If your vehicle has an automatic transmission, there is something called a transmission valve body inside it. If you do not know a lot about the insides of a car, then you might not have heard about it. However, you do need to know that it plays quite an essential role in the overall health of your vehicle. Hence, the importance of a timely valve body replacement.
A lot of people will also often call it the transmission’s brain. With all of that, you can now understand why having a transmission valve body functioning correctly in your car is essential. If your transmission valve body goes wrong, you have to pay to replace it with a new one. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the transmission valve body replacement and what it would cost you.
What Exactly Is A Transmission Valve Body And How Does It Work?
Before we get into all the technical parts, it is better to start from the basics and know what a transmission valve body is and how it works.
To an automatic transmission, the transmission valve body is like a control center. At your first glance at the transmission valve body, you might think it looks similar to a maze. You will generally see them be made out of aluminum. It comes together like a maze consisting of different channels, passageways, solenoids, and valves.
Even though the transmission valve body might have quite a complex layout, it is in charge of a relatively simple job. It controls the different clutches, drums, and bands that help change the gears by directing transmission fluid through the valves.
The valves open and close when a gear shift is needed. It’s so that the transmission fluid can be directed to where it is necessary to make the gear shift happen. Vehicles come with many sensors that monitor the throttle position, vehicle speed, and engine load. This information is sent to an onboard computer. The computer then communicates with the transmission valve body so that it can shift between the gears.
Your vehicle will not get the transmission fluid where necessary if your vehicle’s transmission valve body is not functioning as it should be. It could cause issues when driving your car and cause all kinds of problems with your transmission.
Transmission Valve Body Replacement: How Often Do You Need To Do It?
If you have never heard the name of a transmission valve body before, there is quite a good reason for that. Even though it is an essential part of your vehicle’s transmission, it is not known to break down in a car that often. It is also uncommon for transmission valve bodies to be up and working as long as your vehicle is.
You may have this never happen to you. However, this is not to say that it does not happen at all. A transmission valve body can break down on you, but it usually is relatively easy to tell if it does break down.
You will most likely realize that something is going on with your transmission valve body without having to drive around a lot with it. It’s why you should pay attention to your transmission valve body so that you can get yours fixed as soon as possible. The problem might get even worse the longer you wait.
What Are Some Of The Most Common Symptoms Of A Transmission Valve Body Gone Bad?
Just as we mentioned above, if your transmission valve body has gone wrong, you do not have to look that hard to figure out the symptoms. It is most likely that you or anyone with you in the car while you drive will be able to if there are any problems with your transmission valve body.
You will likely hear some knocking sounds at first coming out of your transmission. It usually means that there is a problem with the transmission valve body in your vehicle. However, if you do not take care of this soon, it will only worsen.
Below we have listed some of the most common signs you will see if your transmission valve body has gone wrong.
Delayed Or Harsh Shifts (Garage Shifts)
If there is something wrong with the transmission valve body in your vehicle, then one of the most common symptoms that you will notice is that there is 2 seconds or more delay when shifting gears.
This delayed or harsh shift typically happens when you move from Park to Reverse or from Park to Drive. You will see this more commonly known as Garage Shifts.
If your problem mainly arises in one of the situations, such as going from Park to Reverse, you should try to cut down the number of times you get into that situation. Do this even if it means that you have to back into a parking space or a garage each time.
Shifting Up Or Down Incorrectly
You might notice that when you are driving, the transmission of your vehicle is shifting into a lower or a higher gear at the wrong times. For example, you will want your transmission to give you more power by shifting down when you are driving uphill.
However, you will notice that your transmission shifts into a higher gear instead, making the drive uphill a lot more complicated.
You might also notice that when you are driving on a level highway at a steady speed, your transmission occasionally shifts into lower or higher gear for no apparent reason. Keep in mind that any rough shifting can signify that your transmission valve body has gone wrong.
Your engine’s RPM should decrease briefly to an upshift, for example, from 3rd to 4th gear, when you are shifting between gears. It should be the case if your transmission valve body and transmission are working just as they should.
However, when something opposite of that happens, we call it a Shift Flare. What happens is that the RPM of your engine increases instead of decreasing during an upshift.
Knocking Or Banging Sounds
If you notice knocking or banging sounds when your gears are changing, you are going into upshifting (accelerating) or going into downshifting (slowing down). You might also hear these noises when you put your car into reverse and drive backward. All of this may also be a sign that your transmission valve body is not working.
