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Summary
  • A faulty clutch pedal switch can make starting your vehicle more difficult. It might also allow the engine to start in gear if the part fails in its closed position.
  • Common symptoms of a bad clutch safety switch include the engine not starting, the vehicle starting without the clutch being pushed in, and start-up only succeeding after pressing the clutch multiple times.
  • The clutch safety switch ensures that you can only start your car’s engine while stepping on the clutch pedal.
  • The clutch switch usually lasts as long as your vehicle’s service life, but you should replace it when it shows issues.
  • Automatic transmissions don’t have a clutch pedal switch.
  • It’s unsafe to drive with a bad clutch switch.
  • Replacement clutch safety switches can go for anywhere between $10 and $60.

One of the first lessons you’ll have when learning to drive a manual is how to properly start your vehicle. 

You have to make sure your vehicle is in neutral before turning the ignition key. 

With the help of a clutch pedal switch, some cars don’t allow you to start them without first stepping on the clutch pedal.

One thing driving instructors don’t always teach you is how a bad clutch switch can make starting your vehicle a little more complicated than that. In some cases, a bad clutch switch might even make it impossible for you to start your engine. In others, a clutch switch that has failed in the “closed” position might allow the engine to start in gear, which can have serious consequences.

clutch switch diagram
Clutch switch diagram | Image Source: Richard McCuistian
, Bad Clutch Switch Symptoms and Other FAQ

Pro Tips are nuggets of information direct from ASE-certified automobile technicians working with CarParts.com, which may include unique, personal insights based on their years of experience working in the automotive industry. These can help you make more informed decisions about your car.

Pro Tip: There is no law in the U.S. requiring a clutch safety switch on vehicles with manual transmissions.

Bad Clutch Safety Switch Symptoms

Diagnosing a faulty clutch pedal switch isn’t always easy, but there are some common signs you can watch for on your own. Here are some examples:

Engine Won’t Start

Your clutch safety switch is a vital part of the circuit between your ignition key and your vehicle’s starter motor. Stepping on your clutch pedal releases the safety switch, allowing the circuit to close and your engine to start.

Unfortunately, a faulty clutch switch can get stuck and leave the circuit open no matter how many times you step on the clutch pedal, preventing your ignition from starting your vehicle.

Vehicle Starts Without the Clutch Pushed In

If your vehicle starts even though you haven’t stepped on the clutch, then your clutch switch might be stuck closed. This allows your vehicle’s starter motor to power your engine even when you aren’t pressing down on your clutch pedal.

This is a big driving no-no as it increases your risk of getting into an accident. Starting your vehicle without pressing down on the clutch can cause it to jerk forward as soon as you turn the ignition key.

Engine Only Starts After Repeatedly Pressing the Clutch

A clutch safety switch won’t always break down in one go. In some cases, it might take some time before it stops working completely.

If you have to repeatedly press down on the clutch pedal just to start the engine, then this might be the case for you. Your clutch safety switch is probably on its last legs, so it’s best to replace it before it fails completely.

Cruise Control Failure

Does your vehicle have cruise control? If it does, then you might experience some issues turning it on if your clutch safety switch is broken. If the cruise control doesn’t cancel when you press the clutch, the switch could have failed in the opposite state.

The clutch safety switch disables cruise control to prevent the engine from running away if cruise is engaged and you press the clutch.

What Is a Clutch Safety Switch?

A clutch switch might be a small part but it plays a huge role in keeping you and your vehicle safe from accidents.

If you own a manual vehicle, then you know your transmission has to be in neutral whenever you start your vehicle. Otherwise, your vehicle might suddenly move and collide with another vehicle or object.

Also known as a clutch pedal or a clutch pedal position switch, the clutch safety switch stops this from happening by making sure you can only start your vehicle while the clutch pedal is depressed. This ensures your transmission is disengaged before you turn the ignition.

Other Clutch Pedal Position Switch FAQ

What Causes a Clutch Switch To Fail?

While most clutch switches never fail, it is possible for a clutch switch to get worn out over time. It’s one of the parts you constantly use whenever you start your vehicle, so it’s prone to regular wear. It can also fail due to damaged wiring.

How Long Do Clutch Switches Last?

Clutch switches usually last the life of the vehicle. There isn’t a recommended change interval for clutch switches, but most mechanics recommend replacing it as soon as you notice any issues. You can also ask mechanics to inspect your clutch switch whenever you have your routine inspection for your transmission system.

Do Automatic Transmissions Have a Clutch Pedal Switch?

Automatic transmission equipped vehicles don’t have a clutch, so they don’t have a clutch safety switch either. However, they do have a federally mandated neutral safety switch attached to the transmission linkage that prevents the vehicle from starting unless the transmission is set to park or neutral.

Is It Safe To Drive With a Bad Clutch Switch?

No, it isn’t safe to drive with a bad clutch switch. It’s unlikely for your vehicle to start with a bad clutch switch, so you might end up stranded somewhere if it suddenly fails. On the off chance that it does start, your vehicle might jerk and collide with another vehicle.

In case of an emergency, you can try bypassing the clutch safety switch to start your engine, but it can be very dangerous, especially if you aren’t parked in a safe location. For your own safety, it’s best to avoid driving until you can get your clutch switch replaced.

How Much Does a Clutch Switch Replacement Cost?

Some clutch safety switches can go for as low as $10, while others can cost you around $60. Its price will depend on several factors, including your vehicle’s year, make, and model, and the product’s brand.

Where to Get a New Clutch Switch for Your Vehicle

Your vehicle is meant to be driven on the freeway, but a damaged clutch switch will make that almost impossible. And until you replace the old switch with a new one, your vehicle will only gather dust in the garage and take up a lot of space.

The good news is that here at CarParts.com, you can get an OE-grade clutch switch that won’t break the bank. We have clutch switches sourced from the most trusted aftermarket brands today, and each one underwent stringent testing procedures to ensure their durability.

Shop online without any hassle by entering your car’s specifications into our vehicle selector. This will narrow down the catalog to compatible clutch switches for your ride. You can also use the search filters to find a switch according to your preferred brand, price range, quantity, and more.

Order now, and we’ll deliver your new clutch switch straight to your doorstep in as fast as two business days. Our products also come with a low-price guarantee, which means you’ll never have to worry about going over budget for your repairs.

Check out our clutch switches today, and take advantage of our unbeatable deals!

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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