What is the neutral safety switch? The neutral safety switch keeps your Subaru in gear when you’re not on the gas. It also prevents your car from rolling backward when you press on your brakes or when you’re stopped at a light.
Without this safety feature, accidents could occur while the car is parked because it could roll away while a driver gets out of the vehicle, for example. The neutral safety switch is found in manual transmission-equipped vehicles.
Can a bad neutral safety switch cause shift problems?
Yes, a faulty neutral safety switch can not only cause frustrating shift issues, but it could also lead to more serious mechanical difficulties or play a part in an accident.
The neutral safety switch is part of the transmission and helps keep the car from rolling backward when you’re parked. If there’s anything wrong with it, you could have problems with how well your car shifts.
Here’s a closer look at the neutral safety switch and what it does, how it works, and how you might tell if yours is faulty:
What problems can a bad neutral safety switch cause?
If the neutral safety switch isn’t working properly, you’ll experience poor performance from your vehicle when you try to drive away from a stop. A faulty neutral safety switch can cause the car to “lug down” with jarring shifting. It’s also possible for a car to stall and refuse to restart.
The neutral safety switch’s job is to prevent your vehicle from rolling backward when you’re parked and your foot isn’t on the gas. If this mechanism fails, your vehicle will be neutral while you think it’s in gear.
This means that whenever you press on the accelerator pedal or try to shift into another gear, nothing changes while you expect it does so.
How does a bad neutral safety switch affect shifting?
Here are two common occurrences related to an issue with the neutral safety switch: 1) The transmission will sometimes fail to downshift when driving out of second gear, sometimes jumping from second into fourth gear instead of downshifting into third.
This results in the engine lugging and the vehicle speeds dropping quickly as the car drops to lower gears. 2) The transmission will sometimes over-rev, causing the car to lurch forward with a quick spin of the engine when starting from a stop.
Is a neutral safety switch the same as a transmission range sensor?
The neutral safety switch is not the same as the transmission range sensor. A faulty neutral safety switch can cause problems within your transmission in addition to affecting shifting and related performance.
Diagnosing a bad neutral safety switch requires a Subaru diagnostic scan tool, such as an STI-III, which will allow a technician to pinpoint the problem.
A transmission range sensor problem will cause similar shifting difficulties, but it will also show up during a scan as well as on your car’s dashboard when you turn it on with Shift Hold Control active. The Shift Hold Control is located in your instrument cluster and allows you to hold gears while driving.
Can you bypass the neutral safety switch?
Yes, but it’s not recommended. While it is possible to bypass the neutral safety switch, it could lead to more serious shifting problems in addition to potentially causing a rollaway situation.
If you’re experiencing shifting issues that seem like they could be related to a bad neutral safety switch, bring your vehicle into your favorite dealership for more information and assistance.
How much does it cost to replace a neutral safety switch?
The cost to replace a neutral safety switch will vary by year and model. If you’re interested in getting an estimate for your vehicle, call your local dealership. However, the average cost is between $100-400.
Robert Anderson is a world class motorhead who rebuilt his first carb at age 10, his first engine at age 15, and completed his first full hotrod build when he was just 18! Previously, he has ran a part warehouse, delivered pizzas, and managed the service department for a $20 million/year revenue dealership. Robert knows cars like few others and he is passionate about sharing his knowledge.