Sometimes, vehicle accidents happen because of carelessness or sheer forgetfulness. That's why automatic transmission cars are equipped with a neutral safety switch. This is intended to keep you from starting up the engine with the transmission in gear.The switch comes with electric contacts that open or become disconnected when you try to crank the engine with the transmission engaged. In effect, power from the battery doesn't reach the starter motor's circuit.Putting the transmission into park or neutral closes the contacts and allows current to flow to the starter motor, starting up the engine. Cranking the engine with the transmission in gear can cause the car to suddenly jerk forward or backward, so this switch helps you avoid the risks of vehicle damage or personal injury.For safety, regularly check if your car's neutral safety switch works properly. For quality replacements, you can trust Carparts.
• May be mounted in the steering column
• Designed for automatic transmissions and helps prevent vehicle damage and personal injury
• Long-lasting replacement switches available at Carparts
Neutral Safety Switch Buyer's Guide
- A neutral safety switch is a device installed on automatic transmission vehicles to keep you from starting the engine while the transmission is in gear.
- The neutral safety switch is important because it prevents accidents and electrical damage to the transmission and the engine.
- The neutral safety switch is a device that controls the flow of power from the battery to the starter motor’s circuit. This switch only allows power from the battery to flow to the starter motor’s circuit if the transmission is in Park or in Neutral.
- There’s something wrong with the neutral safety switch if the vehicle doesn’t start while the transmission is in either Neutral or Park. If the vehicle doesn’t start at all or if it starts even when the transmission is in gear, they’re indications that the neutral safety switch needs to be replaced right away.
- The average price range for a replacement neutral safety switch is around $10 to $500.
While some safety parts were already integrated into automobiles in the 1920s, the automotive industry made a big leap towards the standardization of vehicle safety measures in the 1960s. This included laws and the establishment of foundations and institutions dedicated to vehicle safety standards and their implementation.
By the 1980s, a very important safety device was mandated to be installed in all production vehicles--the neutral safety switch. The neutral safety switch is an added safety device that prevents you from hitting the road unprepared. Learn more about this important safety component and the signs that you need a neutral safety switch replacement.
What is a neutral safety switch?
A neutral safety switch is a device installed on automatic transmission vehicles to keep you from starting the engine while the transmission is in gear. This means that your car wouldn’t move unless you change gears to either Park or Neutral.
The neutral safety switch location depends on the car model, but this component is usually found in the steering column inside the vehicle or to the side of the transmission selector shaft. In place of a neutral safety switch, some vehicles have a mechanical device installed in the steering column to prevent the driver from turning the key switch to the start position unless the transmission is in Neutral or Park.
The neutral safety switch is important because it prevents damage to the starter motor and transmission. It also prevents accidents from taking place. Without the neutral safety switch, your vehicle might jerk forward or backward as you crank your engine with the transmission in gear. Pedestrians might get hurt or injured as a result.
In some cars, the neutral safety switch is connected to the reverse lights which light up when the engine is started. This is an added safety mechanism to the neutral safety switch and indicates that the driver has started the engine of the vehicle and might be backing up soon.
Manual transmission vehicles have a device similar to the neutral safety switch. The difference is it’s located at the clutch pedal and is called the clutch safety switch. This device works similarly to the neutral safety switch in that it acts as a switch that also prevents the vehicle from starting unless a condition is met. For manual vehicles, this means pressing down the clutch pedal as you start your engine.
What does a neutral safety switch do
The neutral safety switch is a device that controls the flow of power from the battery to the starter motor’s circuit. The switch comes with electric contacts that open and close depending on how the transmission is engaged.
When you put the transmission in Park or Neutral, it closes the electric contacts of the neutral safety switch. This allows current to flow to the starter motor which makes it possible for the engine to start. If the transmission is in any other gear then the switch remains open. This restricts the flow of current and makes it impossible to start the engine.
Symptoms of a bad neutral safety switch
If you’re driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission, you need to check the neutral safety switch regularly to see if it’s working. It can be dangerous if this component is damaged because the electrical components and parts that are connected to the switch can be affected permanently. Likewise, accidents may happen as a result of the sudden forward or backward jolt of the vehicle.
The leading cause of neutral safety switch failure is damage to its electrical connections or components. Below are some of the warning signs that your neutral safety switch is damaged and needs replacing.
