Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Car will not start intermittently while in PARK but always starts on NEUTRAL.

asked by on

I will give a brief chronology of my problems over the last 6 weeks and hopefully I can get a recommendation on what to do next.

  1. On August 1, car will not start on PARK, all lights on but no cranking. AAA came checked out battery fine.
  2. Later car started on PARK. I dropped off the car at Pep Boys
  3. Pep Boys checked it out and decided I needed a new starter. Starter replaced.
  4. Drove car for a couple of days and same problems with starting on PARK. Towed car to Pep Boys but problem could not be duplicated.
  5. Drove car a couple of days and same problems with starting on PARK. Towed car to another repair shop close by but problem could not be duplicated.
  6. Kept having the same intermittent start problem as 4 and 5 above and car was parked in a Parking Garage and when tow truck came to tow, height did not allow access. Tow driver went in and moved gear to NEUTRAL and it started.
  7. Concluded that Parking Neutral (PN) Switch was the problem. I took car back to Pep BOys

My car has 210000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Hi there, thank you for writing in and providing a detailed description. I’d be happy to give my insight on what to do next.

I would make the same conclusion about the neutral safety switch. I think Pep Boys made the right call. I admit, I don’t like to call a part bad without being able to duplicate the problem, but anytime a customer states their car starts in neutral but not park, we replace the neutral safety switch. I can’t recall a time that this move was wrong.

The intermittent nature of your problem does’t change this diagnosis either. The same electrical connection can work one moment and not the next. Electricity works at the atomic level that we as humans can’t directly observe, which is why we have tools to do electrical testing. Your tow truck driver got it correct.

Hope this helps and best of luck! If you’d like help replacing your neutral safety switch, consider having one of our expert automotive technicians come to your home or office to do it for you.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!
  • Home
  • Questions
  • Car will not start intermittently while in PARK but always starts on NEUTRAL.

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: I have a 2007 Nissan Murano. Sometimes, when I am driving my car. The AWD Locked light comes on, at about 40-50 mph.

Hello, thank you for writing in. The vehicle may be engaging the abs due to a sensor or electrical issue causing the vibrations. The quickest way to determine why the ABS warning light has illuminated is to scan the vehicle...

Q: Low RPM/ Won't Shift

Hello and thank you for contacting YourMechanic. It seems like the IAC (idle air control) valve is malfunctioning. Check the wiring to the IAC for any debris and any corrosion. If the wiring harness is in good shape, then I...

Q: Trouble shoot break down when my engine starts back up after 30 minutes or more.

Hi there. If you are having an issue with your vehicle shutting off and not restarting up until 30 minutes or more, then there could be an issue with the security system, battery, or an electrical short. Check to see...

Related articles

How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
P2103 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle Actuator Control Motor Circuit High
P2103 means there is a fault with the throttle actuator control motor circuit, likely due to a defective electrical component or part.