The gear shift lever indicators tell you what gear you have an automatic transmission
in on your vehicle. The shift solenoid tells the transmission when to
shift gears and what gear to shift into. Newer model automatic
transmissions have electronic shift solenoids that are activated and
change gears based on the speed the vehicle is traveling.
Troubleshooting either one of these transmission components is
relatively easy if you know a little about automobile mechanics. With
the right tools, you can determine whether the transmission shift
solenoid is having a problem. Gear shift indicator problems can be
determined simply by moving the gears into their designated position.
Transmission Shift Solenoid
Raise each corner of the vehicle
up with the car jack and place jack stands under the frame. Make sure
the car is raised high enough so you can work under the car freely.
Slide the drain pan under the
transmission fluid drain plug. Remove the drain plug with a ratchet and
socket, and let all the fluid drain out of the transmission. Remove the
transmission pan bolts with a ratchet and socket. Pull the pan away from
the bottom of the transmission, revealing the transmission shift
Wipe off the shift solenoid with
a shop towel. Disconnect one of the two plugs that attaches to the
shift solenoid. Turn the knob on the volt meter to the ohms setting, so
resistance can be measured. Set the volt meter on 200.
Take the black lead of the volt
meter and touch the negative battery terminal wire. Take the red lead of
volt meter and slide the tip into the terminal plug you just
disconnected from the shift solenoid. Look at the reading you get on the
digital display of your volt meter. Determine if the reading is between
12 and 25. Readings below 12 or above 25 tell you that the shift
solenoid is not working. Reattach the plug to the shift solenoid and
pull the second plug attached to the solenoid. Perform the same
procedures on this plug wire. Replace the transmission shift solenoid
after determining it is bad.
Gear Shift Indicator
Move the gear shift into the
desired gear. Look at the gear labels and the arrow, or other indicator,
to see if the gear shift indicator lines up with the selected gear.
Move the gear lever to another
gear and look to see if the indicator lines up with the selected gear.
Misalignment of the arrow will tell you if there is a problem. Moving
the gear shift to "neutral" but having the indicator show the transmission is in "drive" tells you the gear shift indicator is not working properly.
Try each gear position to
determine how much misalignment is in the indicator. Slide under the car
and check for a loose gear shift cable. Check all the gear shift cable
connections to ensure they are all tight and are not missing. Tighten
any loose gear shift cable clamps or bolts. Replace the gear shift cable
if you find that this is causing the misalignment with the gear shift