My wife has a 1999 Mazda 626 that had the transmission rebuilt 5 or 6 years ago. Recently the car started having problems starting unless it was shifted in to neutral. I replaced the neutral safety switch/transmission range sensor on it. That solved the starting problem, but a new problem has surfaced following that repair.

Often, though not always, the car will start in 2nd, and won't shift past 3rd gear. If you come to a stop and shift the car into park or neutral, then back in to drive, it will fix the problem (sometimes it takes multiple tries to get the car shifting normally again). If the car starts up and shifts normally, or if it is returned to shifting normally via the neutral/park trick, it will stay that way and shift fine so long as we don't take it out of drive.

I checked for ODB2 codes, and nothing came up. I've suspected that the sensor I replaced could be faulty, but considering it was a $40+ part I would like to consider other options first.

  • It sounds as though one of your servos is failing. These are what control the bands in the transmission and allows it to shift into the different gears. There are usually two within 4-speed automatic transmissions. Depending on which combination of servos are engaged/disengaged will get the transmission into the correct gear. I'm not overly sure this is your issue, though, because in OBDII systems, there is usually a code thrown because of a failed servo. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 22:14
  • I've suspected something similar after doing some reading, which is why I checked the OBD codes. I suppose it could still be an issue even without the codes being thrown. I guess the only thing that makes me question this, is that the car did not experience any issues until I replaced the sensor. I suppose problems have to surface at some point though.
    – Evan
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 2:04
  • I do still have the old sensor, so I may swap that back in this weekend and see what happens. If the car only starts in neutral, but then never has any shifting issues, it leads me to think that maybe the new sensor I bought is faulty. I don't know enough about that part to know if it would even have an affect on this sort of functionality though.
    – Evan
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 2:11
  • Did you ever get anywhere with this? Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 10:49
  • @Evan have you been able to resolve this? If so, can you answer your question and award it to yourself? If not, where are you stuck in the troubleshooting process? Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 22:28

1 Answer 1


Given the sequence of events and lack of failure codes it is most likely that previously replaced neutral safety switch is either failed or improperly installed.

2nd gear only, can be transmission "limp in" mode but that will always have trouble codes set to go with it.

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