Description of the vehicle

It is an automatic transmission 2004 Honda Odyssey. Runs great 95% of the time. Then once a month or so it has a problem.

Description of the problem

Ignition works fine, engine sounds normal. After the engine starts the "D" drive light is on, then after 3 seconds the gear light turns off. Then it will not change gears. Making it undrivable. I can turn it off and on several times and get the​ same problem. Then usually an hour later or so, it will work just fine again.

See video example https://youtu.be/8Yac2hJYvQ0

Normal behavior

The engine starts in the "P" park. And shifting gears is not a problem.

Dealers can't diagnose the problem because it will start right up for them.

Anyone have any ideas? Thanks.

  • Have the dealers checked the transmission fluid? Sometimes if there isn't enough fluid, transmission mike seize up and not shift
    – Noah
    Apr 16, 2017 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


When a Honda will not shift out of park the first thing I check is if the brake lights are also not working. The reason for this is that the brake light switch sends a signal to the shifter lock solenoid when the brake light switch is activated by stepping on the brake pedal. Intermittent switch failure is common. The next time the problem happens leave the brake pedal depressed and ask someone else to check to see if the brake lights are on or not. if they are not on test the brake light switch and replace as required.

A description of shifter interlocks work and how to override it can be found here: Shifter interlock

  • Thanks Fred Wilson, you were right. It was the shifter interlock.
    – Daniel
    Apr 18, 2017 at 3:07
  • 1
    @Daniel - If this answers your question, please select the checkmark below the voting arrows which shows it answered the question. Apr 18, 2017 at 10:53

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