Transmission Solenoid: Symptoms & Replacement Cost

Modern automatic transmissions use pressurized hydraulic fluid to change gears. Every time a gear change is required, the car’s computer activates a transmission solenoid, which directs transmission fluid into the valve body to engage the correct gear. If one of these electro-mechanical valves fail, then all sorts of transmission problems can ensue. So let’s take a closer look at the shift solenoid, and the common problems associated with it.

Need a replacement transmission? Get an estimate for replacement transmissions and local installation. Look up your transmission model by vehicle make and model.

What Transmission Do I Have?

How Does a Transmission Solenoid Work?

As you’re going down the road, the car’s computer analyzes data being sent by vehicle speed sensors and engine speed sensors. Based on this information, the Engine Control Unit (ECU), or the Transmission Control Unit (TCM), executes the appropriate upshift / downshift by sending a signal to one of several shift solenoids. These transmission solenoids have a spring-loaded plunger inside, which are wrapped with wire. When this coil of wire receives an electrical charge from the TCM / ECU, it causes the plunger to open, allowing transmission fluid to flow into the valve body and pressurize the desired clutches and bands. When this happens, the transmission changes gears and you continue down the road.

The car’s computer can control the transmission solenoid in several ways. If the vehicle is equipped with a dedicated Transmission Control Unit, it can open or close the hydraulic circuit using a direct 12v signal. Or, the Engine Control Unit can control the solenoid’s plunger by turning the ground circuit on and off. A solenoid can be used to control a single gear or multiple gears, depending upon the complexity of the design.
Transmission Solenoid Locations

Symptoms of a Transmission Solenoid Problem

Solenoid A transmission solenoid can fail due to electrical issues, or dirty fluid that’s caused the shift solenoid to become stuck open / closed. Any change in the transmission fluid pressure can cause numerous problems, including:

Erratic Shifting – If you’re dealing with a failed transmission solenoid, the gearbox can skip a gear up or down, shift back and forth between gears repeatedly, or get stuck in a gear and refuse to shift.

Transmission Won’t Downshift – If the transmission will not downshift, one of the shift solenoids may have become stuck open / closed, preventing fluid from entering the transmission valve body to pressurize the correct gear.

Severe Shifting Delay / Stuck in Neutral – In order for an electronically controlled automatic transmission to shift gears, the solenoid must be able to regulate the fluid pressure to activate the appropriate gear. If the shift solenoid is receiving too much or too little electric current, or dirty transmission fluid has caused it to become stuck open / closed, gear engagement maybe become difficult or delayed, which can cause the transmission to act as if it is temporarily locked in neutral.

Because the solenoids are connected to a vehicle’s electrical system, the ECU will usually register an error code and trigger the check engine light if something goes wrong. If this happens, the transmission can go into limp / fail mode, where it will only engage second / third gear to limit the vehicle speed without immobilizing it.

The first thing that your mechanic should look at are the error codes. Using a scan tool, the technician can determine the source of the solenoid’s problem. It could be as simple as a bad ground, or as complex as a failed solenoid pack (a grouping of individual shift solenoids).

Transmission Solenoid Replacement Cost – Parts & Labor

In most cases, solenoids are located inside of the oil pan, connected to the valve body. Depending on what you drive, the technician may be able to replace just the failed shift solenoid. However in some cases, the solenoids come in these multiple unit packs so if there is a problem with one, the entire pack must be replaced. This job typically takes 2-4 hours to complete, and shop time is generally billed at $60 – $100 per hour. The average total cost to diagnose and replace one ranges between $150 and $400.

Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, expect to pay between $15 – $100 for a single transmission shift solenoid. A pack can cost $50 to $300.

