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Neutral Safety Switch?


Hope you all can help, as I’m at my wit’s end here.

Have had intermittent starting issues with ta 2004 Forester 2.5. When I turned the key, all the lights came on, but the starter wouldn’t fire. Just… nothing. Brian trust said neutral safety switch (which Subaru calls an Inhibitor Switch and Haynes calls a Transmission Range (TR) sensor). In the meantime, I got stranded, and the shop put in a new starter and battery (the battery was ready for replacement anyway… the starter… well, now it’s brand new).

So this weekend I replaced the Inhibitor switch and … still have the same, intermittent problem. Periodically, when I turn the key, all the indicator lights come on, but the starter doesn’t crank.

If I shift into neutral, it starts right up.

If I stick a foot out the door and rock the car back onto the transmission lock in Park, it starts right up.

So… what am I missing. This is making me nuts!


Did you put the transmission in neutral, and use an alignment tool when you installed the new switch?

Here’s the procedure.

Place the transmission in neutral.

Loosen the three switch mounting bolts.

Using a special tool, or a proper sized drill bit, rotate the switch until the tool/drill bit aligns the hole in the lever and the hole in the switch body.

Tighten the three bolts.



Old cars we get used to work arounds, at least you have a plan b that will get you going, might be some coca cola or similar causing a sticking problem at the shifter.

Indeed, I did do that, and all was aligned properly.

Another shop seems to think that the cable is out of adjustment - either that, and/or a bushing at the shifter, which is preventing the car from shifting completely into Park. This is consistent with what I’ve experienced, so I’m going to have them adjust the shift cable, because it’s just a big pain to get to.

On another topic : where did you get that picture?! It’s great - much better than the photos in the Haynes manual!__