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Neutral Safety Switch

Neutral safety switch
What is a Neutral Safety Switch?

What are the Symptoms of a Faulty Neutral Safety Switch?

Neutral Safety Switch Replacement Cost

How to Replace a Neutral
Safety Switch

What is a Neutral Safety Switch?

A neutral safety switch (also called inhibitor switch) is a safety device used in automobiles that are equipped with an automatic transmission.  The purpose of the neutral safety switch is to prevent the engine from cranking (and possibly starting) when the transmission is in gear.  In other words, a properly functioning neutral safety switch will only allow the engine to crank and start if the shifter lever is in the Park or Neutral position.

Location of Neutral Safety Switch

On a rear wheel drive transmission, the neutral safety switch is located on the the left "drivers" side of the transmission.  On a front wheel drive transaxle, the neutral safety switch is normally located on top of the transaxle. 

The shifter cable/linkage connects to the neutral safety switch.  The switch is normally mounted to the transmission/transaxle using 2 or three 10 millimeter bolts.

  IMPORTANT: A faulty neutral safety switch may allow the engine to crank over and even start when the transmission is in gear.  Such occurrences could result in serious personal injury or death.  Therefore, it is highly recommended that you replace a faulty neutral safety switch immediately.   

Symptoms of a Faulty Neutral Safety Switch

A faulty neutral safety switch may exhibit one or more of the symptoms described below.

> Engine does not crank with shifter in Park or Neutral

While a properly functioning neutral safety switch is suppose to prevent the engine from cranking when the transmission is in gear, a faulty neutral safety switch may prevent the engine from cranking altogether - even when the transmission is in Park or Neutral.

Assuming you have a fully charged battery, clean battery cables, a working started motor and the transmission shifter lever is in the Park or Neutral position, the cause of a no crank condition may be a faulty neutral safety switch.

> Engine does not crank with transmission in Park but will crank when the shifter is placed in Neutral

If the engine does not crank when the transmission is in Park but does crank when the shifter is in Neutral, the neutral safety is bad or the shifter cable (if equipped) is damaged, loose or misadjusted.

> Engine cranks when transmission is in gear (Applies to 1999 and older vehicles)

If the engine cranks when the transmission is in gear - the neutral safety switch is not working and must be replaced.

> Reverse "Back-up" Lights Do Now Work

In many vehicles, the neutral safety switch is responsible for turning on the back-up lights when the transmission is in Reverse. If you are experiencing a no crank condition combined with your reverse lights not working the neutral safety switch is bad.

Neutral Safety Switch Replacement Cost

The cost to replace a neutral safety switch can range from around $30 to more than $300 depending on the year, make and model of the vehicle and whether you replace the switch yourself or have a repair shop or dealership do the work.  If you do-it-yourself, where you purchase the neutral safety switch determines your replacement cost.

 

     
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  Neutral Safety Switch Replacement Costs - Repair Shop and DIY Cost Side by Side  
 
  Vehicle Year, Make, Model Repair Shop DIY Cost Savings Part Cost  
2003 Nissan Altima $179 $36.31 $142.69 $36.31
2001 Ford Focus $157 $23.94 $133.06 $23.94
1999 Ford F-150 Pickup $210 $29.66 $180.34 $29.66
2003 Honda Odyssey $277 $108.06 $168.94 $108.06
1999 Lexus ES300 $332  $135.48 $196.52 $135.48
2004 Audi A4 $375  $160.96 $214.04 $160.96
1994 Ford Bronco $166  $31.15  $134.85  $31.15
2004 Cadillac Escalade $222 $45.62 $176.38 $45.62
1999 Ford Mustang $203 $35.15 $167.85 $35.15
2003 Honda Civic $188  $62.44  $125.56  $62.44
2006 Lincoln Town Car $257 $58.39 $198.61 $58.39
  2004 Chevrolet Cavalier $230  $63.45  $166.55  $63.45  
  2001 Nissan Pathfinder  $272  $69.83 $202.17  $69.83  
   
     
 
How to Replace a Neutral Safety Switch

Replacing a neutral safety switch is a relatively easy repair. The repair involves unplugging an electrical connection and removing two or three bolts that mount the switch to the transmission or transaxle, whichever the case may be. Then you simply mount the new switch in its place.   Approximate time to complete: 1 hour
Average do-it-yourself savings: $150+

  NEXT: Easy to follow Neutral Safety Switch Replacement Procedures
 

 
 
 
     
 
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