The shift solenoids allow for electrical control of transmission fluid. If one goes out, your transmission could stop working.
Unfortunately, without knowing the make and model of your vehicle, there’s no way to predict if you can replace a solenoid or if you have to replace the full pack.
That’s because different manufacturers use either a sealed solenoid pack or a serviceable one.
The average cost of replacing a solenoid is $600. This includes $50-$350 for the solenoid or solenoid pack. The rest is the cost of labor. Here, you’ll usually pay for 2-4 hours of your mechanic’s time or an average of $250.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of replacing solenoid cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
How Much Does Solenoid Replacement Cost?*
The largest cost factor in replacing a shift solenoid will always be the make and model of vehicle. That’s because some vehicles have a solid or sealed solenoid pack.
To replace a solenoid, you’ll have to replace all of them. And that normally costs $200-$350 or more if you have a luxury car.
Other vehicles don’t have a sealed pack. Therefore, you can get away with replacing a single solenoid in the pack. That might drop the costs to an average of $50 or as little as $6.
This means that the cost of solenoid replacement varies significantly from vehicle to vehicle. You can see estimates for popular vehicle models below.
|Vehicle||Shift Solenoid Cost||Labor Cost|
|Dodge RAM 1500||$120-$398||$154-$222|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (February 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
Solenoid Replacement Price Factors
Replacing solenoids can be pricy. It can also be relatively inexpensive. For example, Pontiac and BMW cars make it extremely easy to access the solenoids. If you only have to replace one, you could do it yourself for under $50.
Unfortunately, not all vehicles are so straightforward. You can expect your mechanic to spend at least 2 hours on the job on average. And, with sealed solenoid packs, the cost of parts can escalate to well over $300.
Single or Sealed Solenoids
The largest potential cost for replacing your solenoids is whether you need a full pack or not. For example, as stated, many vehicles have sealed solenoid packs.
If your vehicle has a sealed pack, you’ll have to replace the full pack. That immediately increases the cost of the parts to $250-$600 depending on your vehicle.
At the same time, you might have to replace most or even all of your solenoids even if you don’t have a sealed pack. That’s because the conditions that cause Solenoid A or B to go back also cause Solenoid C to go bad.
If you only have to replace one solenoid, you might be able to find an option for $15-$50 per solenoid. If you have to replace more, you’ll just have to multiply that cost.
Accessing and changing transmission solenoids normally means jacking up the car and taking off the oil pan or removing the valve body. On average, the work takes at least 2 hours. In some cases, it can take up to 4.
Depending on where you live, you’ll pay $15-$210+ for labor. Here, the national average is about $60 at the time of writing this article.
In some vehicles, removing solenoids is very easy. In others, you’ll have to remove the valve body to access them.
On the other hand, if you go to a national chain which offers a warranty, like Midas or PepBoys, you can expect to pay $99-$200 for labor.
If you know the average cost of mechanic labor in your area, you can predict what this should cost. Otherwise, you’ll have to go ask for quotes.
Make and Model
The make and model affect several aspects of your repair. For example, it affects how difficult it is to get to the solenoids.
It also impacts whether you have a solenoid pack or individual solenoids. And, it even impacts how many transmission solenoids your vehicle has.
However, more importantly, it affects the cost you pay per solenoid. Here, brands like Ford, Audi, and Dodge tend to be more expensive. Budget brands like Pontiac, Toyota, and Honda tend to be more affordable.
Finally, your make and model affect costs based on how popular it is. The more of your make and model are on the road, the less your mechanic will charge to service it.
That’s because they’re more likely to have the solenoids on hand already. In addition, they’re more likely to have experience changing the solenoids and they know exactly how much work it will be.
Remanufactured and Aftermarket Options
You can almost always save money on transmission solenoids by choosing aftermarket or made-to-fit models.
These are made to meet the specifications of the original manufacturer. However, they’re also made to fit as many vehicles as possible, which means the manufacturer takes on less risk.
This means they may not actually match the solenoids in your vehicle. However, the fit should be good enough.
You might also want to choose remanufactured solenoids. These are broken or used solenoids that have been restored to like-new factory condition.
The quality of remanufacturing varies and not all mechanics will use remanufactured parts. However, this can be a great way to save money on a solenoid pack.
5 Symptoms of A Bad Shift Solenoid
If your transmission solenoids are going out, you’ll probably notice. Shift solenoids come into play every time you shift gear.
These wire coils transfer energy from the EOC to the transmission, creating movement, and allowing solenoid valves to send oil through the next valve body – so that it shifts into the next gear.
Of course, in most engines, the check transmission and check engine lights should go on if you’re starting to have issues.
However, you might also see some of the other symptoms.
1. Delays Shifting
If your shift solenoid is having issues you might still be able to shift gears. However, the shift might happen slowly.
