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What are the symptoms of a bad transmission solenoid?

bad transmission solenoid

Your transmission solenoid is a key part of your transmission – this solenoid is an electro-hydraulic valve that is in charge of controlling the amount of fluid flowing into and out of the automatic transmission in your vehicle. The solenoids can either be normally open or closed, depending on the control of the fluid. The solenoid operates via a voltage or a current that is supplied by the transmission computer or the electronic control module. The transmission solenoids are usually located within the valve body, the transmission control unit, or the transmission control module.

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The transmission control unit is a device that controls the automatic transmission, and can use sensors to calculate the inner workings of each electrical part in your vehicle. If your transmission is not working correctly and you are having trouble with the performance of your vehicle, this can usually be attributed to the symptoms of a bad transmission solenoid. 

Transmission Solenoid Function 


While manual transmission sand cars use a clutch to change the gears, the automatic transmission systems rely on a hydraulic system that is in charge of shifting. The transmission solenoid is very important for this process and plays a huge role in the smooth shifting and performance of your vehicle. 


First, transmission fluid is directed through the valves by various transmission solenoids, like the shift solenoid, lockup solenoid, or the transmission control solenoid. These transmission solenoids are in charge of opening or closing hydraulic valves to regulate the flow of fluid in the system. In addition, speed sensors located near the engine are responsible for turning on and activating the transmission solenoids. 


As you can see, the transmission solenoid is a key part of the functioning transmission that keeps your car running smoothly. If you start noticing the symptoms of a bad transmission control solenoid, then this can mean serious problems for your transmission and the performance of your engine. 


In an automatic transmission car, the transmission relies on various bands and clutches to change gears smoothly and on time, and the only way that this can be done is by the correct amount of fluid pressure within the shifting system. The transmission solenoid is the part in charge of opening and closing the valves in the body to allow for either more, or prevent, the fluid from entering. At this point, the fluid can pressurize the clutches and bands to change gears quickly.


Transmission solenoids consist of a spring loaded plunger that communicates with the car’s engine sensors or the transmission control module via electronic signals. The transmission solenoids and the sensors determine when it is the correct time to shift gears, depending on the vehicle and the engine speed. 


If the transmission solenoid is working correctly and is energized, the mechanical plunger allows the right amount of fluid to pass through, while the transmission solenoid is not receiving power in its closed position. While the various engine sensors determine when the gears are supposed to shift, the job of the transmission solenoid is to carry out the actual shifting mechanism. If you notice the symptoms of a bad transmission solenoid, you will not be able to shift gears correctly. 

Bad Transmission Solenoid Warning Signs


If your automatic transmission is not performing correctly and your car is not performing well, then this could be a clear sign to both you and your passengers that your tranmission’s solenoid is failing or has previously failed. A bad transmission solenoid can negatively affect many components of your automatic transmission.


Transmission solenoids are electro-hydraulic valves that control the flow of the transmission fluid through the transmission in the car, and they open and close due to the electrical signals that they gain from the vehicle or the transmission control unit, which gains data from various speed sensors located within the engine.


Since a clutch controls the gear shifting in the manual transmission of a car, the transmission solenoid is in control of the transmission within the automatic car, performing the same task. Furthermore, the transmission system in your automatic car has different kinds of solenoids – shift solenoids, lockup solenoids, and the transmission control solenoids. 


There are many causes and reasons as to why your transmission solenoids could have failed and caused various symptoms of a bad transmission solenoid. When the transmission control unit sends signs and information to the transmission solenoids to shift either up or down, these values have to open or close to allow and restrict the flow of the transmission fluid. The fluid in the transmission is in charge of pressurizing the transmission system and allowing your car to change gears smoothly. 

Driving symptoms


Your car’s transmission relies upon the positions and the locations of various transmission solenoids to control the gears and keep your car moving smoothly. If you notice the symptoms of a bad transmission solenoid, you might lose the ability to use multiple gears in your vehicle, and one gear might become particularly stuck, or the gear might not be able to move at all. 


Make sure you know the difference between a slipping transmission and a transmission solenoid problem. You will be able to tell the difference when you try to shift -when you have a slipping transmission, the shifting can actually occur, but produce very little power. However, with a bad transmission solenoid, the solenoid can prevent the shifting from even happening in the first place. 


The main driving symptoms that you will notice with the symptoms of a bad transmission control solenoid is that there could be delayed gear shifting, you can’t downshift and your engine will continue to rev, your transmission will be stuck in the neutral position, and the shifting of gears becomes very rough and choppy. 

