No, your car should NOT start in Drive.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 1995

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.

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