Slippage Of Your Gears
It could be a symptom of your transmission valve body going wrong if you notice the transmission of your vehicle slipping out of gear when you are driving.
However, you should still know that this could also happen if you are low on transmission fluid or if the transmission bands are worn out. So your transmission slipping out of gear might not necessarily mean that your transmission valve body is not functioning correctly.
Your vehicle might try to go into an upshift or accelerate, but then it will fall to a lower gear quickly. Your vehicle might even just straight up not shift into a higher gear. It’s terrible for your engine since it makes it run at a higher RPM than it usually would.
The Check Engine Light In Your Car Is On
Suppose you are experiencing any of the signs mentioned above and see your malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) or check engine light turned on. In that case, it might be in your best interest that you take your vehicle for a proper diagnosis.
Since most of your vehicle’s transmission functions are taken care of by the transmission valve body, many of the DTC codes related to the transmission might pop up. Some of the standard codes that might show up are P2707, P0715, P0783, P0829, P0751, including many others. It’s why it would be good if you scan your vehicle for the stored diagnostic trouble codes.
Not Able To Downshift
The hydraulic or transmission fluid might not be navigating or going into the transmission valve body properly if your transmission cannot properly downshift. The gears will not be able to be appropriately pressurized when this happens. If you let this slip by and ignore it, your vehicle’s performance will keep on degrading over time.
Not Able To Shift Into Some Gears
To properly direct the flow of the transmission fluid inside the transmission valve body, the transmission control module or TCM can turn many solenoids on and off.
You might notice that you cannot shift at all, or you are just locked out of some gears if one of these solenoids were to stop working on you. Depending on the cause, a qualified and trusted transmission shop would be able to replace the necessary components on the transmission valve body and execute a valve body replacement.
If the reason were something too serious that cannot be fixed, you would need to buy another transmission valve body.
These symptoms might not start as the worst at first, so you can easily ignore them. However, you will begin to notice the problems with your transmission valve body a lot more clearly when your transmission is fully heated up after a while of continuous driving (at least around 30 minutes or more).
If you are experiencing these problems, you should take your car to a qualified workshop to get it checked and see if you will have to budget for the transmission valve body replacement cost.
Valve Body Replacement: Know The Types
You should know about the types of valves if you want to understand better what to do with your transmission valve body if it were to stop working. You will need to know about the two types of valve bodies so that you can make proper adjustments to yours.
There are mainly two types of transmission valve bodies. The first type of transmission valve body we will talk about is the electronic transmission valve body. This valve body uses the electronic system ECT, also known as electronic controlled transmission, as the primary control to operate all shiftings on the automatic transmission.
ECT or electronic control transmission that comes with clutches and bands which are operated with the help of hydraulics are used by most modern cars nowadays. However, each of the hydraulic circuits is controlled by an electric solenoid valve. Compared to the transmissions that are non-electronically controlled, this makes for more advanced and elaborate control schemes for the transmission.
The transmission’s controller monitors the anti-lock braking system, the vehicle speed, the engine speed, and the throttle position.
The second type of transmission valve body is known as the hydraulic valve body. As the name suggests, for each of the valves that are linked to the shift lever, the system makes use of hydraulic pressure.
When the position of the handle is changed, specific passages will cover and uncover in the valve’s body to have that position accommodated. For example, if you were in your car and changed the gear lever to go into Drive, then the first gear would get activated since the fluid would be directed into the clutch to activate it.
Is It Okay To Keep On Driving A Vehicle That Has A Bad Transmission Valve Body?
You will most likely be tempted to ignore it when you first see potential issues arising with the transmission valve body in your vehicle. You might ignore the check engine light that is turned on or turn up the music in your car, so you do not have to hear the knocking or banging sounds coming from your transmission to avoid valve body replacement.
However, it is strongly advised that no matter what, you should not at all be driving around with a bad transmission valve body, at least not for an extended period. It might start as something minor, but with time it can quickly develop into something significant that could even affect your vehicle’s whole transmission system.
If you are driving around with the wrong transmission valve body, you will put your vehicle’s transmission under a massive load of stress. It’s precisely the reason why you should take your car to a trusted professional shop to get your transmission valve body fixed or just entirely replaced with a newer one before you get back on the road and start driving.
Where Should You Take Your Vehicle For Valve Body Replacement?
It is not an easy task to replace a transmission valve body. It’s something that even the most experienced and talented mechanics can find challenging. It is quite the technical work to get to the transmission valve body to have it removed and replaced.
