How to Replace the Neutral Safety Switch on Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The neutral safety switch on the Vehicles prevents the Vehicles from being accidentally started in any other position than park or neutral. This prevents the Vehicles from being started in gear and taking off which could cause an accident since the brake pedal does not need to be applied in order to turn the engine over. Like on many other domestic Vehicles the switch on the Vehicles also accounts Vehicles the back-up light switch. The center terminal in the plug on the switch is Vehicles the neutral safety switch and the the two on either side of it is Vehicles each back-up light.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace the Neutral Safety Switch on a 1997 Dakota Pickup Truck

Drive the 1997 Dodge Dakota slowly up onto two car ramps and apply the parking brake. Turn the engine off and remove the keys.

Put on a pair of safety glasses and crawl underneath the Dakota and locate the transmission behind the engine (and the transfer case on four-wheel drive models).

Locate the neutral safety switch on the driver's side lower housing of the transmission. It will have a wire harness plugged into it and underneath the plug, the switch will offer a hex-head in order to remove it from the transmission with a socket and ratchet.

Prep the replacement neutral safety switch with thread seal compound or tape on the threads and set it aside in a handy location without getting the threads contaminated with dirt or grease from under the truck.

Place the drain pan beneath the neutral safety switch position in the transmission housing.

Disconnect the wire harness from the neutral safety switch plug.

Loosen the neutral safety switch with the socket and a ratchet until it can be spun/removed my hand. Place the ratchet and socket down, but do not remove the switch yet.

Get the replacement neutral safety switch ready in one hand while removing the old switch with the other hand. Transmission fluid is going to start to pour from the switch port when it is removed. Remove the old switch and hand thread the new one in as quickly as possible to prevent losing too much transmission fluid.

Tighten the neutral safety switch to 25 foot-pounds with the torque wrench and socket.

Crawl out from under the truck with all the tools. Release the parking brake and slowly back down off the car ramps.

Run the engine allowing it enough time to reach operating temperature (inspect the temperature gauge regularly--it could take up to 20-minutes or so). In the interim, hop in the driver's seat and place a foot on the brake pedal while shifting through all the gears periodically.

Open the hood with the engine running and remove the transmission oil dipstick (red or black handled--do not confuse it with the yellow handled engine oil dipstick tube. Wipe the dipstick clean and look at the bottom of the dipstick for the hash-mark indicating "Full." If necessary, add transmission fluid through the dipstick tube using a funnel, but only add a little at a time. Allow a few minutes in between rechecking the level of the fluid so the new fluid is allowed to drain down into the transmission pan from the dipstick tube.

Items you will need

  • 2 car ramps

  • Safety glasses

  • Thread seal compound or tape

  • Replacement neutral safety switch

  • Drain pan

  • Socket and ratchet set

  • Torque wrench compatible with socket set for ratchet

  • Automatic transmission fluid

  • Funnel

 How to Replace a Neutral Safety Switch in a 2002 Impala

Shift the Impala's transmission into park and turn off the ignition. Apply the parking brake and let the engine cool down for 1 hour.

Open the hood and disconnect the negative battery lead using a battery terminal wrench. Raise the front of the Impala using an automotive jack and support it with jack stands. Place wheel chocks behind the rear wheels.

Crawl underneath the front of the car and locate the neutral safety switch. It is on the rear side of the transmission and is a half-moon shape. It's made from black plastic and attaches to the transmission with two metric bolts.

Disconnect the neutral safety switch's electrical connector. Remove the bolts holding the switch to the transmission using a 3/8-inch ratchet and a 13 mm socket. Gently wiggle the neutral safety switch back and forth until it's free from the transmission.

Install a new switch into the transmission and reinstall the 13 mm retaining bolts. Reconnect the switch's electrical connector. Lower the vehicle to the ground using the automotive jack. Reconnect the negative battery lead and start the engine. Shift the transmission into each gear and verify that the dashboard indicator shows the correct gear position.

Items you will need

  • Battery terminal wrench

  • Automotive jack

  • Jack stands

  • Wheel chocks

  • 3/8-inch ratchet

  • 13 mm socket

  • Replacement neutral safety switch

 How to Replace the Neutral Safety Switch in a Jeep Wrangler

Remove Neutral Safety Switch

Loosen and remove the negative better a cable from the battery, using a wrench.

Lift up the vehicle with a jack and lower onto jack stands.

Detach the wiring harness from the neutral safety switch.