Associated Systems 


Most modern cars have some type of transmission control module that is in charge of monitoring the transmission through various sensors, like the shift-position sensor and the transmission speed sensor. Furthermore, the transmission control module and the solenoid wiring are protected by various fuels, so if there is a failure or damage to one of the fuses or the wires, this can cause the symptoms of a bad transmission solenoid

Limp Mode


The transmission control module isn't your vehicle is in charge of noticing any failure within the systems that it monitors. Any failure that it detects, ranging in severity from a broken or damaged solenoid to a blown fuse, will trigger and spur the limp mode to prevent any further engine damage or any further damage to the transmission. Even when the limp mode is activated, the car can still somewhat work, allowing the driver to travel in a limited capacity. 


Generally, the limp mode will affect the bad transmission solenoid. It allows your car to go into second gear and remain there. This can lead to a slow feeling when you first start driving, preventing full acceleration, and making the engine RPMs be much higher than usual in order to go the same speed. Make sure you do not drive with your car in limp mode for too long, as this can cause various symptoms of a bad transmission control solenoid. 

Diagnostic Trouble Codes


Once the transmission control module notices an issue within one of the monitored systems, it can turn on a diagnostic trouble code that can be diagnosed properly by using a scan tool that makes sense for your car’s specific make, model, and year. The trouble codes for the main transmission components that show the symptoms of a bad transmission control solenoid begin at P0700, and the codes for the solenoid range from P0751 to P0758. In addition, there are speed sensor codes that run until P0503. 

Transmission Solenoid Replacement and Cost


If you have realized that when scanning your vehicle’s computer with your diagnostic tool that there is a problem with the transmission, or you have noticed the symptoms of a bad transmission control solenoid, then you might have realized a transmission solenoid replacement is necessary for your car. 


Oftentimes, replacing a transmission solenoid is a pretty simple task that won’t take very long compared to more extensive and expensive repairs and replacements. If you bring your car to a mechanic’s auto body shop, the whole process should not take any more than 2 hours. Repair shops on average charge around $60 to $100 per hour for labor, so it should not cost you more than $200-$250 for the labor cost of the solenoid.


However, the costs can vary depending on what kind of car you have – like the make, model, and year of the vehicle. Some transmission solenoids can only be replaced properly by removing the valve body, which can take more time and enhance the overall labor cost of the procedure. 


A replacement transmission solenoid is approximately between $15 and $100 for the parts alone, with the labor average going upwards of around $300 total. If you just need the transmission front seal replaced in order to remedy the symptoms of a bad transmission solenoid, then you should expect to pay between $00 and $1,000 to change the transmission front seal. 


If you need to replace the valve body to fix the symptoms of a bad transmission solenoid, then it is best to change the entire valve body, since transmission gears operate on hydraulic pressure. The valve body assembly will be around $200 to $500, while the labor costs for this procedure will be around $500 or so. It will be at least $1,000 on the low end to get your car back running smoothly.


If you need to replace the transmission mount in your car, then this could help remedy the signs and symptoms of a bad transmission solenoid. The parts itself is usually around $50 to $200, and the labor is about the same price, costing about $400 on average to replace the mount cost. 


The transmission solenoid replacement cost usually depends on the type of transmission, with the solenoid often placed inside of the pan with the oil connected to the valve body. Single transmission solenoid replacement costs around $15 to $100, while the replacement of the pack can cost about $50 to $300. 


The TS replacement type depends on the replacement cost. The single replacement type is between $15 and $100, while the pack is between $50 and $300, the labor being between $120 and $400, and the total pack for the replacement is between $250 and $600. 

When do I need the transmission solenoid replacement? 


If you notice the signs and symptoms of a bad transmission solenoid, a replacement is your best bet. The signs of a transmission solenoid problem is the transmission not being able to downshift. It is impossible to downshift in your car if the transmission solenoid is stuck. This means that the fluid won't fill the valve and the power gets too low, with the car being unable to gain the pressure to properly shift the gear. 


In addition, the car might have erratic shifting. If there is a problem with the transmission solenoid and you notice the symptoms of a bad transmission solenoid, then the gear box might skip and the car might shift up and down repeatedly. In worse cases, the shifting could even get completely stuck. 


Lastly, if you notice a severe shifting delay, then this can be a clear sign and symptoms of the bad transmission solenoid. The fluid pressure makes it available for the car’s internal computer, the engine control unit, to shift gears in the correct way and on time. If the wire wrapping on the plumber gets too much electrical current or too little electrical current, or the transition is very dirty, it can cause the transmission solenoid to get stuck. This can cause the gear shifting to become difficult or unstable and could cause the transmission to be stuck in neutral. 


Now that you know the symptoms of a bad transmission control solenoid, you can easier figure out the root cause of the problems, the ways to fix the immediate issue, and how to keep your car running smoothly and safely for years to come. 

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