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Can A Bad Sensor Cause Transmission Problems? -Here’s What You Need To Know

Can A Bad Sensor Cause Transmission Problems

There are various sensors located within the transmission – and any one of these sensors can lead to transmission problems in your car. A failing speed sensor will directly impact the transmission operation, leading to delayed shifting and limited gear choices, while numerous other sensors can have similar detrimental effects.

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By trying to answer the question of “Can a bad sensor cause transmission problems?”, you can determine what warning signs and symptoms to look out for you in your car according to the specific sensor’s problems.

Transmission sensors

There are various transmission sensors in your car, all with different functions and purposes. All of these sensors work together to read data, analyze the data, and then use this data to determine their next move to keep your car running safely and healthily. Transmission sensors work together to keep the transmisiosn working correctly, reduce any problems, and pevent the sensor from causing transmission probelms. 


These sensors work as a team to help your transmission function at an optimal level. The transmission function is transferring the power from the engine to the driveshaft and the rear wheels or the axle half-shafts. The gears inside the transmission change according to the car’s speed and change the torque based on the engine’s speed and current torque. 


In order to know if the bad sensor can cause transmission problems, then you need to know the different types of transmission control module sensors in your vehicle. 


  • Throttle position sensor



One of the sensors that constantly sends signals to the transmission control module is the throttle position sensor. This sensor provides an important data source, with the data coming directly from the throttle position in the vehicle. If the throttle sensor cannot send the proper location, then the throttle position sensor functions to figure out how you know if your transmission control module is bad. 


The signal from the throttle position sensor alerts the module as to how much load is placed on the engine at once, or how much stress the engine is under at one time. This information can help the transmission control module figure out if the car’s position requires it to upshift or downshift at a specific time. The TCM can also analyze this data, and then compare this information to the vehicle sensor speed data, to figure out which shift is most appropriate. If your vehicle is having trouble shifting, this is a way how you know if your transmission control module is bad


  • Vehicle speed sensor 



The transmission control module uses the vehicle speed sensor to determine how fast the car is traveling, so it knows the correct time to change gears based on the car’s performance. If this sensor is not working at the right level or is functioning incorrectly, the transmission control module can choose the wrong gear at the appropriate time, causing the transmission to slip. This is how you know if your transmission control module is bad and can help you answer, can a bad sensor cause transmission problems?


  • Wheel speed sensor



The wheel speed sensor data helps the transmission control module know what the car is currently doing by performing it. Basically, this means that the wheel speed sensor tells the transmission control module what is happening in the car. The wheel speed sensor lets TCM properly adjust the shifting and gear changing accordingly. The wheel speed sensor also notifies the TPM of when to control and alter the function on the torque converter.


  • Turbine speed sensor



The turbine speed sensor, also known as the input speed sensor, is in charge of telling the TCM certain details. The transmission control module uses this data to determine the correct amount of slippage to put on the clutches, bands, and torque converter clutch. Without this ability, the transmission control module will not apply the proper tension, helping you to answer the question of can a bad sensor cause transmission problems.


  • Transmission fluid temperature sensor



The transmission fluid temperature sensor is typically utilized by older transmission control units that have to monitor and read the current health and longevity of the transmission system. The fluid temperature sensor can determine the performance of the transmission by the current efficiency and operating levels.


 If the transmission overheats during use, then the transmission control unit might turn on a special mode in your car to protect you and the drivers – this special mode is called limp mode to protect the transmission from further damage. If this does not turn on, then this is how you can answer whether a bad sensor can cause transmission problems?


Newer transmission control modules in more modern cars can use the sensor data to change the torque converter lockup clutch’s functioning and control or the line pressure accordingly. 


  • Brake light switch



Modern transmission control modules in newer cars are typically programmed with an engine braking code that will be able to determine the right time to downshift and stop the car at the correct time while driving. This engine brake system needs data directly from the sensor, so if this is not working, this is how you know if your transmission control module is bad. 


The TCM might also use this specific information to function correctly in tandem with the shift lock solenoid, preventing the driver from choosing the right gear unless the brake pedal is currently being pressed by the driver. The brake light switch directly relates to the sensor efficiency and can answer the question of can a bad sensor cause transmission problems? 


  • Cruise control module 



The transmission control module needs to receive an input of data from the cruise control system, which is the system that keeps your car driving at a steady speed, so it can properly modify the shifts to happen at the right time and reach the desired speed. If this cannot occur, then your car will not be able to maintain a consistent speed, meaning your transmission control module is bad. 


