Clutch Safety Switch
If you try to start a vehicle with a manual transmission when it is in gear, most likely, you’ll fail to do that until the clutch pedal is depressed. This happens thanks to a safety device that is known as a clutch safety switch. Its job is to prevent the vehicle from lurching forward or backward when a gear is engaged. It is mounted on the clutch pedal assembly and cuts the ignition circuit if the clutch pedal is released.
A faulty clutch safety switch can cause a number of engine related problems. Here are the most common of them:
Inability to start the engine
If your clutch safety switch fails to power the ignition circuit when the clutch pedal is pushed down, the starter will crank the engine, but it won’t start.
You can start the engine when it is in any gear
Unlike the previous scenario, your clutch safety switch can get stuck, completing the ignition circuit even if the car is in gear. If so, you can run the risk of lurching forward or backward and damage the vehicle.
You have to press the clutch pedal several times to start the engine
This is a sign of a failing or malfunctioning clutch safety switch. It hasn’t failed completely and works intermittently, allowing you to start the engine occasionally.
Remote engine start doesn’t work
Most factory remote engine start systems are designed to start an engine when it is in neutral. If your remote start can’t start the engine, check whether your transmission is in gear. If so, put it in neutral and try to restart the engine. You may also need to first start it with a key. If you fail, your clutch safety switch can be the root of the problem.
How to fix a bad clutch safety switch
- A bad clutch safety switch is just one of the issues that can block engine operation. That’s why your clutch safety switch should be diagnosed to prevent unnecessary repairs.
- Dual-clutch gearboxes and automotive transmissions do not come with a clutch safety switch. If you can’t start a vehicle with such a transmission, you should look for another source of the problem.
- You can short a clutch safety switch to start the engine. However, it’s not the best solution as you can run the risk of starting the vehicle in gear.
- If you’re advised to short the safety switch to install an aftermarket alarm with remote start, it’s better to use a different system or consult with another mechanic.