The inhibitor switch, commonly known as a neutral safety switch, prevents engine ignition when the car is in neutral. But you’ll have to bypass it in case of a malfunction. Now, if you don’t know how to bypass the neutral safety switch, this article is just for you.
Bypassing a neutral safety switch can be done in a few simple steps. These include locating the switch, disconnecting the wires, and removing it from the transmission. A bad NSS unit could lead to several issues, like stalling the engine, making gear shifting hard, or letting the car run idle.
Additionally, we’ll also show you how to detect and replace a broken switch. Continue to know more –
Checking the Integrity of the NSS Module
A quick performance check can determine if the neutral safety switch is failing. To do this, turn on the car while in neutral. Now, slowly pull on the shift stick and stop when it almost switches gears, but don’t shift gears completely.
This will send a small amount of power to the starter relay. A failing neutral safety switch will start the car in this position.
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Bypass the Neutral Safety Switch
Step One – Find the NSS Module
In most car models, the neutral safety switch is near the shift-stick box. This location may differ between car models. So, it’s best to check the owner’s manual to get the precise location.
Step Two – Disconnect the Battery, and Check for Faulty Wires
After you’ve located the switch, look for the battery connection and unplug it. Also, look for any loose connections or broken wires.
Step Three – Take Off the Protective Covering Box
Sometimes the NSS module is placed inside a plastic casing for protection. Remove the box to get access to the switch.
Step Four – Unscrew the Securing Nuts and Remove the Device
The safety switch is held by 2-3 size 10mm nuts. Use a ¼-inch open-end wrench to loosen the locknut. Then using a crescent wrench, turn the adjustment screw to remove it from the selector shaft.
Step Five – Trim the Connector Wires
Next, trim the wires originating from the safety switch. This wire connects the device to the axle’s topside. You can also temporarily bypass it by shorting the purple wires.
Is Bypassing the Neutral Safety Switch a Safe Procedure?
To bypass the safety switch, connect the purple wires with white lines in the switch circuit. But you should only do this when checking the module.
Bypassing this safety feature can lead to severe accidents, don’t drive the car with this feature disengaged.
When is a Neutral Safety Switch Replacement Necessary?
You might have to get the switch replaced for several reasons. For example –
There’s No Ignition in the Engine
The neutral safety switch works closely with the starter relay, which is responsible for engine ignition. So, a faulty neutral switch can prevent the engine from starting.
This electrical problem occurs when a fuse blows or the starter relay breaks. On such occasions, we highly recommend changing the safety switch as soon as possible.
If the Vehicle Starts Running in Park or Neutral
Usually, a car does not run in neutral. So, if you notice the engine is running in neutral, then the problem could lie in the shifter cable. The cables could be loose or damaged.
In some cases, the car could start in park but not on neutral. This is caused by a wiring problem. Whatever the reason, always get the car checked by a professional.
The Car Shifts Gear on Its Own
In addition to rough gear shifting, a bad neutral safety switch could also make the gearbox misfire. Simply put, this will make the car shift gears on its own and uncontrollably speed up.
Stuck debris or moisture between the contact can short-circuit the safety switch. The shorted circuit may send wrong signals to the transmission causing the car to shift gears.
The Reverse Light Won’t Respond
Although this is an uncommon symptom, unresponsive reverse lights could sometimes be caused by a broken NSS. If you’re facing engine startup and reverse light issues together, then it is likely that the neutral safety switch is at fault.
Instructions for Replacing a Neutral Safety Switch
Replacing an internal component, such as the neutral safety switch, requires expertise, so we recommend leaving this work to a skilled professional.
But if you have experience in automotive repairs and want to replace the part yourself, then follow the step accordingly –
- Remove the negative terminals from the battery to prevent electrocution.
- Find the NSS in your vehicle. The location varies between cars, so consult the user manual to get the exact location.
- Remove the plastic casing of the safety switch.
- Next, unplug the shifter cable and unmount the broken piece using a 12mm wrench.
- Finally, mount the new NSS. Put everything back together.
Should You Drive with a Faulty Neutral Safety Switch?
No, you shouldn’t. A bad neutral switch won’t completely stop your car, and it is possible to drive with a faulty NSS. But we highly discourage this practice as it poses serious safety hazards.
A malfunctioning switch could lead to problems such as – stalling mid-drive, sudden speed increase, hard gear shifting, transmission issues, etc. Sooner or later, these will lead to accidents.
Tips for Keeping the Neutral Safety Switch Clean
In time, electrical components like the neutral safety switch will wear out. It can become rusted or accumulate dirt. This leads to a faulty NSS unit.
Luckily, cleaning the switch is easy. All you need is a clean cloth and electrical contact cleaner. Spray the solution on the wire contacts and wait for 5 minutes. Then wipe off any dust or grime.
Keeping the sensor clean will extend its lifespan as well as keep it properly functional.
Essential Safety Measures You Should Follow
Following these guidelines will ensure the vehicle’s as well as your well-being –
- Keep your feet on the brake when bypassing the neutral switch.
- Disconnect the battery connections.
- Make sure no one is around before you start the engine.
- Shift the gear in the parking position before starting the engine.
- Raise the car using a floor jack.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does a faulty safety switch make shifting gear hard?
Yes, a faulty switch will make shifting hard. The neutral safety switch works closely with the transmission and prevents the car from moving when put idle or parked. So, when it gets damaged, the transmission may malfunction, causing the car to stall unexpectedly.
How much will an NSS module cost?
Replacing a switch will cost around $150-300, including labor charges. The charges may vary depending on the taxes and workshop owners.
Typically, the price of an NSS falls in the ballpark of $50-$75. However, it may cost more if you’re repairing an imported or vintage car.
Can I start the car with a faulty safety switch?
A bad neutral safety switch won’t let your engine start. But it is possible to go around this problem. Simply turn on the car, put your foot on the brake, and shift the gears to neutral. Now turn the ignition key to start the car.
Is there a fuse in the neutral safety switch?
Yes, the NSS module has a fuse for additional safety. During an electrical surge, the fuse will break and prevent the NSS circuit from overloading. This feature is present in both mechanical and automatic cars.
Are the safety switch and transmission range sensor the same?
The transmission range sensor and safety switch are accident-preventive devices. It prevents the car from starting while in park or idle.
Both devices are similar in functionality but differ in their operational period. The range finder is a recent extension of the starter control circuit, whereas the safety switch has been around for a long time.
A neutral safety switch plays a crucial part in vehicle safety. And you should seek professional help if you think it needs replacing.
To recap, you can bypass the safety switch by disconnecting the wires and removing them from the transmission. Connecting the purple wires with white lines in the switch circuit will also have the same effects.
Now, you know how to bypass the neutral safety switch. But remember, it is a short-term solution. We recommend replacing it as soon as possible.