Finding the Right AT Solenoid Valve for Your Car
Owning a vehicle with an automatic transmission lets you enjoy a smooth, easy, and clutch-free driving experience. But the fun stops when the automatic transmission solenoid valve ceases to function properly. The AT shift solenoid valve is the master controller of your gears. It provides you the power to control the movement of your road monster by shifting from one gear to another. But just like any other car part, it is susceptible to wear and tear. A lot of things can contribute to shift solenoid valve malfunction. Loose cables and faulty connections, power shortage from the battery, and contamination of the transmission fluid are just some of them. When you start to experience difficulty in shifting gears, it is probably time for your shift solenoid valves to retire.
What to look for in a transmission solenoid valve?
Hundreds of automatic transmission solenoid valves are available in the online market today. Finding the right one will be a tricky process. First thing to remember in finding a replacement is that OEM solenoid valves are usually the most reliable. You are certain that they are of premium quality and that they will fit your vehicle perfectly. Second, solenoid valves are exposed to high amount of pressure and extreme temperature. They should be strong enough to withstand the harsh engine environment. It would help if you know the different types of transmission solenoids and their capabilities.
Types of transmission solenoids
Solenoid valves are used in various applications. Thus, there are a lot of types to choose from. But for our purpose, there are four basic types of transmission solenoid valves.
- Variable force solenoid valve - it controls pressure in a proportional or inversely proportional manner as a reaction to the voltage produced by the transmission controller of a powertrain. Low-flow VFS is for application of clutches, while high-flow VFS is for a direct shift control of the clutch. This type is used in most automatic transmission vehicles.
- On-off solenoid valve - it comes in two types: "normally open" and "normally closed." The first one stays open until a voltage closes the valve. The second type is the most common. It remains closed until a current causes it to open.
- Pulse width modulation solenoid valve - it is powered by voltage that is set at a given frequency and period of time. The time that the voltage is on is expressed as a percentage and is called a duty cycle. For instance, a 30% duty cycle means that the voltage is on 30% of the time period, and off for the other 70%.
- Low-leak variable bleed solenoid valve - it is an alteration of the signal level VFS. The low-leak VBS shows low leakage at both high and low control pressures.
Your vehicle specifications and your preferences as a car owner are some of the major factors in finding the perfect fit transmission solenoid valve for your automobile. But of course, the choices for your replacements will be limited by your budget. Most of the time, the more expensive options offer the best quality while the less expensive ones are prone to premature wear. So be careful not to compromise the quality just because you want to save a couple of bucks. The trick here is to scour the internet for reliable online sellers that offer the MOST REASONABLE deals.
How to Install Your New Automatic Transmission Solenoid Valve
Commonly regarded as the brain or control unit of your automatic transmission system, the shift solenoid valve controls the flow of the fluids and the hydraulic pressure allowing you to shift gears and manipulate the movement of your vehicle. Since it does most of the work in vehicles with automatic transmission, your shift solenoids are bound to retire and deteriorate. When this happens, shifting from one gear to another becomes a problem. So before you experience more serious troubles like failure in shifting to the right gear, over-shifting, or not being able to shift gears at all, get a new shift solenoid and do the installation yourself.
Difficulty level: Moderate
What you'll need:
- New shift solenoid
- Floor jack and jack stands
- Catch pan
- Wrench and ratchet set
- Break bar
- Rubber mallet
- Soft wire brush
- New transmission oil
- New oil pan gasket
Step 1: Find a spacious place where you can work on your vehicle. Park your car and shift the gear to neutral. Lift your car up using a floor jack and support it with at least 2 jack stands. For your safety, make use of heavy-duty jack stands.
Step 2: Put a catch pan below the transmission pan. Remove the drain plug using a wrench. Unfasten the mounting bolts from the transmission. Use a ratchet and a ratchet extension if you have to. With your rubber mallet, tap the front of the oil pan to let the oil drain.
Step 3: Remove the rest of the mounting bolts. Tilt the pan to remove the remaining oil. Remove the pan from the vehicle.
Step 4: Locate the shift solenoid valve and remove it from the valve body. Disconnect the electrical wires attached to it using a screwdriver.
Step 5: Install the replacement shift solenoid. Secure it in place with the mounting bolts. Reconnect the wires to the shift solenoid and the valve body using the screwdriver.
Step 6: Remove excess oil, grease, and other residues from the gasket-mating surface and the oil pan. Use a soft wire brush and rags. Re-install the oil pan and your new gasket with the mounting bolts. Use a ratchet, ratchet extension, and socket to put the gasket and pan in place. Remember to tighten the bolts carefully in a crisscross pattern. Doing this will prevent any damage to the pan and gasket that may cause oil leaks.
Step 7: Remove the jack stands and lower your vehicle. Refill your oil pan with the recommended type and amount of transmission oil for your vehicle make and model. You will find this information in your car manual. Check the oil pan for leaks.
Replacing your shift solenoid is a tricky and messy job. The entire process will take a few hours to finish. It is advisable for beginners to ask for someone's help for this project while expert DIYers can do the replacement by themselves.