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.

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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.

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Fair Replacement Transmission Cost by Vehicle

  1. Use the Year / Make / Model lookup tool to determine what transmission your vehicle has.

  2. Find your transmission model in the table below for fair prices from reputable suppliers. Also fair labor cost for local installation at a local auto repair shop.

  3. Get a free estimate on a remanufactured transmission by email.

Fair Remanufactured Transmission Price Ranges by Transmission Model Updated July 2018

transmission repair cost
Download Replacement Transmission Cost Guide PDF

 

150 thoughts on “Transmission Solenoid: Symptoms & Replacement Cost

  1. I have a 2008 toyota rav e 4 I took my car for serv ice to get a new radiator after new radiator was I stalled I had transmission fluid in my coolant and my tra ns.mission fluid was like mud both overkill and transmission were like mud they drained my trans fluid at 250.000 miles which I nev er did before and now a month later my transmission is messed up the tra.s solenoid needs to e replaced my trans.ission was fine before this why did this happen

  2. 2000 Honda oddesee 3.5 doing 35 mh the transitions stopped Ingadging and engine would only rev,van would not move only engine Tec however if it sets it might go a little bit and do same thing

  3. 2000 Honda oddesee 3.5 doing 35 mh the transitions stopped Ingadging and engine would only rev,van would not move only engine Tec however if it sets it might go a little bit and do same thing

  4. Hi I have a Volvo Penta part with the following numbers on the end cap were the wiring loom attaches
    24v 33123080-65
    0 8 – 8.3bar
    27090
    Is this an of the shelf part, it is the same as the diagram 377 Pressure Control (PC) Solenoid Valve you have displayed above.’

    Thanks in advance
    Regards Terry

  5. My 2008 jeep grand cherokee has a nag1 that goes into limp mode when it reaches 5 gear. Didnt do this until we switched the ring and pinion. Replaced the conductor plate and speed sensors since they fried. New trans fluid and filter. All connections are good, clean and not broken anywhere. Not sure where to check next. Anyone able to help?

  6. I have a 2008 Ford Explorer 4WD which jerks very hard quite often when I put it in reverse and has started jerking some while I am just driving down the road. Any idea what the problem is?

  7. I have an 83 f150 2wd with aid tranny. At 35mph it’s like stomping on the gas in neutral, after a few seconds it shifts into overdrive. What could cause this?

  8. I have a Honda Accord 1997 that fails when driving out of nowhere it will drive and not drive I have to pull over and then it like clicks and begins driving again only started happening this summer cooler weather was fine there is a slow radiator leak code plug in says shift sensor what does anyone think is happening not worth fixing or 400 500 to fix would be fine

  9. my 328i e36 1998 model also have problem. 1st gear is fine ,2nd gear rev goes up till 5 before change then goes to safe mode.oil in the geabox is fine.What next to check.

  10. I agree with Chad up there. You put this page together very well. I appreciate all the info I have just learned. In the most simplified straight forward way possible, thank you. You should have been a teacher man, would have passed the first time.

  11. My ’03 Buick LaSabre will not move in any forward gears. First the high gear went, so I headed home, then 2nd and finally 1st… but I limped into driveway. Transmission still has reverse. Car has 154k miles, I am sure it has not beenserviced. I thought it seemed like clogged pumps and wondered if a service, flush and screen/filters would help me out.. or maybe the TCSsolenoid, or both? Please dvise, as I am on disability and times are ruff..

  12. Now this was written and organized by an intelligent person.
    I’ve been online for days on every page you can think of. This was clearly written and very simple to understand. Included all info necessary and in the order it should be in!. Then a follow up with pricing?? For any and all trans and rair labor and material costs with estimated times! It’s nice to know I’m not the only person left who finds this just logical and good common sense as to the layout and info. I have no fear of diving head first into my a340e trans now
    And really can’t thank you enough.
    You saved me on just about selling my 94 runner to the mechanic at my church who told me it was a nightmare job that would cost me too much. …but he’d give me 650$ bucks for the parts….lol my new tires cost me a grand! What a dickhead….can’t wait to see him on Sunday from my rig window in the parking lot.lol. thank you sir well done

  13. am driving Dodge Journey 2009 model, SXT (Auto) 3.6L and am currently experiencing gear changing problems. The gear got stuck at lower gear and doesnt change. It only change gears when the car is cold and after driving few KMs it will stop changing gears.

    What might be the problem?

    Regards,
    Mahlatse

  14. I have a 2007 kia spectra it shifts just fine but every now and then when I’m driving down the highway it jerks really hard almost feels like some one hit me from behind what could be causing this

  15. I am driving Dodge Journey 2012 model, SXT (Auto) 3.6L and am currently experiencing gear changing problems. The gear got stuck at lower gear and doesnt change. It only change gears when the car is cold and after driving few KMs it will stop changing gears.

    What might be the problem?

    Regards,
    Mahlatse

    • I am driving Dodge Journey 2009 model, SXT (Auto) 3.6L and am currently experiencing gear changing problems. The gear got stuck at lower gear and doesnt change. It only change gears when the car is cold and after driving few KMs it will stop changing gears.

      What might be the problem?

      Regards,
      Mahlatse

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