Place a container under the transmission pan to catch transmission fluid.

Use a wrench to loosen and remove the screws that hold the safety switch on the transmission. Let the transmission fluid flow into the container.

Install the Neutral Safety Switch

Install the new switch and gasket and tighten the screws with a wrench. Tighten the screws with a torque wrench to 24 foot-pounds of pressure.

Connect the wiring harness to the switch.

Test the switch by putting the transmission in park, then neutral, each time attempting to start the engine. The engine should only start in these positions and is faulty if it starts in any drive gear.

Lift the vehicle with a jack and remove the jack stands. Lower the vehicle onto the ground.

Pour the transmission fluid from the container into the filler tube in the engine compartment. Test the fluid level on the transmission dipstick with the engine running and top off as necessary.

Items you will need

  • Wrench set

  • Jack and jack stands

  • Ohmmeter

 How to Replace the Neutral Safety Switch on a 2000 BMW 328i

Open the passenger door of the 328i and sit in the passenger seat. There is more room on the passenger side of the vehicle to maneuver, as the steering wheel creates an obstruction on the driver's side. Remove the 3 mm hex screw from the front of the shift lever, using a 3 mm Allen or hex-head key. Remove the shift lever by pulling the lever straight up by hand.

Remove the shift indicator console cover, using a flat-head screwdriver to gently pry the cover loose. Pull the shift lever console cover up and off of the shifter area.

Remove the safety switch fasteners, using a flat-head screwdriver to help pry them free if necessary. Remove the shift linkage pins from the safety switch by hand. Disconnect the safety switch electrical harness from the switch by hand. Remove the neutral safety switch from the vehicle.

Install the new neutral safety switch into position on the transmission and push it down into place by hand. The fasteners will snap into position when you have the switch installed correctly.

Install the safety switch positioning pins. Wiggle the shift lever back and forth if necessary to assist you in aligning the pins correctly. Install the neutral safety switch electrical connector by pushing the connector onto the switch by hand.

Reinstall the selector console cover over the shift lever and onto the center console. Push the front of the cover into position and pop the rear of the cover in place by hand. Reposition the shifter knob back on the shift lever. Reinstall the 3 mm screw into the front of the shift knob. Tighten the screw until it is snug, using a 3 mm Allen or hex-head key.

Items you will need

  • 3 mm Allen or hex-head key

  • Flat-head screwdriver

 How to Replace a Neutral Safety Switch in a Sonoma

Remove the Neutral Safety Switch

Apply the parking brake.

Set the transmission to neutral and chock the rear wheels.

Lift the front of your Sonoma pickup using a floor jack, and support it on jack stands.

Look for the neutral safety switch on the driver's side of the transmission.

Unscrew the nut holding the transmission control lever to the manual shaft on the neutral switch, using a wrench or ratchet and socket. Then separate the manual shaft from the transmission control lever.

Unplug the electrical connector from the neutral safety switch.

Unscrew the two mounting bolts securing the neutral safety switch to the transmission, using a ratchet and socket.

Slide the neutral safety switch off the manual shaft and remove the switch from the vehicle. If the switch does not slide off the shaft, says Robert Maddox the "GMC Sonoma Pick-ups Haynes Repair Manual," smooth the outer edge with a file and then remove the switch.

Install the New Neutral Safety Switch

Set the new neutral safety switch on its mounting position on the manual shaft, aligning the switch bracket with the mounting boss on the transmission. Then tighten the two mounting bolts with your fingers.

Mount the neutral position adjustment tool J41364-A on the neutral switch by aligning the two tabs on one end of the tool with the two slots on the small rotating button on the lower part of the neutral switch. (See "Resource" for more information.)

Rotate the adjustment tool to align the pin on the other end of the tool with the slot on top of the neutral safety switch.

Tighten the two switch mounting bolts using the ratchet and socket, and remove the adjustment tool.

Plug the switch electrical connector.

Secure the transmission control lever to the manual shaft, and tighten the mounting nut with the wrench or ratchet and socket.

Lower the truck.

Check the neutral switch. The vehicle should start only in "Park" and neutral.

Items you will need

  • 2 chocks

  • Floor jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • Wrench

  • Ratchet and socket

  • File, if necessary

  • Neutral position adjustment tool J41364-A

 How to Replace the Neutral Safety Switch on a 1996 E320

Pull the hood lever on your Mercedes and open the hood and propr it. Loosen and take off the negative battery cable.