  • Engine Control Unit



The engine control unit is the brain and working computer of your vehicle. This component, along with the important transmission control module, works in tandem to make the vehicle operate efficiently and safely down the road. Some of the functions the ECU is in charge of include turning on the check engine light during failure, storing error codes that can help diagnostic processes, and temporarily changing the engine’s RPM to spur the proper gear change. 


Since the transmission control module is electrical with circuit boards and various wiring, it is in charge of holding different shifting programs. These codes allow the transmission control module to analyze the data from the sensors versus the preset parameters for your specific vehicle. 


Once the codes have been set, and the parameters are made, the engine control unit adjusts the shift times based on the solenoids to fit the driving situation. If the ECU and the TCM are not working, this is how you can answer the question of can a bad sensor cause transmission problems? 


  • Powertrain Control Module Microprocessor 


The powertrain control module microprocessor can be associated with the engine control unit as the brain and driver of a vehicle. The powertrain control module microprocessor receives information by gaining data from other sensors located around the vehicle. These transmission sensors are in charge of the shift timing, along with additional roles of vehicle shifting. 

The TCM, also known as the transmission control module, is an additional microprocessor that regulates the function of the transmission. These mechanisms are given information from all the sensors. If the TCM and the powertrain control module microprocessor are not working correctly, this can answer the question of can a bad sensor cause transmission problems?


  • The Manual Lever Position Switch


The Manual Lever Position Switch also called the Transmission Range sensor, has a very important function in the vehicle. The job of the manual lever position switch is to tell the PCM the location of the transmission shifter. The PCM will then use this data to control which one of the gears in the transmission has to disable or enable. During the failure of this sensor, your car can enter into the wrong gear starts. Additionally, there will be no upshifts, either. You will feel something feels wrong in your transmission and the gear shifter. If you feel the performance is off, this can tell you the answer to can a bad sensor cause transmission problems?


  • Coolant Temperature Sensor


The job of the Coolant Temperature sensor is to measure the temperature of the coolant within the engine. Also, this sensor is utilized to prevent overdrive within the engine and the clutch from becoming too cold during use. The coolant temperature sensor is further used by the powertrain control module to alter the engine’s air-fuel mixture ratio. 

The alteration of the engine’s air and fuel ratio can help provide a richer and fuller mixture when the engine is cold. If the failure occurs with the coolant temperature sensor, then you will notice an automatic transmission fault code and notice that a bad sensor causes transmission problems. 

Symptoms Of A Bad Transmission Sensor

When the position sensor fails over time, the car’s computer will not have any information to select the proper gear in your vehicle. Because of this, the car’s engine will most likely fail to start. Since the computer will not be able to determine if the car is in neutral, park, or reverse, the transmission and engine will not turn on.


  • Not Shifting 



The transmission sensors are in charge of telling the vehicle when to shift and whether to shift up or down. If the vehicle is not getting the right signals from the transmission sensor, then you know it will not be able to shift. The car that is stuck in gear might have a damaged or poorly working transmission sensor since it will not know whether to shift to a higher or lower gear. 


  • Bad shifting



If your transmission speed sensor is not working correctly, then this can answer the question of can a bad sensor cause your transmission to fail. A damaged transmission might tell the car to shit too late, lagging at the wrong time and missing the cue to shift gears. This can lead to hard shifting or cause your transmission to slip, which can be very detrimental to your car’s lifespan. 


  • Overheating



If there is overheating or too much friction in your car from excess motion, this can lead to inadequate cooling from the cooling system and excessive temperature. Sensors that register the incorrect temperature are prone to the transmission overheating and leading to a complete necessary replacement. 

Cost to Replace A Transmission Sensor

Although this part is not the most expensive repair or replacement in your vehicle, the cost to replace a transmission sensor can add up over time. However, this is key to answering the question of can a bad sensor cause transmission problems?

The average cost for a transmission position sensor repair or replacement can run you about $240 all the way up to $350. While our estimates are the average, you have to factor in the high labor costs as well. Those costs can cost you anywhere between $125 and $160. 


You might be wondering the answer to “Can a bad sensor cause transmission problems?” To properly answer this question, you must know the various sensors that are located in your transmission that control various functions. The different sensors, like the brake light switch, throttle position sensor, transmission speed sensor, wheel speed sensor, or coolant temperature sensor, can all ensure that your transmission is working at an optimal level. 

By knowing the common signs and symptoms of transmissions problems and issues with the transmission sensors, you can keep your car running at an optimal level for a long period of time. 

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