What is the Clutch Safety Switch all about?
A clutch safety switch is seen in vehicles with a manual transmission because it has a foot clutch that enables the vehicle to start. It is located either on the clutch pedal itself or on the clutch master’s push rod. When the driver presses down on the clutch with their foot, the safety switch closes, which allows power to run through the ignition to the starter relay and to the starter solenoid that starts the engine. The switch opens back up when the clutch is released.
On automatic transmissions, this part is called a neutral safety switch. Since the vehicle doesn’t have a clutch pedal, the component is located on the transmission linkage which is found on the transmission. The purpose of this part is to prevent the engine from starting when the transmission is in gear. The clutch safety switch has a secondary purpose to disable cruise control if the clutch fails while the cruise control is set. In most cases, failure of the clutch safety switch will prevent the engine from starting.
Most issues happen when the switch is open rather than when the clutch is being depressed. In an emergency, the two wires that are connected to the switch can be joined together, allowing the engine to start. However, this also allows the engine to crank in any gear and can be dangerous. It should only be done to move the vehicle to a safe location for repair. A clutch safety switch may also be called a clutch sensor or a clutch switch.
Keep in mind:
- When the clutch safety switch fails, electronic components in the vehicle will work but the engine will not start.
- Clutch switches are usually not repairable and must be replaced.
- The clutch safety switch is supposed to remain open when the vehicle is not in use.
- Most failures occur in the open position.
How it’s done:
- The under dash panels are removed by the clutch pedal on left side of dash.
- The defective clutch safety switch is disconnected and the switch is removed from the bracket.
- The new clutch safety switch is installed and is adjusted to actuate the switch without bottoming out when clutch is pushed down.
- The electrical connector is connected to the new switch. The clutch safety switch is checked for proper operation.
- The shields under the left side of the dash are reinstalled. The vehicle is started in order to check the clutch safety switch for proper operation.
If you suspect there is an issue with the clutch safety switch, have one of our expert mechanics check it out right away. The vehicle isn’t safe to drive even if it starts. You may also place a heavy object in front of the tires to prevent the vehicle from moving if the engine engages while the transmission is in gear.
What common symptoms indicate you may need to replace the Clutch Safety Switch?
- Engine won’t start
- Engine starts when the clutch is released with the transmission in gear
- Cruise control won’t work
How important is this service?
A clutch that is not in working condition will cause the engine to start when the transmission is in gear. It will also allow the vehicle to move even without a driver, causing damage to the vehicle and other obstacles in its path. Have one of our expert mechanics inspect the part and replace it if necessary as soon as possible.