6 Symptoms of a Bad Transmission Control Module (TCM)

A transmission control module or TCM is an essential electronic device used on all modern vehicles with automatic transmissions.

The transmission control module collects data from the engine and transmission to shift gears in the transmission.

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If your vehicle’s transmission control module fails, several issues can arise. That’s why a properly functioning transmission control unit is important for your vehicle. Let’s take a look at the signs to look for:

The most common symptom of a faulty TCM is a Check Engine Light or Transmission Failure Warning Light on your dashboard. You may also notice shifts such as unpredictable shifts or no shifts at all. Increased fuel consumption is also a common sign of a bad TCM.

There are a few important things that can happen when your transmission control module fails.

Here is a more detailed list of the 6 most common symptoms of a bad transmission control module.

Bad Transmission Control Module (TCM) Symptoms

1. Check engine light

The most common symptom of a bad transmission control module is a check engine light on the dash.

The engine control module and transmission control module work together. If the engine control module receives a faulty signal from the transmission control module, the Check Engine Light will illuminate.

2. Transmission Error Light

Some cars also have a transmission error light on the dashboard. It is difficult for the transmission control module to know when it has failed, but if another control module, such as the engine control module, is receiving strange data from the TCM, the transmission fault light will come on.

3. Don’t shift at all

Another common problem when dealing with a failed transmission control module is failure to shift. You may park in neutral or park without even trying to shift into first gear or back up. If this happens, it is a sign of a faulty TCM.

You may also notice if your car shifts into first gear and moves forward, but refuses to shift to the next gear.

4. Unpredictable Changes

If your TCM has gone bad, it can do a lot of weird things to the services. You can downshift when you shouldn’t and upshift when you shouldn’t. This can create dangerous situations in traffic, so check as soon as possible if you experience it.

5. Engine stall when shifting

You may also notice that the faulty TCM shifts too early, sometimes causing the engine to stall or almost stall.

This is also a dangerous situation on the road as you could lose control of your vehicle and should be fixed as soon as possible.

6. Low fuel consumption

Low fuel consumption can also occur when the transmission control module fails.

The transmission control module is programmed to shift the gearbox to achieve the best possible fuel economy. If this is not done, there is a risk that your fuel consumption will suffer.

What is the function of the transmission control module?

The transmission control module, or TCM, is an electronic device similar to the ECU or engine control module. However, the functionality of the module differs because the TCU is basically responsible for the correct operation of the transmission and transaxle.

The transmission control unit or module essentially receives information, in the form of sensor data, from a number of different sensors, which is then processed and manipulated to produce specific signals and commands.

These commands are passed on to many other components to ensure proper vehicle operation.

Transmission Control Module (TCM) Location:

The transmission control module is usually located under the center console in your car. It can also be located on the transmission itself.

This is very different depending on which car you have as the transmission control module can be located anywhere in your car.

To locate the exact location of the transmission control module for your particular vehicle model, refer to your vehicle model repair manual or consult your authorized dealer.

Transmission Control Module Replacement Cost:

The average replacement cost for the Transmission Control Module (TCM) is between $250 and $1,250, depending on the car model and labor costs. The average cost of the transmission control module is between $200 and $750 and the labor cost is between $50 and $500.

The cost associated with replacing the transmission control module in your vehicle depends on many factors, including the design and type of your vehicle, the company, and the parts being replaced.

In some vehicles, the transmission control module is even installed in the transmission, creating the problem of having to disassemble it. As you will understand, this can be very expensive.

The other thing to consider is that after the transmission control module has been replaced, it must be programmed by a diagnostic tool. Usually you have to do this in a workshop and nothing that you can do yourself with basic knowledge.

You can try finding a used TCM at the junkyard to cut costs if you think the TCM is baked.

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