It should be a good enough reason for you to not trust just about anyone working on your transmission valve body if it has gone wrong. It’s better if you find someone qualified for the job and knows their way around a transmission valve body of the vehicle.
The least you can do for the safety of your vehicle when you are installing a new transmission valve body in your car is to make sure the mechanic is ASE certified. However, if it is possible for you, then you should make an effort and take your vehicle to a transmission specialist since they will know what they are dealing with.
Specialists can adequately diagnose the transmission valve body of your vehicle and find out what the exact issue is. They can find out if your transmission valve body needs to be repaired or just totally replaced and then start working.
If your vehicle is not taken to a transmission specialist to get your new transmission valve body installed, you might just run into many other transmission problems in the future. It could end up with you having to do a major repair for the whole transmission system of your vehicle just from a bad valve body replacement job.
When that happens, you will wish that you just went the extra mile and took your vehicle to a transmission specialist to get it fixed.
Valve Body Replacement: Can You Do It By Yourself?
If you have never worked on the transmission of your vehicle and were successfully able to do it, you should have it done with the help of professionals. If you do not know what you are doing, then it is better that you do not go anywhere near your vehicle’s transmission to replace your transmission valve body.
One of the most important and complicated parts of your vehicle is the transmission system of your car. It can be challenging for someone to fix your transmission valve body since it is full of different types of components.
It’s why replacing your transmission valve body is going to be of no luck to you, and you might end up doing a lot more harm than usual. You might not want to pay to get your transmission valve body replaced. However, it is a much better option to pay to fix than to try it yourself and fail with it. It’s something that is best suited for professionals.
Costs For Valve Body Replacement
There is a good reason you might see people with a wrong transmission valve body ignore it or try to repair it on their own because it does not come cheap, especially if you get it done by a transmission specialist.
It takes more than two to three hours, even for the most experienced mechanics, to complete the whole repair from beginning to finish. It can drive up the cost of the repair. Generally, if you are trying to get your transmission valve body replaced, you are looking at at least around $400 to even $850.
It does not just include hundreds of dollars worth of labor, but it also contains parts worth at least $250 to $500. You could have to pay a lot more than that if you happen to have a luxury vehicle such as a Mercedes.
If you really cannot afford the replacement, you could try to go for a remanufactured transmission valve body instead of buying a new one. It is one of the ways you could escape having to pay a significant amount of money for the valve body replacement.
However, even if you go with that option, you should know that the price will still be higher. You have to accept that this is quite an expensive repair job for any vehicle owner. It requires good professional work for the best results and the good overall health of your vehicle.
How To Prevent Transmission Valve Body From Going Bad?
One of the most common reasons for valve body going bad or even broken is due to old lubricant. If you don’t change the lubricant properly, the parts of the transmission valve that are made of metal will wear out due to frictions. It’ll create small pieces of metal that’ll get mixed with the fluid.
To prevent this from happening to your vehicle, you should make sure that you routinely check the transmission fluid level, especially if there are any leaks. You should also check that you are using the right ATF or automatic transmission fluid. Don’t overfill your transmission with too much ATF since it makes your transmission not work correctly.
Facts about Transmission Valve Body
- The transmission valve body is a major component of the transmission, containing valves, passages, and solenoids that divert transmission fluid to where it’s supposed to go.
- The valve body is susceptible to wear and tear, although it doesn’t fail often.
- The valve body routes fluid to specific locations inside the transmission, and it can be made of either cast aluminum or cast iron.
- The valve body in most transmissions is located inside the oil pan at the bottom of the case.
- Valves within the unit open and close to direct transmission fluid to the appropriate area to make gear changes occur.
- There are two main types of valve bodies: the electronic valve body and the hydraulic valve body.
- Symptoms of a bad transmission valve body include harsh or delayed shifts, incorrect up or downshifting, slippage and shift flares, torque converter clutch engagement issues, and an active check engine light.
- Continuing to drive with a bad valve body can cause damage to other parts of the transmission, leading to a bigger repair bill.
- Most professional repair shops choose to replace a valve body rather than rebuild it.
- The cost of replacing a transmission valve body can range from around $100 to $2,500 for parts alone, and the cost of labor can range from around $300 to $1,000.
If you plan on keeping your vehicle for a long time, then you should get your car the best possible repair that it deserves. You will only worsen the health of your car with shabby repair jobs. We hope this helped you understand the importance of valve body replacement if it’s gone bad. Drive safe!