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How to Replace a Neutral
Safety Switch

A neutral safety switch can fail at anytime without warning.  The symptoms of a failed neutral safety switch include: 

Engine does not crank over when shifter is in the Park position.  When you turn the key to start the engine nothing happens.  It's similar to having a dead battery. 

When the shifter is placed in Neutral, the engine cranks and starts normally. 

Engine cranks when the shifter lever is in any gear, including Drive and Reverse.

Reverse lights (or back-up lights as they are also called) not working in conjunction with anyone of the above symptoms.

Neutral Safety Switch - What is it?  Learn more here.

Do-it-Yourself Procedures for
Replacing a Neutral Safety Switch

Neutral Safety Switch Location and Access

In a Rear Wheel Drive vehicle, the Neutral Safety Switch is located on the left side (driver's side) of the transmission.  To access and remove/replace the neutral safety switch, the front of the vehicle must be raised and supported with jack stands to allow space fto work underneath the vehicle.

In a Front Wheel Drive vehicle, the Neutral Safety Switch is normally located on the top of the transaxle.  In most instances replacing the switch can be done from the engine compartment - it may not be necessary to raise the vehicle.

Time and Cost

Approximate time to complete: 1-hour
Cost for Neutral Safety Switch: Low $25   High $160

Note: The cost for a neutral safety switch is normally between $30 and $60.  For certain imports and other high-end late model vehicles the cost can be significantly higher.

Things You Will Need

  • Neutral Safety Switch - Get it Here!
  • 10 MM Wrench or 10 MM socket with ratchet
  • 12 MM Wrench or 12 MM socket with ratchet
  • Pliers
  • Flat Head Screwdriver
  • Floor Jack and Jack Stands or Car Ramps

Park vehicle on hard level surface.  Set the emergency brake and place shifter lever in the "P" Park position.  Pull hood latch.

1Raise front of vehicle.  Use car ramps or floor jack to raise front of vehicle.  If floor jack is used, the raised vehicle must be secured with jack stands.  DO NOT WORK UNDERNEATH A RAISED VEHICLE SECURED BY A JACK ONLY.

If your vehicle is front wheel drive, you should be able to replace the switch from the top.  Raising the vehicle will not be necessary.  

IMPORTANT: With the full weight of the vehicle resting on the jack stands, push against the front corner of the vehicle to test stability.  If the vehicle moves, reset the jack stands.  Or, for this particular job, driving the front wheels on car ramps is recommended.

1Open the hood and disconnect the negative battery cable.  Be sure to position the battery cable end away from the battery terminal so there is no chance of arching.

1From underneath a rear wheel drive vehicle or from under the hood on a front wheel drive vehicle, locate the neutral safety switch.  Some vehicles have a plastic cover covering the switch.

The neutral safety switch is mounted to the transmission (or transaxle) by two or three 10mm or 12mm bolts.

The shifter cable/linkage is attached to the switch and it has a single electrical connector plugged into it.   

replace neutral safety switch1Unplug the electrical connector from the switch.  Electrical connectors are plastic and can become brittle over time, so be careful not to break the connector when unplugging it from the switch.

1Remove the shifter linkage from the Pin extruding from the transmission and through the neutral safety switch.  The linkage is typically held on with a 12mm nut or bolt. 

1Loosen and remove the two 10 MM bolts holding the switch to the transmission.  Remove the neutral safety switch.

IMPORTANT: Make note of the slot of the old neutral safety switch before remove it so you can install the new switch the same way.

1Install the new Neutral Safety Switch is reverse order.


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