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

asked by on September 19, 2016

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.

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