Bad Neutral Safety Switch Symptoms and Replacement Cost

Bad Neutral Safety Switch Symptoms

New models of cars, especially those with auto transmission systems come to equip with a neutral safety switch which serves its purpose for safety.

A neutral safety switch is designed to start the engine when its automatic transmission is either in the park or neutral. This safety device works by preventing the car from unintentionally starting up while in gear, which may result in unexpected launching forward. This component is sadly overlooked at times.

However, if something happens with this device, your safety and that of your car may be at risk. To prevent this from happening, let us take a look at some of the bad neutral safety switch symptoms.


Symptoms of Bad Neutral Safety Switch

If you are suspecting some problems, simply ignoring it will not do any good. It may only result in uncontrollable damage to the transmission and/or engine of your car. This is the reason why it is very important to know the purpose of the neutral safety switch and to identify a faulty neutral safety switch. In the end, this knowledge will help you in determining whether it is time for you to bring your car to a mechanic so that a replacement can be done.

1. "Check Engine Light" Lit Up

If you notice that the check engine light is turned on, and you have an OBD scanner that you can use, you may want to check the code indicated. This is part of the neutral safety switch troubleshooting procedure that you may want to take. If the display shows code P084F, this is an indicator that the neutral switch is bad, making the diagnosis quite easy.

2. Vehicle Starting Up in Any Gear

Does your car starts in neutral, but not park? This means that the engine of your car is cranking though it is in moving gear. This could mean that the neutral switch of your car is faulty since it should not have allowed the engine to go in any gear aside from either park or neutral. Your observation and diagnosis usually end here, for the rest of the check may be done by an authorized mechanic who has the right tools, equipment, and knowledge regarding neutral switch automatic transmission.

3. Engine Does Not Start at All

A car engine that does not start at all may be an indicator of several other problems, such as a faulty starter, bad ignition, or a bad battery. This can be checked by checking to see whether the light on the dashboard is on when you turn the key halfway. To make a thorough check and find the real cause of the problem, a mechanic needs to handle the job for you.

Even though specific system designs may vary, the car’s neutral safety switch typically serves as the interrupter between the starter and the starter relay, as well as the starter relay and the key. In a car’s normal operation, the internal circuit of the switch will close only while in the park or neutral. There is no other position in which the power will go from the ignition key to the starter relay or the starter relay to the starter. If the starter of your vehicle does not engage as you turn the key in either neutral or park, then this could be a huge indicator of a faulty switch. 

4. Inconsistency in Starting

This happens if your car starts at times, but sometimes does not. If this happens rarely, you are fortunate enough. However, there is still a possibility that the neutral switch is either about to fail or completely faulty. In these situations, the problem could also be elsewhere, including the starter, the ignition, and even the wiring.

Regardless of the case, you need a real mechanic to help in identifying and solving the problem. If you notice that the car starts before the engine is turned or right after the gear stick is shifted several times, then most likely, the neutral safety switch is the problem. 

5. The Engine Starts in Any Gear

If you can start the engine of your car even though it is in gear, there is a likelihood that the neutral safety switch is faulty, especially in its internal circuits. This is, by far, one of the most visible symptoms of a faulty switch. When you notice that the engine can be cranked regardless of the gear, which means being able to set the gear to Reverse or Drive, and still crank it. Also, if the engine is starting and running, you can crank again as well. When left unfixed, this may result in a bad vehicle accident when this occurs while you are driving on the road.

When this happens, the vehicle is left without the protection and safety offered by the neutral safety switch. To avoid potential hassles and problems, the best thing to do is to replace the neutral switch as soon as possible. 

Ford Focus Neutral Safety Switch Problems YouTube Video


The Neutral Safety Switch Replacement Cost

The actual replacement cost may vary, as this highly depends on the make and model of your car. However, the average estimated price of a neutral safety switch replacement ranges from $50 to $150. Aside from this, you also need to factor in the costs of labor, which may range between $50 and $100.


Last Words

This switch plays a very important role in the car. Without it, your safety will be compromised. Knowing about the above mentioned bad neutral safety switch symptoms will help you to avoid problems in the long run. Being able to determine them is a very important aspect of making sure that everyone on board is protected accordingly. If you notice any of the problems above, avoid thinking twice about going to your local mechanic shop to have the neutral safety switch checked, and replaced if necessary. A mechanic who is trained to do this job will help you avoid hassles associated with this problem.

About the Author JamesL Davis

James is a certified auto technician specializing in commercial vehicles. With 30 years of experience under his belt, James has encountered almost every type of automotive issue there is! Besides his day job at the repair shop, he is also an amateur race car driver.

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