Neutral Light Always On (Easy fix!)

A constantly on neutral light is a pain in the ass. I understand exactly what it’s like. Sooo frustrating, but not to worry, this post will have you in the right gear.

The top 2 reasons an ATV or Motorbike neutral light stays on include:

  1. Ground wire fault
  2. Faulty or sticking neutral switch

By the end of this short post, you’ll understand why your neutral warning light stays on, how to diagnose it and how to fix it.

What’s It For?

A neutral warning light was designed initially to help the rider find neutral when pulling to a stop.

Today, some bikes use the neutral switch as part of the safety starting system. The bike must be in neutral with the light illuminated before the engine was permitted to crank.

It’s a simple and effective way to prevent unintended in gear starts. Not all bikes use the neutral switch in the same way. Your bike could instead use a safety switch fitted to the clutch lever to prevent unintended in-gear starts.

Whichever safety system your bike has, the neutral switches themselves all work pretty similarly.

How It Works

The neutral safety switch is a simple on-off switch that’s fitted to the transmission. The most common type is the electro/mechanical ball switch.

The shift lever acts on the ball sensor and completes a ground path to the transmission casing through the body of the switch itself, but only when neutral is selected.

The components of the system include:

  • Power supply to dash neutral warning light
  • Dash mounted warning light with replaceable bulb
  • Ground supply to dash mounted warning light
  • Transmission mounted neutral switch providing a ground path for the neutral dash warning light

Ground Wire Fault

The most common cause of a neutral light staying on is a short to ground. A short to ground is where the wiring simply rubs off an engine or chassis component, providing a shorter path for ground. The result is the dash light illuminates and remains on, no matter what gear you’re in.

How to find it and fix it? If you have done any work recently on the bike, check that area first.

  1. Your neutral switch will be mounted at the transmission, google your make and model to locate.
  2. Remove the wire from the switch and check dash bulb (if already disconnected, see short to ground below).

If it’s still illuminated, you have a short to ground (see below).

If the neutral light does go out, go ahead and replace the neutral switch, it isn’t very accurate.

Find short to ground

Follow the single wire from the switch (or it may be detached and grounding) backward to the dash-mounted light. Somewhere along the way, the wiring is rubbing off the chassis or another ground wire.

It’s not uncommon to pinch the ground wire when working on other components. Pinching the wire will cause it to ground.

Stuck Switch

As the switches are mechanical, they wear out, and before they stop working altogether, they stick. Depending on how your switch works, removing them and freeing them with a little tap of a plastic screwdriver handle will solve the issue short term, but the permanent solution is a replacement.

You may find the following posts useful:

Will dirt bike start without a kill switch?

Start a flooded bike?

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John Cunningham

John Cunningham is a certified mechanic and writer on I’ve been a mechanic for over twenty-five years, I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of ATV ownership, from maintenance & repair to troubleshooting.

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