Suzuki Samurai/Sidekick/Tracker 1986-1998 Repair Guide

Reverse Light Switch



See Figure 1

For Suzuki vehicles, the manual transmission reverse light switch is usually threaded into the side or top of the transmission housing. The switch will almost always be found on the upper left side of the transmission case, just behind the bell housing. Do not confuse the switch with the 4WD switch which is usually mounted further back, on top of the transfer case (which is integral with the transmission on all but Samurai models).

Before attempting replacement, check the position of the switch, relative to the position of the transmission filler plug. If it is located higher on the transmission case then the plug, you should be able to replace the switch without losing any transmission gear oil. But if the switch is equal to or lower of the case than the plug, you should have a drain pan handy to catch any escaping fluid. In this second case, you should still be able to replace the switch without having to completely drain the fluid. The trick is to have the replacement in one hand while you unthread the old switch. Once the old switch is loose, quickly withdraw it while positioning and threading the replacement in its place. If done correctly, a minimum amount of gear oil will escape.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 1: The reverse light switch is threaded into the top or side of the transmission housing-this Sidekick/Tracker has the switch on the upper left side, just behind the bell housing

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable for safety.
  3. Raise the hood and check to see if access is possible from underhood or if you will need to raise and support the vehicle for access. On most late-model Sidekick, Tracker or X-90 models, access from underhood is possible, but it is a bit of a reach.
  5. If necessary for better access, block the rear wheels, then raise and support the front of the vehicle safely using jackstands.
  7. Disenage the switch wiring connector.

Most Suzuki models utilize a switch whose pigtail is permanently attached to the base of the switch. On these models, follow the switch wiring back through the rubberized-plastic coated metal wiring clips to locate the harness connector. Carefully release the lock-tab and disconnect the wiring.

  1. Clean the area around the switch to help prevent dirt from falling into the transmission as the switch is removed.
  3. If you have decided that the switch is mounted low enough to warrant a drain pan, position it beneath the transmission.
  5. Using a wrench or a suitable sensor socket (either flare-end or a deep socket with cut-outs to accommodate the switch wiring), carefully loosen and remove the switch from the transmission housing.

To install:
  1. If you are reinstalling the original switch, check for an O-ring or for sealant on the threads. Replace a worn O-ring or re-coat the threads with sealant, as applicable. If you are installing a new switch, check that it is of the same design as the original. For instance, if the original used an O-ring and the replacement does not have one, either you have the wrong switch or the replacement was designed to use a bit of sealant on the threads.

DO NOT overtighten the switch, you could damage the switch or the aluminum transmission housing.


See Figures 2, 3 and 4

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 2: With the transmission shifter in Reverse, check for continuity across the switch's 2 wiring terminals

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 3: On late-model vehicles, a harness connector is located behind the intake that you can use for testing ...

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 4: ... at this connector the reverse light circuit is checked between terminals 3 and 4

If the reverse lights stop working, and a voltage check shows NO POWER to the reverse light sockets when the transmission shift lever is in reverse, check the switch for proper continuity using an ohmmeter. The test can either be conducted directly across the 2 terminals on the switch wiring connector, or for Sidekick, Tracker and X-90 models, it can also be checked underhood using the harness connector at the back of the intake manifold. If the second option is taken, release the wiring from the clamp at the back of the manifold, separate the wiring and check for at terminals 3 and 4 (at one end of the 6 terminal connector).

The switch should test continuous ONLY when the transmission shift lever is in Reverse.