back-Up camera's view on the LCD display screen.)

Move To Neutral
Manually Move Car
Shift To "Park"
Release the emergency / parking brake but keep your foot on the brake pedal.

Carefully have your assistant manually push the car into the desired position.

Once you are done manually moving the car, move the gear selector back into "Park".

Re-Insert Plastic Cover
Snap Back In Place
Done Moving Car
Re-insert the plastic cover back into the opening above the "P" on the gear selector assembly.

Gently pop the cover back into place.

Try to avoid using excessive force to prevent from cracking the plastic cover.

Please check out all of my 2016-2020 Kia Optima DIY Repair & Maintenance Guides.

If you found this guide to be helpful, please consider making a small donation by clicking on the "Donate" button located to the right of this paragraph. Thank you!
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