4 Symptoms of a Bad Neutral Safety Switch (and Replacement Cost)

(Updated on May 25, 2020)

The neutral safety switch is often an overlooked component of a vehicle. When you go to start your engine, the gear must be set to Neutral or Park. Most people will already have their gear set to Park from when they parked their car before and that is fine.

However, automatic transmission systems are built with a safety component which prevents you from starting the engine if the gear is set to another gear other than Neutral or Park. This component is the neutral safety switch.

For instance, if you inadvertently set the gear to Drive and then try to start the engine, the neutral safety switch will prevent the engine from starting. That way, the vehicle will not roll forward right afterward.

In an automatic transmission vehicle, the neutral safety switch is typically placed inside the case of the transmission. It may also be integrated into the linkage which gives the transmission its ability to change gears.

As long as the gear is at Neutral or Park, the neutral safety switch will let the ignition switch send its electrical current to the ignition system and starter motor.

Manual transmissions have a different component that acts in a similar manner as the neutral safety switch. This component is installed in the clutch of the vehicle and it prevents the engine from being started if the clutch pedal is not pressed.

Common Bad Neutral Safety Switch Symptoms

If you have a bad neutral safety switch, it could cause irreversible damage to your engine and/or transmission. That is why you need to recognize the symptoms of a bad neutral safety switch. Then you will know when to bring your vehicle to a mechanic so that they can replace your faulty switch.

1) No Crank When in Park

starting car key in ignition

If you have set the gear to park in your automatic transmission and the engine does not crank after you turn the key in the ignition, then you probably have a problem with your neutral safety switch.

Of course, you might not recognize this problem as being directly connected to your neutral safety switch because the same symptom can occur from a bad battery or starter motor.

2) No Crank When in Neutral

Sometimes the engine might crank in park but not in neutral. This is another possible symptom of a neutral safety switch problem.

The switch itself might still be in good shape, but it could be loose in the transmission or there could be an electrical issue that is preventing the switch from receiving power.

3) Can Crank in Any Gear

transmission in reverse

The most obvious symptom of a bad neutral safety switch is when you can crank the engine in any gear. You could have the gear set to Drive or Reverse and still be able to crank it.

If the engine is running, you will be able to crank it again too. This could lead to a serious car accident if this happens while you’re driving.

4) No Crank When in Park and Neutral

If your neutral safety switch is having serious electrical problems, then your engine will not crank in park or neutral. The starter relay relies on the switch for receiving power. If it can’t receive this power, then the starter motor will not be able to crank the engine.

Neutral Safety Switch Replacement Cost

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neutral safety switch replacement cost

The replacement cost of a neutral safety switch is anywhere from $95 to $150. The parts cost will be around $50 while the labor costs will be between $45 and $100.

As you can see, this is usually a very affordable replacement job to get done. The cost of the part is cheap and since it doesn’t take long for the mechanic to perform the replacement, their labor costs will be cheap too.

19 thoughts on “4 Symptoms of a Bad Neutral Safety Switch (and Replacement Cost)”

  1. I had my Neutral Safety Switch replaced on my 2013 Mazda 3 Mazda car. Symptoms were, car would not start; had to put it in neutral to start it and my “P” for Park would not illuminate in the dashboard to show me it is in park.

    Current problems. I believe the dipshit mechanic did not do the correct adjustments on my NSS or it is a faulty/bad NSS. Why I believe that? The car starts fine now. HOWEVER, the P for Park will not illuminate sometime, the R for Reverse will not illuminate most of the time, and my D for Drive will blink in and out when driving sometime. The check engine light NEVER come on. How can I find out if these three things are connected to my NSS? What could be wrong with my car?

  2. Just a thought… Adjustment of the switch? If it is not accurate then ALL the lights will be either off or on part time as the contacts are slightly off? I own a Mazda but have not had this trouble (YET). The fact that Park is off permanent and the others are intermittent makes me pretty sure that is the problem. Imagine the parts in the switch not able to make full contact in the park position- then as you move into other positions they may only just make contact, bump in the road may make it go on and off as you say it does in D.

