Need to move a truck but can’t find the keys? That’s alright because all you really need for that is a few helping hands and the know-how to get it into neutral.
How To Put GMC Truck In Neutral Without The Key
To put a GMC truck in neutral without the key, fix the truck in place with wheel blocks, then slide underneath the engine to find the shift linkage cable that runs along the transmission. Disconnect the cable, then push the lever towards the back of the truck until it clicks twice.
It doesn’t take any special tools, just this niche knowledge. Let’s go more into detail as to how it works, how to know you’ve done it right, and what to do afterward.
Even without any engine power behind it, your GMC truck is heavy. It can cause some real damage if it gets rolling of its own accord, and it’ll build up speed if it’s not stopped quickly. So, even on seemingly level ground, you’ll want to block it in place so that it can’t move anywhere.
There are specialized blocks you could use that fit the shape of the tire, but normal blocks of wood should work just fine as long as they are tall and sturdy enough to keep the truck from moving. The idea is that the truck won’t be able to go over the block from its stopped position.
If you have enough people to help, you could also have someone sit in the driver’s seat and hold down the brake. You’ll likely want someone to be there to steer anyway when you’re ready to move the car since you’ll need someone else to push the car, so that shouldn’t be hard to accomplish.
That shouldn’t be necessary if your blocks are sufficient, but if you have any reason to doubt that the blocks will do the job, take extra precautions and have someone inside of the truck that can stop it if it starts moving.
Shifter Cable: Find and Disconnect
In an automatic transmission car, the shift linkage cable is what connects your gear selector to the transmission, essentially taking your instructions and conveying them to the transmission, where the gears physically shift.
The catch is that you can only move the gear selector when the car is on, which becomes a problem when you don’t have the key. That’s why we have to bypass the shifter cable if we want to shift the gear without turning on the car.
To find the cable, you’ll have to go beneath the truck. You’ll want a flashlight so that you can see the parts. You’ll need a flathead screwdriver as well. You should find the cable between the transmission and the axle.
Find the end with the cable protection, as you can pop that end out using just that flathead screwdriver. The other end takes pliers to disconnect, but you should only have to disconnect one end to make the manual shift.
Shifting into Neutral
Once you’ve disconnected the cable, you’re free to push the lever it was (or is, depending on which end you disconnected) connected to. Pushing it towards the back of the vehicle, you should hear two clicks. The first click takes it out of Park and into Reverse, and the second click puts it in Neutral.
If it feels like there’s too much resistance, review your owner’s manual to see which direction it ought to go.
Once you’ve done the shift, you can make sure it’s in neutral by pushing on the car. The wheel blocks should keep it from going anywhere, but if it’s in neutral, it should move slightly when you push it.
If you have a friend holding the brake, tell them to let off while you do this test. They can still sit there ready to stop the truck if it seems like it’s moving, but if they’re holding the break while you do the push test, nothing will happen.
Along the same lines, you should also make sure that the parking brake is off while you do the push test.
Once you know it’s in neutral, you can replace the shifter cable: first, move the gear selector to make it point to neutral; then pop the end of the cable back into place. That way, the gear selector will keep its accuracy and usability when you start the car back up.
Moving the Truck
If you only want to move the truck a few yards, all you need is someone steering and braking in the driver’s seat and a few people to push. With the truck now in neutral, a team of two people (one driver and one pusher) could move it, though it might be easier on the pusher if there is more than one person pushing.
Make sure you have a good channel of communication between the driver and the pusher(s) for coordination and safety. The method you choose could be hand signals or vocal instructions as long as it’s clear and quickly distinguishable.
If you need to move the truck onto another truck or into an otherwise very specific place, it will help to have someone out front to give directions to the driver so that they can steer precisely to where they need to go.
If you need to tow the truck, you’ll need to know where the best points to tow it from are. For the GMC Sierra, you’ll find two hooks on the front end where you can attach tow cables. They are between the headlights and low down, as they are part of the truck’s frame.
Need a New Key?
If the reason you needed to get it into neutral without a key is that you can’t find the key, you may need to take it to a locksmith. Locksmiths can create a new key that works for your specific truck, and they can even re-key the vehicle if you think the key has been stolen. They can even do the same for electronic keys: making new ones and recoding electric locks.
You would need to tow your truck to their facility for them to do that, so grab some buddies to help you get your truck over there.