Salvaging the Inhibitor Switch on an Auto Trans Mitsu SUV
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By: Jay Ayala, 12/30/03

No Start Automatic? Could be your inhibitor switch!

The Mitsubishi automatic transmission relies on an inhibitor switch to ensure that the engine will only start when the gear selector lever is in the N or the P position. This is for obvious safety reasons, and is standard on all modern automatics. As Jay Ayala found out, however, sometimes a "no-start" situation on an auto Montero can be traced to this safety feature. Jay takes us through salvaging this switch on his GenI Montero. Other models may be similar. Ed.

To Begin...

I took the center console out, easy enough just a matter of removing a few screws and bolts. It pulled right out. First thing I had to do was find the inhibitor switch. Pretty easy.

The next step I took was to assess the damage. You may not be able to tell from these Photos, but the inside was caked with dirty grease. As a matter of fact, the switches movement back and fourth was gritty!

Image courtesy of Jay Ayala Image courtesy of Jay Ayala Image courtesy of Jay Ayala
Finding the pesky switch under the center console Here is the switch after removal This closeup shows the accumulated grit

I made a decision to clean it and test it seeing as how it wouldn't involve much work. I had an ingenious idea. Q-Tips!! They absorb just about anything, but they tend to shed cotton some times. So, I carefully cleansed the gritty grime away. There was quite a small amount of it. But when we are talking about something as small as this, it was pretty significant.

A final inspection shows much cleaner contact points

Image courtesy of Jay Ayala Image courtesy of Jay Ayala Image courtesy of Jay Ayala Image courtesy of Jay Ayala
Cleaning the switch with a Q-tip seems to work well This dirt was the cause of the switch problem The switch might be more functional now that its cleaned up You can clearly see the clean contacts now, which were previously covered

I re-bolted it in its spot which involve two elliptical holes and I pushed the switch as far forward as I could then tightened the bolts. Then I tested it by putting it in Park so that it is in its normal operating position, and trying to turn the key. The Raider started just fine. Now for the real test: I pushed the lever forward as far as it would go past park, not very much play, but I pushed it anyway. I turned the key and to my surprise it fired right up. I was under the assumption that it was a bad switch. But it turns out that it was just dirty. Total time it took me including grabbing my camera, q-tips and running back and fourth for screw-drivers and taking a quick phone call was less then 20 minutes. As a matter of fact, it's taking me more time to organize my thoughts and posting this than it took me to SALVAGE MY INHIBITOR SWITCH! LOL!

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