  3. Can in make your car go into neutral while going down the road and want go back into you stop turn off Car. I have a 2004 Honda Civic and looking for a answer why my car is jumping into neutral after motor warms up? Anyone ever had this problem?

  4. My f250 super duty starts fine the first time but after driving for awhile and turning off it will not start again until it cools off, could this be the problem also this started about the same time my shift indicated broke

    • My dad had same problem with his truck..2002 f250 7.3.. i changed icp sencor crank sensor ipr sensor..glow plug solenoid. inspected fuel for water in it.. check my plug on neutral safety switch…Still wouldnt start after it was warm and he shuts it off.. Last thing i dit was clean his battery cables both sides positive and grounds.. And its been starting up every time since.. Still baffles me but i dont know bro try cleaning cables esprcially thegrounds on block …kick a tire. any tire you want and give a try…

    • Sounds like your starter is overheating, happened with a Trans Am I had and the remedy was to wrap the starter in a heat wrap. Apparently the starter was right next to the catalytic converter and would only start cold

  5. I just got a 2002 Mazda mvp and when I turn it off the is stuck in the ignition. The only way to get the key out is to disconnect the battery. What would be the problem? Please help

  6. Have a 1987 300 sel mercedez
    Had the petrol pump replaced also a couple of other little things
    Having to start my car in neutral sometimes prompted me to get a new safety switch hard to get though.
    Haven’t had it installed as yet.
    But can a faulty switch give trouble starting as if there is no petrol ?

    • A faulty neutral safety switch could cause the vehicle not to crank. Usually when you’re out of gas you can crank but won’t be able to start.

  7. Had the same issue on my 06 f250 6.0l .The root cause was the o-rongs on stand pipes and dummy plugs(located inside of valve covers)were worn causing too low of oil pressure to fire the injectors so truck will not start back up after being shut off till oil can get cool and thicken up to cause higher oil pressure to fire the injectors. Eventually it’s going to get to where it will not start at all if not fixed.

  8. I have a 96 Toyota T100 4×4 6 cylinder automatic transmission the plug that plugs into the neutral safty switch has become so brittle that the wires came out of the plug housing. What’s my alternatives on fixing this problem??

    • In a standard transmission it should be located near the clutch pedal assembly. On an auto, it’s usually near the shift lever. If you google your make and model, you will probably find a helpful adjustment video on YouTube, or a walkthrough in a forum.

  9. I have 1998 chevy s10 4.3 liter 6 cylinder engine had the engine rebuild when i brought it to him my indicator shift light was working can see when you put it in park or drive now it eliminate but no steady light to see when i shift .. I had the cluster looked at and said it was good.. I was told at the shop could be be neutral switch near the transmission the problem. The truck starts and runs well just the light not working when you shift. Could that be the problem?

  10. I have a 2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. I can’t seem to get a straight answer from anyone. I know that it needs a new Neutral Safety Switch. While the part is inexpensive, I have been told that it would cost up to $1200.00 to replace. I’ve been told that it is in the transmission and that they would have to drop it to fix. Then I have been told that it is on the outside. Can anyone tell me up straight?

  11. I have a 2008 Nissan Altima automatic the check engine light pop up and got it check out and it read Neutral safety switch it start in parking and runs i dont understand can somebody tell me im very corcern the miles in that car is271000miles high milage

    • Might be a wiring issue, or you might need a new neutral safety switch. Sounds like something that would be releatively inexpensive for a transmission shop to help you out with.

  12. my wife has a 1998 transam automatic transmission , the car will start but the shifter will not move . could this be the neutral safety switch or the switch behind the break pedal which i have already replaced .

  13. Depends on whether it is auto or manual but it is typically fairly cheap to fix. 1200 is too expensive in my opinion.


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