If you’ve ever had your car crank over when it’s in neutral, but won’t in park, chances are you have a bad neutral safety switch. Generally, you can bypass a neutral safety switch, but you’re on borrowed time. Should you need to bypass the neutral safety switch, here’s how to do it.
What is the Neutral Safety Switch?
The neutral safety switch enables one to turn the car over when it is in park or neutral. This safety feature came about in the 1950s but was not installed on all automatics until the 1980s. While this is a great safety feature to have on a vehicle, once it starts to fail, a whole host of other issues can arise.
When turning your key on your car in an automatic transmission, a current is sent to your vehicle’s engine by the battery. This allows the starter to fire so you can drive. Should the car be in any other gear besides park or neutral, it will not turn over.
In a manual transmission, there is a neutral safety switch located by the pedal. The car will not start unless the clutch pedal is depressed. On manual transmission, the switch is a simpler design, and should it fail, it is easier to replace.
Signs a Neutral Safety Switch is Failing
There are many signs that a neutral safety switch is failing. If you notice any of these symptoms, have them checked out. People have reported that the engine cranks over in other gears, besides park or neutral. This is downright dangerous and could cause serious injury or even death.
The Engine Cranks in Park But Not in Neutral
If your engine will crank in park, but not when in neutral, a bad neutral safety switch could be to blame. There could be an internal component that is failing within the switch, activating only park and not neutral. There could also be an electric failure. A switch end might also need to be tightened.
The Engine Cranks in Neutral But Not in Park
You may find yourself on the exact opposite as above and find your engine will only crank over in neutral. While it could be a bad neutral safety switch, it may also be a battery problem. You may even see a broken starter or other factors that would cause the car to only start in neutral.
Engine Will Not Turn Over
You may find that the engine will not even turn over at all, no matter what gear the car is in. Generally, mechanics see this when there are electrical issues in the neutral safety switch. There will not be any power going from the switch to the starter relay. Thus, the motor will not even turn over.
Engine Turns Over in Any Gear
If you have a faulty neutral safety switch, you could find that your engine will turn over in any gear. This can be caused by a short. Should this be the case, the car is not even safe to drive. Many deaths and injuries have occurred
What to do if the Neutral Safety Switch is Bad
If you find that you have a bad neutral safety switch, you will need to have it tested and replaced or repaired as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more damage will be done. If you are a car pro, you can do this yourself. If not, find a reputable mechanic that can take a look to see what is going on.
Fixing a Faulty Neutral Safety Switch
Once you have figured out you have a bad neutral safety switch, you should plan on having it fixed. Car savvy individuals may fancy doing this job themselves.
To fix the neutral safety switch, locate your car’s manual and determine where the safety switch of your car is located. Some are on the side of the transmission, while others may be found on the shifter linkage. Other times you will find it in the transmission housing.
Once you have found this, you will disconnect the battery. The car must be parked on level ground in a safe space. Engage the parking brake, jack your car up, and place jacks stand under the front so you can crawl underneath the car. If your vehicle has a floor shifter, you might not need to use jacks.
Once the neutral safety switch has been found, you will want to remove what is around it to easily remove this part. There may be lots of bolts holding this part into place, so be certain you have a variety of wrenches and ratchets to replace it. You will also be responsible for removing the wiring harness.
Once you have the new switch in, replace all the wires and bolts, then test the new switch out. You will know it was successful if the car only starts in park. Should it start in any gear, you know that there are still some issues to iron out, so you will need to go back and undo wires to troubleshoot what went wrong.
Can You Bypass the Neutral Safety Switch?
Yes, you can bypass the neutral safety switch. You will need to connect the purple wire with the other purple wire that has a white line on it. It is advised to only do this when testing the neutral safety switch.
Cost of Repair and Replacement of Neutral Safety Switch
Generally, a replacement for a neutral safety switch will cost about $50. This will depend on where you purchase the part from, as well as the make and model of the car. The labor, depending on the mechanic, could be anywhere from $45 to $100.
If you have a bad neutral safety switch, you can try to bypass it, but truth be told, it will not last very long. The neutral safety switch may not seem like an important piece of equipment in a car, but it does help to keep you safe. And the sooner you fix it once you realize you are having issues with it, the better.