Neutral Safety Switch: Replacing A Malfunctioning Switch

The neutral safety switch alters the way an engine starts. As its name, the neutral switch allows a car to start only when it is in neutral or park mode. Other than these two modes, the vehicle does not start in any gear if the safety switch is on. It means when the switch is active, even if the car is in gear, it will not start if it is not in neutral or park mode.

Let’s get to know the symptoms of a malfunctioning neutral safety switch and how you should replace it.

Knowing The History Of Neutral Safety Switch

Now that you know ‘what is a neutral safety switch,’ let’s get an idea about its history.

The era around 1960 was the time where the automotive industry took some noticeable turns for ensuring safety in vehicles. As the year went by, many safety gears came to light such as seat belts and neutral safety switch.

The switch very first took place in 1950 and by 1980 it was a common tool in every automobile. Normally, the neutral safety switch can be found inside the transmission case or anywhere near the gears system. It was introduced to prevent accidents from taking place in case you leave the kids alone in the car. To the surprise, the tool is working commonly in almost all the cars these days ensuring the protection.

Neutral Safety Switch- the real explanation
The switch very first took place in 1950 (Photo Source: fordforum)

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Identifying The Symptoms Of A Malfunctioning Switch

Like every part of a car, the neutral safety switch wears off too. As a result, it malfunctions and needs replacement to work finely. Now, there are a few symptoms that you can identify when the switch malfunctions. Let’s get to know here-

1. The Engine Does Not Work In Park Mode But Works In Neutral Mode Or Vice Versa

When you encounter that the car does not start even if the transmission is in parking mode, it is a sign that something is wrong with the switch.

You can also find that the engine does not start when you push the start button or roll the keys.

Sometimes, battery power, damaged starter, or any other part can be a reason too for the behavior other than a faulty switch.

Another sign of identifying a malfunctioning switch is when the engine starts in park mode but not when it is in neutral mode. In this situation, it can be an issue of the safety switch.

In either case, you should always take it to a professional car repair as neutral safety switch troubleshooting.

2. The Engine Does Not Start Regardless Of The Gear

If you are experiencing a non-working engine that does not start no matter which gear it is in, there is a problem with the neutral safety switch. It simply means that the starter is unable to receive any power, and again, this can be due to malfunctioning switch.

3. The Engine Starts In Any Gear

Sometimes, you can start the engine in any gear despite the safety switch is on. It means that your safety switch is not working and so you are able to start the engine. It is one of the symptoms of a bad neutral safety switch. To retain the safety feature in your car, you should work on replacing the safety switch or tighten the wires if you find any.

Do you know how to reset miles on a car or how you should put air in your tires? Well, it is all here Maintenance Tips.

Replacing The Neutral Safety Switch

It is important to bring your car back in the safety mode by fixing the neutral safety switch problem. The switch should be located near the transmission. If you have a rear wheel drive system, it should be on the left side of the transmission under the gearshift. For a front-wheel-drive system, you can locate it on top of the transmission. You can always see your car’s manual if anything seems confusing.

  • Get the key and set it to ‘On’ by pressing the brake and keep it into the neutral mode.
  • Go to the hood and check for the negative terminal of the battery and disconnect it.
  • Get the neutral safety switch there that you can see fixed with a few bolts and wiring.
  • You need to remove all the connecting points and take the switch out in order to insert a new one.
  • Remove the plugged connector by hand, ensuring that it does not get damaged during its removal. You can make use of the right wrench to unbolt the fastening.
  • When you unbolt things, notice the alignment of the switch. Next, it is about replacing the switch with a new one. Insert the switch in the same alignment you noticed and tighten all the bolts and wiring.
  • Connect the negative terminal of the battery that you took out at the very first place. You can check the engine now by keeping the car on park mode or neutral and it should be working fine.
Neutral Safety Switch- what is your take on it?
The switch should be located near the transmission (Photo Source: youtube)


If you encounter any confusion or do not feel it safe to replace the neutral safety switch on your own, call a mechanic or take your car to a professional.