Jeep Cherokee Neutral Safety Switch: Location & Replacement

Have you ever wondered why your four-wheeler doesn’t launch forward unexpectedly when you start the engine? I mean, you must have had this experience beforehand while riding a motorbike, right? But why not in the case of your car?

Well, it’s the neutral safety switch – one of the smartest and handy safety devices that all the four-wheelers have. The introduction of neutral safety features on manual transmissions was assigned by the SFI Foundation in the early 1980s. Since then, it has been a commonplace for all vehicles.

Similarly, your Jeep Cherokee, regardless of its build year, has it equipped to its transmission for a hassle-free ride. And tell you what, there is a lot to know about Jeep Cherokee’s neutral safety switch. Because with time, it DOES wear out and needs replacement.

So, let’s find out some of the necessary information about your Jeep Cherokee’s neutral safety switch. Because you never know when yours will play up! (Or is it already?)

What does a neutral safety switch do on a Jeep Cherokee?

The neutral safety switch works to ensure safety for your transmission. The device makes sure your Jeep Cherokee’s engine is disengaged when the vehicle is in an inaccurate state. That is when, you need to put the vehicle in either park or neutral mode for ignition.  

So, what would happen if there were no neutral safety switch in operation?

Well, you would feel a strong jerk with that abrupt thrust from your engine as soon as you started it. On top of that, handling the car would become far harder than it is now. And most probably it would do great damage to your gearbox every time you start like that.

In short, the duty of the neutral safety switch is to avert your Jeep Cherokee from starting while the gears are on. It prevents damage to the vehicle and ensures a safe ignition. You can say it’s sort of a pre-drive check.

Where is the neutral safety switch located on a Jeep Cherokee?

The safety switch is a common device in every manual transmission vehicle. Your Jeep Cherokee is no exception. You can locate it on the passenger side of the transmission. Almost all versions of Jeep Cherokee feature the safety switch in that area.

To access the neutral safety switch, you may need to use jack stands. But using an elevated platform will give you better clearance. However, you can unmount the neutral safety switch by using two screwdrivers. It’s usually hooked up to the transmission shaft by a nut. 

So, you need to conquer the undercarriage of your vehicle in the first place. Once accessed, you will notice the neutral safety switch mounted at the transmission chassis, and the rest is about time and your expertise.

How do you know if the neutral safety switch is bad on a Jeep Cherokee?

People tend to take the neutral safety switch as an overlooked part of their vehicles. But your vehicle is greatly dependent on this component. When the neutral safety switch malfunctions, your day probably ends there.

However, a broken neutral safety switch may still let you ignite the engine. And that’s what should be the reason for knitting eyebrows. Because you are probably sailing close to the wind with a faulty neutral safety switch. So, an incident is likely to take place at any moment.

You can identify a malfunctioning neutral safety switch by four common symptoms. Check them out below.

1. No Crank When the Vehicle is in Park

When you have set the gear in the park but the engine is not starting up as you keep turning the key for ignition, then it is probably your neutral safety switch that needs to be examined. However, this problem can also occur from a bad battery or starter motor.

So, you may want to check the wiring too. Nonetheless, if it continuously happens even when the manual transmission is in neutral mode and the clutch pedal is engaged, then it’s likely that you need to replace the neutral safety switch.

2. No Crank in Neutral Mode but Crank in Park

Lack of crank in neutral mode is a great indication that your Jeep Cherokee’s neutral safety switch is doomed. You need to visit a professional to get back your vehicle to life again. However, you may also pluck up the courage to replace it on your own!

3. No Crank at All

If you find your engine is not cracking at all, then you need to… wait a minute. It’s not your neutral safety switch who is the culprit. Rather, the electrical line is not providing power to the device. As a result, the starter relay is not getting the signal to start the vehicle.

So, you might get through it this time by simply checking your wiring and doing some tape. Well, if you are not aware of the wires, then it’s better to leave it for the mechanic and avoid bigger trouble (PS: l trust you dude, don’t misunderstand me!)

4. Cranks in Any Gear

Snap! You are in the worst-case scenario. And both probability and possibility are too high for a broken neutral safety switch. The job of a neutral safety switch is to prevent the vehicle from cranking up with gear.

But if you still manage to start it up when the gear is on, then take it for granted that the device has an internal short-circuit. Therefore, it needs to be replaced immediately to avoid any sort of accident or major injuries – for both vehicle and yourself.

Can you drive with a bad neutral safety switch?

You can still get along with a bad neutral safety switch. But in no circumstances it is recommended to drive with a faulty device of such significance. You will experience poor performance in your vehicle. Finding it difficult to drive away from a traffic signal is also very likely.

Besides, you may counter periodical vibration in the transmission area when a bad neutral safety switch is in operation. And don’t be taken by surprise if you don’t find your Jeep Cherokee right where you left it in parking. Because, if the neutral safety switch is bad, your vehicle could roll down the alley by itself. (Run!)

How much does it cost to replace the neutral safety switch?

The price of the neutral safety switch for Jeep Cherokee 1997-2001 is about $80. However, it’s subjective to manufacturers and the model of Jeep Cherokee you are looking for.

If you can replace it by yourself (I believe you can, since it’s not that hard and you can sort it out from YouTube), then the replacement cost will come down and you’ll be able to save some bucks. But if you pull over a mechanic shop, then it depends on your deal-cutting skills.

How to replace the neutral safety switch Jeep Cherokee?

Replacing the neutral safety switch could be a tricky job. However, it’s not impossible.

Here is the step-by-step procedure to replace the neutral safety switch of your Jeep Cherokee.

Step 1: Access the transmission pan of the vehicle.

Step 2: Remove dirt from the nut of the neutral safety switch.

Step 3: The nut is the key here. Loosen it up using a range. You may apply heat if it’s stuck too firmly.

Step 4: Once the nut comes off, you are ready to pull the switch off.

Step 5: You can use a jaw puller to pull the switch off. If that’s not available, use two screwdrivers to evenly put pressure on the switch against the transmission housing.

Step 6: By far, the switch should come off halfway through. You should work in a circular motion and tap the output shaft with a hammer for better results.

Step 7: Once the switch comes out, unplug the relay end and take off the faulty switch.

Step 8: Now, it’s time to replace it with a new one. Put it in place and tighten up the nut with the shaft. Plug the relay end. And voila! Your Jeep Cherokee is going to roll down the highway once again!

However, it’s easier said than done. So, be patient and keep your head cool while doing the operation. You’ll surely succeed.

Final Thought

Moving with a faulty neutral safety switch is really dangerous. It can bring misfortune at any moment. Besides, the more you are driving with a bad neutral safety switch, the more you are damaging the transmission as well as the engine of your Jeep Cherokee.

So, it’s wise to replace the device as soon as possible and avoid serious accidents. 

Don’t try to mess it up if you are not familiar with the technical stuff. If you are sure that it’s the neutral safety switch that’s causing the problem, just make a quick visit to your nearest mechanic shop. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to be replaced by a professional.

However, whether you replace it by yourself or not, with the write-up being read, now you know the necessary information related to your Jeep Cherokee’s neutral safety switch. And we hope it has helped you to sort out a thing or two.

Always wear your seatbelt and stay safe. Happy Driving!

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