Place your floor jack under your E-320's rear frame and jack it up. Put the jack stands in place and set your car down on them. Test to make sure it is firmly in place.

Find the neutral safety switch. On your Mercedes E-320 it's located directly above the transmission's drain pan on the gear box.

Unplug the E-320's plastic wiring harness with your hand. If it is hard to remove you can use a flat head screwdriver to help to ease it out.

Remove the retaining nut that holds the neutral safety switch to your E-320 transmission's gear box. Remove the old safety switch.

Put the new safety switch in and hand screw the retaining nut. Tighten it with the socket set and then plug the wiring harness back in.

Jack up your E-320 up approximately 4 inches and slide the jack stands out. Lower the car to the ground with your floor jack.

Slip your negative battery cable back onto its post and tighten it down with your socket set.

Items you will need

  • Tire tool

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Flat head screwdriver

  • Socket set

 How to Replace the Neutral Safety Switch in a Chevy Astro

Put on the parking brake, and put the car in neutral.

Disconnect the electrical connectors from the switch (found on the bottom of the steering column). If the car is a 1996 or later model, it is attached to the transmission and you must first disconnect the cable from the negative terminal of the battery, raise the car on jack stands and remove the nut from the manual lever shaft, and remove the lever from the shaft.

Spread the tangs on the housing, and pull the switch out of the steering column. If the vehicle is a 1996 or newer model, instead remove the switch retaining bolts, and remove the switch from the transmission.

Position the tang on the switch with the hole in the shift tube in a 1995 or older model, and then install the switch onto the steering column, and press down until it snaps into position.

Install the special adjustment tool on the switch following the instructions on the package for a 1996 or later. Make sure that where the manual shaft is inserted through the switch, it is aligned with the two lower tabs on the tool. Rotate if necessary.

Check to be sure the shaft is free of burrs and then slide it onto the manual shaft. (If necessary, use a file to deburr).

Install the switch onto the transmission, secure with mounting bolts, remove the special adjustment tool, install the manual shift lever onto the transmission manual shaft and torque all nuts to 21 foot-lbs.

Adjust any year vehicle by putting the car in neutral, grasp the switch and rotate in a clockwise direction as far as it will go. Put the car in Park and check the switch operation; repeat with the car in Neutral.

Items you will need

  • Car jack (1996 or newer)

  • 2 jack stands (1996 or newer)

  • Wrench set

  • Special neutral safety switch adjustment tool (1996 or newer)

  • File

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace a Neutral Safety Switch for a 1994 Toyota Camry

Set the automatic shifter into park. Raise the vehicle using the jack and put jack stands underneath the jack points on the sides of the car. Lower the car onto the stands.

Locate the neutral safety switch on the driver's side of the transmission. Remove the clip connecting the shift lever to the manual control cable using the needle nose pliers.

Place the head of the chisel into the dent on the nut securing the switch to the transmission, then strike the chisel with the hammer so you can turn the bolt. Remove the nut using the ratchet, then remove the switch.

Install the replacement seal gasket then the replacement switch onto the transmission using the factory hardware. Dent the nut (called staking the nut) using the chisel and hammer so that it looks like it did in step 2.

Connect the cables to the switch using the needle nose pliers and the factory clip. Lower the car off the stands with the jack.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Needle nose pliers

  • Dead blow hammer

  • Pointed chisel

  • 3/8-inch ratchet and socket set

  • Replacement neutral safety switch and seal gasket

 How to Replace a Neutral Safety Switch on a Sentra

Raise the rear end of your Sentra with a jack. Slide jack stands under the rear end and align them with the frame. Lower your Sentra onto the jack stands and set the emergency brake.

Locate the neutral safety switch on your Sentra by sliding under the car and looking up at the transmission. The switch is typically mounted on the passenger's side of the transmission toward the rear. The switch is small and oblong-shaped and will be the only device in that area that has a plastic plug attached to the back of it.

Remove the electrical plug from the rear of the neutral safety switch. Depending on the year of your Sentra, there may be two tabs that have to be depressed to unplug the switch.

Use a socket set to remove the retaining bolt that holds the neutral safety switch in place.

Install the new switch then replace and tighten the retaining bolt to hold it in place. Reconnect the electrical wiring plug into the new neutral safety switch.

Raise your Sentra with the jack just enough to remove the jack stands. Pull the jack stands out then lower your Sentra to the ground.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Socket set

  • Replacement neutral safety switch

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.