You might also have a pause in which the shift does nothing and then you suddenly shift into gear. This can be dangerous depending on how you’re driving.
2. Gear Skipping / Gear Engagement Issues
If your vehicle isn’t engaging with a gear and is instead skipping to the next one, you might have a solenoid issue. This might also be an issue with transmission fluid or even the valve.
However, if the solenoid is out, it won’t shift to that gear. Therefore, you should always check the solenoids.
3. Downshift/Upshift Issues
If your transmission solenoids or shift solenoid are out, you might have issues at low and high RPM.
This can cause difficulties with downshift and upshift, which might mean the transmission doesn’t shift or that it shifts too hard.
Some vehicles have a mode called “Limp mode” built in. This is designed to protect your engine. It may prevent you from shifting over gear 3.
It might also limit your engine to a maximum of about 3,000 RPM. If this is the case, it’s important to have your vehicle serviced immediately.
This mode is designed to protect your vehicle from burning out the transmission – so it forces you to take it easy until the issue is fixed.
5. Gear Sticking
If you’re stuck in gear, it may be a solenoid issue. However, that’s not always the case. You might also have a stuck valve. Or you might be low on transmission fluid.
In any case, it’s important to take your vehicle in to have it checked. If your gears are sticking, it’s always a sign that you need maintenance. In addition, it might be dangerous for you and other drivers.
Here, you might actually be stuck in one gear until you replace the solenoid or externally power it. If you don’t know how to do the latter, you might have to have the vehicle towed to have the part replaced.
Replacing A Solenoid: 6 Steps
If you want to replace the solenoids in your vehicle, you can likely do it yourself. However, you should take the time to determine if your vehicle needs a solenoid pack or individual solenoids.
You can also go to an auto-parts store to ask for a free diagnostic if they offer one. For example, PepBoys usually charges $99-$120 for a diagnostic, but other mechanics will do it for free.
However, a diagnostic will tell you which solenoid has gone bad. Vehicles normally have 3-6 transmission solenoids.
- Replacement solenoids
- Floor jack + Jack stands
- Wrench set and + ratchet and socket set. Check your vehicle and get metric or standard sizes as needed.
- Flathead screwdriver
- Oil pan
- Replacement transmission fluid
- Park your car on a flat and level space. Turn the ignition off. Then, unplug the battery from the negative post. Block the back wheels. Then, raise the front-end using a floor jack. Use jack stands to stabilize the vehicle.
- Locate the transmission and drain the transmission fluid using the drain plug. You’ll want to use a plastic pan to catch the run-off.
- Inspect under the transmission to see if you can see the red, yellow, and blue wires. If so, the solenoid is accessible without accessing the valve compartment. You’ll normally have to remove the transmission fluid container to access them anyway. However, you can do so by taking the bolts off and then using a flat screwdriver to pry it open.
- Look for the solenoid valve body. This should have a wire harness coming out of it. Here, you can unplug the wires. Then, use a wrench and screwdriver to remove all of the bolts and screws. These vary by model.
- Pull the bad solenoids or the full pack out. Make sure you take out any pins or metal plates.
- Replace the solenoids you removed.
In addition, it’s always a good idea to take the time to clean the solenoid valves while you have them out.
Simply wiping them down or using an air spray cleaner can do a great deal for keeping your vehicle in good working condition.
Additionally, if you’re not sure which solenoid is bad, you can use a solenoid test. Here you need a multimeter, a solenoid, safety glasses, and gloves. You cannot test a solenoid pack using this method.
Touch the jumper cables to the negative and positive polls of the solenoid. If it clicks, it’s probably working. However, you might also want to inspect the solenoid valve if you have integrated valve solenoids.
Shift solenoids can be complicated to replace. Therefore, you probably still have questions.
Can I drive with a bad shift solenoid?
You might be able to. However, it likely prevents you from driving in at least one gear.
Therefore, it might be dangerous to do so.
Can you replace a shift solenoid yourself?
Normally, you can easily replace the shift solenoid pack yourself. However, you’ll need access to the transmission.
In addition, it can take some time if you have to take the valve body apart and then put it back together.
How long should a solenoid last?
Shift solenoids might last the lifespan of the vehicle. On the other hand, they might last a few years.
Regular maintenance of your transmission and transmission fluid is one way to ensure your solenoids last as long as possible.
However, your driving conditions, driving speed, and environment also play a role.
Is there a fuse for shift solenoid?
All TCM and solenoid wiring is protected by fuses. You can access these in the control module.
Replacing your solenoid costs anywhere from $50-$800 depending on what has to be replaced.
For example, if you’re replacing one solenoid yourself, you’ll have minimal costs.
On the other hand, if you’re having a mechanic replace the entire pack, you’ll likely pay as much as $350-$600 for the pack alone.