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The transmission control module (TCM) works with the engine and transmission to keep the car moving forward. It determines the appropriate time to change gears to ensure smooth and easy driving.

The TCM also sends OBD-II codes to the vehicle computer whenever it detects any irregularities or malfunctioning components within the car’s transmission. These codes will then illuminate the check engine light to alert the driver of the issue. In some cases, resetting the TCM could resolve the problem.

What Does Resetting the Transmission Control Module Do?

Resetting the TCM reestablishes its factory settings and makes it forget what it has previously learned. It’s one of the possible fixes to faulty connections in the solenoids or other components.

Bad connections could affect the module and cause transmission issues. Reverting the TCM to its factory settings could eliminate the problems they caused.

How to Reset the Transmission Control Module

The process to reset the TCM could vary depending on the vehicle, but it usually involves the following steps:

  • Step 1: Turn off the vehicle’s air conditioner and set the car into Park (P) position to prevent it from freewheeling.
  • Step 2: Wait around 20 seconds before turning the ignition off.
  • Step 3: Wait at least 10 seconds, then start the engine and let it idle for a couple of seconds.
  • Step 4: Turn off the ignition again and repeat step 3, but shift to Drive (D) mode this time.
  • Step 5: The alarm will trigger if the TCM reset is successful.
  • Step 6: Drive the vehicle to help the module relearn its settings.
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It’s best to take your vehicle to a nearby auto shop if there are still malfunctions after resetting the TCM. Chances are, there’s a damaged component that the reset can’t fix.

When to Reset the Transmission Control Module

Resetting the TCM won’t fix severe transmission issues, but it does clear errors. Some scenarios where rebooting the module could be necessary include delayed shifting, stuck gears, and poor fuel economy.

When Shifting is Delayed

Delayed shifting is a common issue with automatic transmission vehicles. It’s when the car feels jerky and rough. It’s often an indication of issues within the transmission system, and resetting the TCM usually fixes it.

Since the TCM interprets electric signals from different vehicle sensors, such as the transmission speed sensor, a worn-out or malfunctioning one may have delays in relaying signals.

Resetting it could momentarily fix the connection between the sensors and the transmission system.

When the Gear is Stuck

A faulty TCM could lead to you getting stuck in one gear, preventing you from shifting higher or lower. Or even when it does, it goes back into one gear. It’s a dangerous situation to be in, as it could damage the engine by working harder (higher rotations per minute, or RPM).

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Luckily, resetting the module could fix the issue. Similar to shifting delays, the issue could stem from delayed signals due to an older TCM. Resetting it could reconnect the TCM to the related vehicle sensors.

If rebooting the system doesn’t work, then it may mean that the module itself is damaged. In this case, replacement may be the best option.

When You Experience Poor Fuel Economy

An automatic transmission car is designed for optimal gear selection and timing to ensure better fuel economy. A faulty TCM negatively affects this timing, making the engine work harder and increasing fuel consumption.

Resetting the TCM may fix the timing, but it doesn’t always work, as the issue may lie within the timing belt.

Can I Drive With a Faulty Transmission Control Module?

It’s not recommended to drive a vehicle with a faulty transmission control module. While your car will still move, you’ll have difficulty shifting gears.

Take your vehicle to a nearby auto shop as soon as you notice any of the symptoms listed above. Neglecting any of the issues could lead to jerking, surging, stuttering, or even engine issues.

Additionally, the symptoms above could also be a product of other worn-out components. For example, a stuck gear may also be the result of a contaminated transmission fluid. Regardless, it’s best to refer to a mechanic, as they can better diagnose and resolve these issues.

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How Much Does It Cost to Repair the Transmission Control Module?

It costs somewhere between $300 and $500 to repair the transmission control module. However, the price could go up to $1,500 for repairs, depending on the severity of the damage, the replacement TCM cost, and the auto shop’s labor fee.

How Long Does the Transmission Control Module Last?

Typically, the transmission control module lasts as long as the vehicle’s lifespan. However, it could malfunction because of failing components, such as high-temperature engines and failing sensors.

Similarly, exposure to water or the elements could also harm the TCM, resulting in issues with the car’s transmission. Since the TCM is an electrical component, moisture could short-circuit the current.

Final Thoughts

Resetting the transmission control module could clear error codes. It makes the TCM forget everything it has previously learned.

Some problems you could fix with a simple reset include delayed shifting, a stuck gear, and poor fuel economy. However, do note that resetting the TCM doesn’t always work. In severe cases, it’s best to take your vehicle to a nearby auto shop and have it inspected by professionals.

About The Author
CarParts Research Team
Written By CarParts.com Research Team

Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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