TypeCost Range
Single$15 to $100
Pack$50 to $300
Labor$120 to $400
Total (Pack)$250 to $600

Solenoid Pack

Although it isn’t unusual for transmission shift solenoids to wear out over time, you can extend their life by changing your transmission fluid at the factory recommended intervals. This will clean out all of the dirt and sludge that builds up, and the fresh fluid will keep the plungers on the inside of the solenoids from sticking. If you don’t know what your vehicle’s recommended transmission service intervals are, check the back of your owner’s manual, or simply ask Google.

Get a great deal on a replacement solenoid – for as low as $11 on Amazon <

Need a replacement transmission? Get an estimate for replacement transmissions and local installation. Look up your transmission model by vehicle make and model.

What Transmission Do I Have?

 

256
Leave a Comment

Mike Witt

I have a 2007 Altima that has a shifting issue. It it the Crap CVT tranny.
I have had the dealership reset the TCM once already to get it out of lump mode. My question is , it seams to be stuck in 4 gear and I need it to drive home.
If i clean the valve body and change fluid will it make it 140 ish miles?

thank you for any assistance..

Raymond Paul Gabaldon

i have a 2008 Buick Enclave. the transmission stays in low gear. if if stop and turn off the engine for 15 seconds and then turn on, the transmission will change gears properly.
Help…what is wrong!

Richard L Godschalk

If a couple of the bolts that mount the solenoid striped out can they be left out and not cause a problem , there are several bolts holding well I think 2 striped out?

Jess Lauren

I have a 2008 Chevy Impala w/ 194,000 miles and first it was just slipping a little and putting Lucas and tranny fluid in and it was good. Now it will drive but won’t switch out of first gear or go over 25mph. And I put a water pump on last December, then a few months ago replaced the water pump then just spent $1900 on the entire brake system and power steering line and the belt. So I really need it to be an easy fix…any ideas. Thank you~

Gary

On a2002 VW Winnebago I changed the battery and it won’t come out of park wth!!! Any help would be greatly appreciated thanks.

James M Green

Usually when a vehicle won’t shift out of park is because you have a blown fuse.

kevin

I dont know about all that James

Candy

I have a 2ooo chevy blazer just stop shifting.will only go into reverse.only problem i had before this happened it was over heating.could this be silinoid problem

ROBERT

Hi I have a 2004 Ford taurus that has about 150000 miles on it . Cars in mint condition (for a 2004) its from Florida. Anyway the only problem is shifting from 1st to 2nd gear its shifts but it not smooth by any means all other gear shifts are fine .
My question is is it possible that its just a solenoid? Or is that wishful thinking?

Ian

yes i had the same problem and is most likley the shift solenoid

Traylor Morgan

Pressure Control silnoid
Acts like in neutral !

Rob

Hi i have a vw rabbit 2007 2.5 auto trans the car drives ok with cold engine, but when warm it shift hard almost jumping from 2’to 3rd gear went to several laces i got told different things but nothing on the OBD no errors thank you

Robert

I have 2007 rabbit hard shift 1st and 2nd when hot

Steven

I have a Chevy Silverado’95. It doesn’t shift into 4th

RICH

WERE IS THE CONTROL SOLENOID ON A 2007 DODGE DAKTOTA

Jr

I have a 2004dodge ram 4.7 I can rev the truck when in park once I put it into gear it goes into limp mode and ideas I’ve put new coils new injectors and plugs starting to think I have a bad transmission selenoid

Nick

Car rpm goes into 3000 in 1st or 2nd in a automatic Hyundai XG350 and down shifts with a clunk at complete stop

Joe

2007 Ford Edge AWD 100,350 miles- tried to accelerate, no power to get out of way, then it kicks in hard & no problems. Got to destination, shut of engine. Restart & wrench light comes on & shortly after the engine light.
Take it to shop, code comes up P0763 & P0980 – Solenoid C.
Replace the entire solenoid pack. Drive car locally with no issues for 2 months. Go to get on parkway – same exact problem! WTH? Car shop is stumped. Is this a trans problem, computer issue? Car rides beautiful otherwise. Need to drive long distance out of state on a few months and need to know what to do. HELP!

1 8 9 10