No, your car should NOT start in Drive.

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1979 Toyota Corolla that starts in Park, Neutral, AND Drive. It was my understanding that cars are only supposed to star in Park or Neutral, not Drive. Is this something I should worry about? Or is it just a quirk with my car? The only problem it causes me is when I leave the car in Drive and take the key out, and then try to restart it without checking. I came close to hitting someone in front of me because of this.

TOM: This is something you SHOULD worry about, Mark. Especially since you're too absend minded to remember to put the car in Park when you shut off the engine.

RAY: The device that prevents the car from starting in Drive is called the neutral safety switch. When they fail, they fail in a way that prevents you from starting the car in ANY gear.

TOM: So my guess is the previous owner of this car had a problem with the neutral safety switch, and just had a mechanic by-pass it. That allowed the car to start again--in any gear. But as you've so ably demonstrated, that wasn't a very bright thing to do.

RAY: Take the car to your mechanic and have a new neutral safety switch installed, Mark. It won't cost you much. And if it keeps you from bashing into one mobster's Town Car, believe us, it'll be well worth it.
Tags (Browse All)

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login / Signup
Support for Car Talk is provided by:

Donate Your Car,
Support Your NPR Station

...and get a tax break!

Get Started

Find a Mechanic

Promo tile

Rocket Fuel