The 3 Warning Signs of a Bad Neutral Safety Shift (and Replacement Cost).
Modern vehicles have a lot of electronic components, but most serve a crucial function. That’s definitely the case with the neutral safety switch.
But while it keeps you and your vehicle safe when everything is working correctly, when it’s not, it can be incredibly frustrating. In this guide, we’ve broken down the three most common symptoms of a faulty neutral safety switch before diving into everything else you need to know about these critical components.
From what it does to where it’s at on your vehicle and how much it will cost to replace, we got you covered. Keep reading.
The most common symptom of a vehicle with a faulty neutral safety switch is that the vehicle won’t crank when the transmission is in park or neutral. You may also notice you can start your car in all gears if it’s faulty.
But while those are the most common symptoms, those aren’t the only things you should look out for.
Moreover, just because your vehicle won’t crank while you’re in park doesn’t mean you should jump to replacing your neutral safety switch. We’ll dive into each issue below, so you know exactly what you need to look out for.
Here’s a more detailed list of the most common symptoms of a bad neutral safety switch:
Bad Neutral Safety Shift Symptoms
1. Parks are not for cranking
If your vehicle is in park – and double-check that it is in park – but you can’t get it to crank at all, you might have a faulty neutral safety switch. Before you jump to the neutral safety switches, make sure your battery is fully charged and the starter works properly.
2. In neutral, there is no need to crank
Most people who drive automatic vehicles try to get their car out of park. However, it should still be possible to put your car in neutral.
You may have a defective neutral safety switch if your car can only start in neutral, but not in the park or vice-versa. However, sometimes your vehicle won’t start in either park or neutral, and the neutral safety switch is still the problem.
But if you’re lucky, you might be able to buy yourself a little more time before making repairs if it will still start in either neutral or park.
3. It is possible to crank the engine in any gear
A faulty neutral safety button can cause the engine to crank in every gear. This may seem small, but if your engine is damaged or you are driving down the road, this can be a problem.
If you can’t get your vehicle to crank in neutral or park, it shouldn’t start in other gears, but if you can start it in other gears, you should still be able to start your vehicle in park and neutral. This can make it tempting to just ignore the problem, but it’s just an accident waiting to happen if you do.
A Neutral Safety Switch: What Does It Do?
Your vehicle’s neutral safety switch is there to ensure that you can only start your vehicle with the transmission in neutral or park. This is a critical function because if you try to start your vehicle while the transmission is in gear, you can cause engine damage, and if you’re not careful, your engine can launch.
A neutral safety switch prevents you deactivating the starter accidentally while your engine is running. If this were to happen, you’d likely damage your starter and engine, and it can lead to an accident. This can not only be costly but also dangerous.
Safety is the reason the switch has the name "neutral safety". This is because it prevents you from injuring anyone or damaging your engine.
This component can either stop you from getting your car started in any particular gear or allow you to do so at all times. Any of these situations can result in major headaches.
Position of the Neutral Safety Switch
Your vehicle’s neutral safety switch is mounted on the transmission by the shift lever. This is not the shift lever in your vehicle – it’s what the shift lever in your vehicle moves on your transmission.
If you’re underneath your vehicle looking at the transmission, it looks like a semi-circle metal block, often with a cord attached to it. This is what causes your transmission to shift gears, and it’s what sends a signal to your ECM/TCM to disengage the starter when your vehicle is in gear.
Prices for Neutral Safety Switch Repair
The cost of replacing neutral safety switches in an automobile is typically between $150 to $300 depending on its make and model. It is therefore one of the most affordable jobs to replace a safety switch. However, your actual repair cost will depend on the vehicle you use and where it is taken for repairs.
However, if you’re looking to save even more money and do the job yourself, you can typically find an aftermarket neutral safety switch for between $20 and $125. If you want an OEM replacement part, realize that you’re likely going to spend a little more.
The labor costs are typically between $50 and $75, depending on the repair cost. So, if you’re not comfortable doing the job yourself, you’re not going to spend much more to have a certified technician complete the repairs for you.
If you are looking to replace the part yourself, it’s generally not too difficult if you have access to your transmission. Just make sure that you reinstall your vehicle’s transmission gear selector lever in the correct position. Otherwise, you’re going to run into problems when you try to drive your vehicle.
Finally, once you replace your neutral safety switch, you shouldn’t have to worry about replacing it again, making it one of the more durable components on your vehicle.
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