Coolerman's Clutch Interlock Bypass Switch
Overview - Installation - Testing - Conclusion

Coolerman is a member of the Mid Atlantic Xterra Club, an avid 4 wheeler, and knows more about electrical components than most of us.

His first product for the Xterra (and other Nissan vehicles based on the same chassis) is the Clutch Interlock Bypass Switch. This device allows you to start the Xterra, without the clutch pedal depressed. The benefit of this is when the Xterra is stalled on a hill, and you want to get moving again without rolling backwards. Usually you need to brake, clutch and accelerate, which is difficult with only 2 feet.

The Clutch Interlock Bypass Switch kit includes:

  • Relay and wiring harness
  • LED (color of your choice)
  • Switch

IMPORTANT: The CIBS is for 5-Speed Manual Transmissions only.

For more information about this product visit Coolermans Site


Installation can be done in an hour with adequate tools. Full instructions can be found on Coolermans CIBS Installation Page.


The CIBS kit comes in a small box, shipped USPS. Inside is a SASE for you to send a check or money order back to Coolerman if you keep the product. If you don't like it, simply send it all back to him.

On the right you can see the wiring harness, switch, LED and relay. The quality of the kit is outstanding, with excellent connections and shrink wrapping. Every connection is neatly labeled to ease installation.

The CIBS Kit

Steering wheel shroud removed

I chose to mount the switch and LED just forward of the ignition switch on the steering column. From there it's an easy poke with a finger to enable the bypass.

I removed 3 screws from the bottom side of the column, and the top half pops off. Inside is a large dead space with plenty of room for the relay and wiring.

Using a 1/2" and 5/16" drill, I made 2 holes in the upper steering column cover for the switch and LED. Push them through and that part of the installation is complete. Both pig tails are marked so you will be able to plug them into the correct connection later.

My mounting location

The existing switch the kit bypasses

Now it gets tricky, especially if you have large hands. The clutch pedal edge is sharp, and can cut your hands so be careful. In the image to the left you can see the Clutch Interlock Switch. This switch senses when the clutch pedal is pushed in, and allows the engine to be started. The wire pair that leads from the back of it needs to be found and traced to a point where you can cut the plastic sheath and get to the wires inside.

The image to the right is rotated 90 degrees CCW. You can see where I stripped back the plastic sheath and tapped into the brown and yellow wire with the 'T' connector.

Once it is attached, the wire lead labeled 'To Clutch Switch' is connected to it.

Find a suitable ground point, and screw the wire marked 'GROUND' to it.

The first wiring connection

Getting some power

The last step is to supply power to the relay. Find the power lead (it's marked) and use the fuse-tap included with the kit to attach the lead to a fuse in the fuse panel. Make sure the fuse used is only hot when the key is in the 'ON' position. Coolerman recommends the fuel pump fuse.

Find a good spot to mount the wire harness, and strap it into place with the tie wraps included with the kit. I got everything to fit in the steering column.

Attach the switch and LED connectors to the connectors on the harness (marked as well), and the installation is complete.

The finished installation
Testing has been ongoing since I installed the CIBS before heading to goneMOAB in March 2002.

How does it work ?

It kicks ass.
The next time you stall on an incline, and want to continue moving uphill, without that creep backwards while moving from brake to throttle, just turn on the CIBS. When it's engaged, the clutch no longer has to be held in, and you can start in gear, with your foot on the brake. Once the starter starts moving the vehicle, let off the brake and let it pull you along until the engine fires, then it's back to driving as normal.

I have tested the CIBS on inclines as steep as 40 degrees, which is about the limit of what the Nissan starter motor is capable of pulling. Anything steeper and you may have to resort to the old way. It works flawlessly. Push the button and the LED lights, letting you know it is engaged. Turn the key and drive away.

Once engaged, the system stays engaged until you turn off the ignition with the key. For this reason I chose the dimmest LED Coolerman offered. I tested a blinking LED but it was very distracting. If you stall again (say, on the same hill), the system is still engaged and ready to go again.

IMPORTANT: The only drawback I found is actually with the Xterra itself. If you stall and use the CIBS several times in a row, you risk the chance of the brake booster losing pressure, and the brakes being almost worthless. This could cause an unexpected roll back down the hill. If this is the case, simply start the Xterra with the clutch in, and let the booster build pressure before stopping the engine, then using the CIBS to get going again.


For $35-40 (depending on switch and LED options), the CIBS is an excellent product if you drive off-road a lot, and an even better deal if you stall a lot. The installation was easy and the CIBS stays out of your way, unnoticed, until you need it.

  Review by xoc April 2, 2002

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Copyright 2002