How do I know if a transmission solenoid is bad?

Written by edmund gary
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How do I know if a transmission solenoid is bad?
(Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

A transmission shift solenoid is an electromagnet designed to shift an automatic transmission through its sequence of gears. Shift solenoids are used on modern vehicles with electronic automatic transmissions. The solenoids modify the shift points in the automatic transmission valve body.

Early Warning Sign

The advantage of the electronic shift solenoid is that it can detect a problem with the transmission early and sends a warning to the driver by illuminating the "Service Engine Soon" lamp. A technician can plug a scan tool into the on-board computer and examine the trouble codes that the computer gives the scan tool and locate the problem.

Performance Codes

The on-board computer sends commands to the transmission to shift at the appropriate time to maximise engine performance. If the computer sends a shift command to the shift solenoid and the transmission fails to respond, a performance code is sent to the on-board computer. The transmission will fail to shift into a specific gear.

Electrical Faults

Electrical faults, such as shorts in the shift solenoid, can cause a malfunction. Electrical fault codes are set when the transmission controller or the power train control module detects the electrical problem and sends the code back to the on-board computer. This will cause the "Service Engine Soon" light to illuminate.

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