Engine cranks in Neutral but not in Park
As mentioned above, when the ignition switch is turned on and the transmission is in Park or Neutral, this should allow the vehicle to start. If the ignition switch is on and transmission is in Park but the vehicle does not start, this is an indication that the neutral safety switch might be faulty. Other components of the control or starting circuits like the battery or the starter motor may also be at fault.
Engine cranks in Park but not in Neutral
If the above situation is reversed and the vehicle doesn’t start when the transmission is in Neutral, it’s another indication of a faulty neutral safety switch. In this case, the switch itself might have internal components that are damaged or there is an electrical failure. Sometimes, the switch might have come loose and needs to be adjusted. However, if the switch is in good shape, there might be an even bigger problem with its electrical connections.
The engine does not start at all
If the engine does not crank at all, regardless of where the transmission gear is set, it means that no power is flowing through the neutral safety switch to the starter circuit. As a result, the starter motor cannot start the engine. This problem is usually caused by a faulty circuit, a blown fuse, or a problem inside the switch itself. In this case, the switch needs to be replaced immediately.
The engine starts in any gear
When the engine starts in any gear, it means that the neutral safety switch is as good as gone. If this happens, it’s a serious safety hazard that needs to be addressed immediately. The only solution to this is to replace the neutral safety switch right away to avoid accidents and injuries.
In some vehicles, problems with the neutral safety switch might cause the check engine light to come on and the OBD- II code P084F to appear. The P084F code means that the neutral safety switch might be broken, its circuit has a poor connection, or its harness is open or shorted.
When this error code appears, the PCM will disable the engine from starting, since it requires that the transmission is in Park or Neutral to safely start the vehicle. The solution to this error code varies and depends on the exact root cause. However, if the problem is severe, replacing the damaged neutral safety switch is the only option.
How much is a neutral safety switch replacement?
OE replacement parts are just as durable and long-lasting as, if not even better than, their OEM counterparts. The only difference between them is that OE replacements have more variety, are easier sourced, and come in prices that won’t break your bank.
At CarParts.com, we value quality and safety. We have a lot of OE replacement neutral safety switches that are designed specifically for your vehicle’s year, make, and model. The average price range for a replacement neutral safety switch is around $10 to $500.
Finding the right fit
When purchasing a replacement neutral safety switch, you’ll want to narrow down your choices and get the best deals right away. Using the site’s vehicle selector tool, you can easily input your vehicle’s year, make, and model so you’ll be paired with OE replacement neutral safety switches that are compatible with your vehicle. Besides that, you can further narrow down your choices according to your price range and preferred brand using the advanced search filters on the site.
Learn How to Change the Neutral Safety Switch of Your Car
Whenever you turn on the ignition key and start your car, it wouldn't move unless you change gears. The car stays put and doesn't run right away. Even if the transmission is not in neutral mode, the car doesn't move instantly. This is because of the neutral safety switch in your car. This electrical component works like a switch that automatically disables the starter operation of the car if it is not shifted in neutral transmission.
The neutral safety switch is an added safety measure in the car. This prevents you from hitting the road unprepared, thus helping you avoid accidents. To always keep yourself protected, you must make sure that this component is working fine all the time. Once you noticed that the switch is losing its grip, change it right away.
Replacing a damaged neutral switch is not so complicated. It is one of the common DIY jobs that car owners do to save some bucks. Just prepare the right tools, get familiar with the car model and the location of its parts, and follow a good DIY guide. If you're up for the challenge, here is what you need to do:
Difficulty level: Easy
Step 1: Secure your car on the jack stand before working. This way, it would be easier for you to reach the transmission of your car, which is located at the side. Disconnect the car's battery before you begin your task.
Step 2: Find the neutral safety switch. It is usually attached to your car's transmission. You would notice that there is an electrical plug connected to it. Carefully remove the wires using your hands. Do not put too much force on it so you won't break it.
Step 3: Loosen the two bolts that hold the switch using a wrench.
Step 4: Put the new neutral safety switch in place of the old one. Put the wire back and tighten the bolts. Reconnect the car's battery.
Step 5:Remove the jack stands and lower the car. Try to start the vehicle. If you find it difficult turning the key, you might need to adjust the switch.
No sweat! That's all you need to know to change the neutral safety switch in your car. Good luck!