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HomeTips & GuidesNeutral Safety Switch: How to Detect and Fix a Faulty Neutral Safety Switch

Neutral Safety Switch: How to Detect and Fix a Faulty Neutral Safety Switch

Some auto features, such as the neutral safety switch, may seem unnecessary, but they truly matter. 

Think of a scenario where you set your car in gear mode and turn on the engine starter. It’ll immediately start running. 

You risk ramming onto a wall or knocking someone over if this happens. Hence, auto manufacturers realized this problem and developed a neutral safety switch. 

So how does it work? Also, is it present in manual gearbox cars? We’ll talk about all these queries in detail below. 

Table of Contents

What is a Neutral Safety Switch

It’s a feature in autos that enables an engine to start only when it is in parking or neutral mode. 

The fundamental role of the component is to bar ignition for engines in gear mode. If it happened, it could cause an unprecedented forward thrust that could lead to an accident. 

How Does a Neutral Safety Switch Work?

A car gear shift stick. 

A car gear shift stick. 

A current from the battery to the starter is a prerequisite for a car engine to start. 

The switch blocks a current from the car battery to the engine starter in automatic vehicles. It usually happens if the car is not in parking or neutral mode. Usually, this neutral safety switch is in an autos transmission case or between gears. 

For manual transmission vehicles, the components controlling this are different, but the working principle is similar. 

Usually, there’s a similar device on a manual car’s clutch pedal. Pressing the clutch deactivates the neutral safety switch, thus enabling the vehicle to start. It means you can’t start the engine unless you press the clutch (which renders a car in neutral mode).

Also, notably,  the design of the safety switch in manual gearboxes is simpler than for automatic engines. 

What Makes a Neutral Safety Switch Go Bad?

Automatic transmission gear shift.

Automatic transmission gear shift.

Some of the probable reasons for a neutral safety switch malfunction include the following: 

  • The presence of dirt or dust can interfere with its working. Also, if the switch is too old, its core parts will wear out and thus fail to work occasionally. 
  • Moreover, moisture will induce corrosion of the neutral safety switch. Again, extensive rusting will lead to malfunctioning. 

Thus, a primary solution is to ensure the transmission case that houses this device is in good shape. Nonetheless, you must replace the neutral safety switch in the long run, as it’ll ultimately wear out. 

What are the Symptoms of a Failing Neutral Switch?

A Woman shifting gears while driving. 

A Woman shifting gears while driving. 

Let’s now explore the telltale signs of a failing neutral safety switch. 

Your Engine Starts in Neutral, not in Park Mode, and Vice Versa

A blonde woman is starting a car. 

A blonde woman is starting a car. 

Ideally, a car should start when in both Neutral and Park modes. So when you have a scenario whereby it is starting in one mode and not the other, then the switching is failing.

The most probable issue here is an internal component failure from an electric problem. 

Also, the neutral switch may be too loose, so you should inform the mechanic to fix it. Lastly, you could encounter this problem if your battery is malfunctioning. 

Your Engine Starts in any Gear.

When you can switch on the engine while the car is in any gear mode, your neutral switch is dysfunctional.

Often, this will happen when there’s an internal short circuit in the neutral switch. Hence, current from the battery bypasses this component, so it is as good as absent. 

Once again, you should engage a mechanic if you note such an issue. 

Your Engine Doesn’t Start At all, Irrespective of Transmission Gear

A Car Gear shift. 

A scenario where your engine cannot start even when in the neutral and park modes means a connection problem. The neutral safety switch most likely can’t pass the current to the starting relay. 

You’re dealing with an open electrical circuit, so you must diagnose what is not conducting. So check first if you have a malfunctioning relay. Also, confirm if there’s any blown fuse. Finally, test if your neutral safety switch has an electrical issue. 

Check Engine Lights

If your car is one of the latest models in the market, it features the check engine light property. It is ideal for confirming if your neutral safety switch is in good condition. 

Hence, if it shows code P084F, you have a reason to worry. It signals that the switch is not functioning appropriately and needs attention. 

How Do You Fix a Neutral Safety Switch?

A Young Woman Driving. 

A Young Woman Driving. 

The neutral safety switch is situated where you cannot outright access it. Therefore, fixing it could be arduous, so the primary instinct for many is to engage a mechanic. 

However, you can diagnose and fix the issue in just a few simple steps. 

  • Primarily, you must rightly identify that the neutral safety switch is faulty before trying to replace or repair it. 
  • Therefore, press the brakes pedal and switch on the car via the knob or turn the key. 
  • Next, change the position of the shift selector and see if the car starts on any of the modes. We’ve highlighted when the car should and shouldn’t start. So any discrepancy from this means the switch is not working appropriately. 
  • Alternatively, try to wiggle the shift selector. It will help solve minute issues such as a misaligned neutral safety switchs. Again if this doesn’t solve the problem, then you can be sure that the switch needs to be replaced. 
  • Check out your car’s user manual on locating, removing, and replacing the neutral safety switchs. But most importantly, ensure you undertake safety precautions such as unplugging the battery before removing the old switch. 
  • Finally, if you still have qualms about fixing this component, engage a mechanic to do the job. 

What is the Neutral Safety Replacement Cost?

A Car Mechanic At Work. 

A Car Mechanic At Work. 

You’ll need approximately $350 to replace this car component. Here’s the breakdown: 

  • The parts are cheap and will go for about $50
  • But the labor costs are quite high and could rise to $300 depending on the rates of the mech. 

Nonetheless, this is quite a low cost, especially considering the advantages of having a working neutral safety switch. 


Your car requires a neutral safety switch. It is irrespective of whether it’s automatic or has a manual gearbox system. 

And if it is faulty, you must endeavor to fix it quickly, as it is critical to car safety. 

Diagnosing a malfunctioning switch is easy; you simply need to check the highlighted aspects. 

But the arduous task underlies fixing the problem. So we advise you to engage an expert to repair the component. 

Hi I am Christa, sales manager of Cloom.

I have extensive expertise and experience in wiring harnesses and I believe I can help you.

And we have a very professional technical team who can clearly understand the customer’s needs and give professional suggestions and solutions after receiving the drawings.

If you also have wiring harness needs, please send me the drawing so that we can give you our quote and start our business.

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