ATV Neutral Light Always On? Anyone can fix it!


The ATV neutral light is a small mechanism that can produce many problems if it does not work properly. Fortunately, diagnosing and solving a faulty neutral light is both easy and inexpensive.

ATV neutral light always on indicates a ground wire issue that needs to be fixed ASAP. The neutral light always on can also be caused by a badly weird gear position indicator and a stuck switch. These are all electrical issues that can be fixed without any special tools.

If you want to learn how to diagnose the issue your ATV neutral light has, then keep on reading for my simple step by step guide. Stay tuned to learn how to bypass the neutral safety switch to start the ATV in an emergency.

What Does ATV Neutral Light Always On Mean?

Honda Rancher ATV with Neutral Light On

The neutral light on an ATV plays a critical role in ensuring the safety and functionality of the four-wheeler. When functioning correctly, this light indicates that the ATV is in “Neutral” mode. However, if this light remains on continuously, even when the ATV is in gear, it hints that there’s a problem you need to fix. Generally, the main culprit behind this issue is a shorted ground wire. This happens when the wire coming from the neutral switch rubs against another component, causing an uninterrupted current flow.

On the bright side of things, troubleshooting a faulty ground wire is easy and this makes fixing ATV neutral light always a piece of cake. The way you diagnose if the issue is caused by the wire is by disconnecting the ignitor switch connector. If the light remains on, it indicates the wire is drawing power from an unintended source, necessitating a closer inspection to locate the short. Remember, the color of the ground wire might differ based on your ATV’s make, so consulting the service manual can offer valuable guidance.

Alternatively, the problem might stem from a faulty neutral switch or even the gear position indicator’s wiring. To diagnose this, once you’ve reconnected the ignition switch connector, a gentle tap on the neutral switch will give you the answer you are looking for. If the light switches off after the tap, the switch might have been stuck initially.

Pro Tip: It’s essential not only to rely on visual cues but also to use the ATV’s service manual. This manual can offer invaluable insights into troubleshooting specific issues, guiding you to the exact location of critical components for your ATV model. If you are interested to learn more about ATV wiring, you should check out my article that explains how ATV kill switches work.

What to Do When Neutral Light Will Not Come On

When the neutral light on your ATV doesn’t illuminate while in “Neutral” mode, it’s not just an inconvenience—it’s a sign of an underlying issue that demands attention. So, if you are stuck asking yourself “why won’t my neutral light come on”, then you don’t need to worry because I am here to help. Here is how you can fix the problem and make the neutral light:

Firstly, inspect the most straightforward potential cause: wiring. There’s a possibility that the wires connected to your neutral switch might be disconnected, corroded, or damaged. Make sure they are intact and have a good connection. If you notice similar behavior with your reverse light, there’s a chance that the gear position indicator’s wires might be the culprit. Always ensure they are free from visible damage and securely connected.

The neutral light bulb itself is another component that can fail. Over time, bulbs can burn out or become faulty. Replacing it is relatively simple and can often resolve the issue. However, before investing in a new bulb, it’s wise to check if the current one is still functional.

If the wiring and bulb appear to be in good condition, the neutral switch might be the problem. A malfunctioning or stuck switch might not be sending the signal to illuminate the light. In this case, gently tapping the switch might unstick it. If this doesn’t help, you may need to test its functionality more thoroughly or consider a replacement.

Hopefully, one of these easy fixes solves your issue. However, if your neutral light still does not come on, then you are likely looking at a problem with your neutral switch. Here is how you can test this part to determine if you need to change it or not:

How Do You Test and Fix an ATV Neutral Switch?

The neutral switch on your ATV plays a pivotal role in indicating whether the vehicle is in “Neutral.” If you suspect this switch is malfunctioning, it’s crucial to test and address it properly to ensure safety and functionality.

Testing the ATV Neutral Switch:

  1. Use a Multimeter: Equip yourself with a multimeter, preferably one with a continuity setting. Set it to ohms if continuity isn’t an option.
  2. Check for Continuity: Connect one lead of the multimeter to the metal part of the neutral switch and the other to the engine case. If the multimeter beeps (or shows a reading close to zero if set to ohms), it signifies continuity, indicating the neutral switch is functioning as it should when in “Neutral.”
  3. Test in Gear Mode: Shift your ATV into gear. Using the multimeter leads, retest the neutral switch and engine case connection. This time, there shouldn’t be any continuity (or the reading should be infinite). If there is, it’s a sign the switch might be defective and is incorrectly signaling that the ATV is still in “Neutral.”

Fixing the ATV Neutral Switch:

  1. Adjustment: Sometimes, a neutral switch can become misaligned. Refer to your ATV’s service manual for guidance on adjusting its position.
  2. Cleaning: Over time, dirt and debris can interfere with the neutral switch’s operation. Cleaning it might restore its functionality.
  3. Replacement: If tests indicate the switch is faulty and cleaning or adjusting doesn’t rectify the issue, consider replacing it. Ensure you purchase a switch compatible with your ATV model.

Lastly, while you can address minor issues yourself, if you’re ever uncertain or uncomfortable with the process, seeking the expertise of a professional mechanic is advisable. They’ll have the experience and tools to diagnose and fix any underlying problems efficiently.

How to Bypass Neutral Safety Switch on ATV

In case you have no neutral light and need to do an emergency start on your ATV, then it is useful to learn how to bypass the neutral safety switch. The solution is simple: you need to find the ground wire in your neutral switch and short it to give it current. You are essentially replicating the first scenario we discussed, where the neutral light is always on.

For this temporary fix, I recommend you find the ground wire and splice it up. Tie up the exposed wire with another piece of wire to produce a short and make the light turn on. Once you get home or to a mechanic’s shop, you can remove the surplus wire and use tape to cover up the ground wire.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are dealing with an ATV neutral light always or your neutral light will not come on, these two issues can be fixed with the right knowledge and tools. Fixing the neutral light problem needs to be a priority because it concerns the both safety of the rider and the performance of the ATV. However, you should always consult with your ATV’s service manual for guidance or consider professional assistance if you are not comfortable working with wires.

Bob Kelly

Hey there, my name is Bob and I've been riding ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs for most of my life. Going on outdoor adventures has always been my passion. I love sharing tips and tricks with beginners who are getting ready to join the world of outdoor enthusiasts. You can reach me at bobtheatvguy@gmail.com if you want to get in touch.

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