How to Spot A Malfunctioning Neutral Safety Switch

Ever since automatic transmissions came into existence in the early 1930s, the popularity of auto gearboxes has been steadily growing … Continued

Ever since automatic transmissions came into existence in the early 1930s, the popularity of auto gearboxes has been steadily growing ever since.

And with the increasing number of car owners who opt for the convenience of not using a manual gear stick, specific issues concerning automatic transmissions are becoming more apparent – such as a faulty neutral safety switch.

That’s what we’re going to be focusing on in today’s post and more specifically, we’ll take a look at four brilliant ways that you can use to identify a problematic safety switch.

First and foremost, let’s take a look at what this mechanism actually is.

What on earth is a neutral safety switch?

The neutral safety switch is a device that controls the engine starting process. In fact, it will only allow you to start the engine when the transmission is in either Neutral or Park mode. Mostly, what this switch does is it stops the vehicle from moving if it’s in gear.

And this handy gadget is mounted on cars with either an auto gearbox or a transaxle – In some cases, the neutral safety switch is even connected to the shifter system.

4 Easy Methods for Detecting a Faulty Neutral Safety Switch

When it comes to dealing with a bad safety switch, there are certain warning signs that you should be aware of and that’s why right now we’ll check the most common symptoms and red flags that might indicate some sort of an issue with the switch.

1. The engine doesn’t start in Park, but starts in Neutral mode

If you put the key into the ignition and turn it (or push the start button if you don’t have any keys), while the transmission is in Parking mode, the starter of your vehicle should turn on and the engine should start.

But if the engine doesn’t start, then the reason for that may be… you guessed it – a faulty neutral safety switch.

Keep in mind that this problem can be associated with other elements of your car as well, such as a damaged starter, problems with the battery or another malfunctioning component of your car. That’s why consulting with a mechanic might be a good idea.

car in park mode

2. The other way around – the engine doesn’t start in Neutral but starts in Park mode

This is quite identical to the previous issue, but the difference here is that in this case, your car starts when your auto gearbox is set in Park mode, but not in Neutral.

And the reason for that is most likely a problem with the safety switch. There may be an issue with the internal components of the neutral safety switch, leading it to trigger while it’s only in a certain gear (Parking).

Alternatively, another cause might be an electrical issue or even the safety switch itself can be loose and all it needs could be some readjusting. Any good mechanic would be able to fix that if the problem is spotted early.

3. The engine wouldn’t start, no matter what

It doesn’t matter whether your car is in a particular gear or not, the engine simply refuses to crank. Most likely, the cause is an issue with the neutral safety switch and in particular – electrical malfunctions.

If that’s the case, then there will be no power going from the switch to your cars’ starter. And what happens when the starter is power-starved? Your engine cannot start.

This is a sign of an open electrical circuit in the safety switch and that might be coming from a broken relay, blown fuse or even an electrical issue with the actual neutral safety switch. The solution is rather simple – just replace the neutral safety switch.

4. You can start the engine in any gear

If you can start the engine even if it’s in gear, then there’s a good chance that the safety switch has an internal problem, such as a short circuit.

Note that when this happens, your car is actually left without the safety features related to the neutral safety switch. That’s why, in order to remain risk-free, your best bet would be to replace the switch as quickly as you can.

Conclusion

Being able to recognise specific signs and symptoms of a faulty neutral safety switch is an essential aspect of ensuring the safety of everyone on board.

And if you spot any of the warning signs mentioned previously, don’t think twice about visiting a certified mechanic to check the neutral safety switch of your car.

Sources:

  1. Neutral Safety Switch Symptoms, Function & Replacement – Base Mechanic
  2. Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Neutral Safety Switch – Your Mechanic