What Does a Neutral Safety Switch Do?

by Lexa W. Lee

A neutral safety switch is an electrical part that is only installed in a car with automatic transmission. The switch prevents the engine from starting when the transmission is in gear

Safety device

The neutral safety switch is a safety device. Ensuring the car cannot be started unless the transmission is in neutral or park prevents the car from moving immediately when it is started.


The location of the neutral safety switch depends on the car model. It may be in the steering column or the transmission selector shaft.

Reverse Light

Typically, the reverse lights, which are integrated into the switch, automatically come on when the engine is started. This is also for safety--a visible indication the driver has started the engine and may be backing up. Failure of the switch prevents the car starter and reverse lights from functioning.

About the Author

Lexa W. Lee is a New Orleans-based writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has contributed to "Central Nervous System News" and the "Journal of Naturopathic Medicine," as well as several online publications. Lee holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Reed College, a naturopathic medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and served as a postdoctoral researcher in immunology.

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