Transmission Position Sensor Replacement Cost

Know what price you should pay to get your vehicle fixed.

The average cost for a transmission position sensor replacement is between $153 and $312. Labor costs are estimated between $52 and $200 while parts are priced between $101 and $112. Estimate does not include taxes and fees.
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What is an Automatic Trans Gear Position Sensor?

Automatic transmissions in computer controlled cars and trucks need not only inform the driver what gear they have selected, they must also send this information to several other control modules within the vehicle. This information is ascertained by the automatic transmission gear position sensor. This sensor is responsible for communicating the drive range selected by the driver, whether that be park, reverse, neutral, drive, or one of the lower gear ranges. This should not be confused with what gear the transmission is shifting through, as it only identifies what range has been selected.

How does an Automatic Trans Gear Position Sensor work?

Normally found inside the transmission, the automatic transmission gear position sensor will generally obtain information from the shift shaft by monitoring its movements when the driver changes the selector lever in the vehicle. Once a drive range is selected, the sensor will change outputs, sending information via electrical signal to the reset of the vehicle. FOr instance, placing the vehicle in park or neutral will lead to the powertrain control module understanding that the engine may be started, but it will also wait for the brake light switch before permitting this action. If the vehicle is in drive, reverse, or a lower gear range, the transmission position sensor will prevent the engine from starting, but if the engine is running, it will allow the powertrain control unit to direct the operation of the transmission according to many variables. Also, in reverse, no matter if the vehicle is running or not, the reverse indicator lamps will illuminate because of a signal sent from the automatic transmission position sensor.

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What are the symptoms of a bad Automatic Trans Gear Position Sensor?

When the position sensor fails, the powertrain control module is blind of the gear the driver has selected, so a few things may happen. The engine will likely fail to start. This is because the computer may not know the transmission is in park or neutral. Next, if the transmission position sensor has failed in a manner which allows the vehicle to start, there will likely by one or two gears available, as the transmission control unit will not actuate the shift solenoids due to lack of knowledge of which range has been selected. The operation in this case will be due to mechanically shifting the vehicle only. Lastly, various warning lights are likely to display on the driver instrument cluster, and the transmission may not drive in the range selected. This is a dangerous situation, but is very unlikely.

Can I drive with a bad Automatic Trans Gear Position Sensor?

Most vehicles will become completely useless without a functioning transmission position sensor. Even if the vehicle will drive in safe mode, or limp home mode, the vehicle will be jerky, slow, and consume much fuel. This should be addressed immediately upon noticing there is a problem, especially since driving the vehicle will eventually leave the occupants stranded.

How often do Automatic Trans Gear Position Sensors need replacement?

Automatic transmission position sensors fail semi-frequently. Many will last many years and miles of service, and proper maintenance of the transmission can help to keep the sensor in good operating condition. While most vehicles will go to the salvage yard with the same sensor they left the factory with still intact, these sensors do fail, and they fail at random.

How are Automatic Trans Gear Position Sensor issues diagnosed?

Since this is a computerized system, most of the vehicles which use the position sensor will have an electronic readout on the driver's instrument panel. If the range selected does not result in a change of the display, or id the display is blank or intermittent, the automatic transmission position sensor is automatically suspected of failure. Keeping in mind this may be a fault in the transmission control module, powertrain control module, or wiring harness, a physical inspection will likely be conducted, followed by a scan test to monitor the operation of the position sensor. If the sensor is sending false readings, no readings, or intermittent readings, the sensor harness will be tested physically to read the actual outputs of the automatic transmission position sensor. Also, reference voltage, battery voltage and grounding will be checked as well. I the sensor is receiving proper voltage, but sending erroneous information, the selector shaft sensor will be checked for physical damage and poor connections before declaring the sensor faulty.

How are Automatic Trans Gear Position Sensors replaced?

Many models have begun placing the automatic transmission gear position sensor on the exterior of the transmission, however, there are still very many with the sensor interior of the transmission, connected to the valve body, shift shaft, or both. Let's view the worst case scenario. In some cases, the shift shaft assembly, transmission pan, and even the valve body may need to be removed in order to replace the transmission position sensor. The worst case scenario is that the transmission is drained of fluid, the shift shaft assembly is removed, followed by any obstructions to removing the sensor. This may include the transmission valve body. Once accessed, the sensor can be removed, replaced, and obstructing components replaced as well. The shift shaft will receive a new seal before installation, and the transmission pan, filter, pan gasket, and fluid will be replaced prior to test driving the vehicle.

RepairPal Recommendations for Automatic Trans Gear Position Sensor issues

When servicing a failed automatic transmission gear position sensor, it is highly advised to service the transmission if the maintenance has been lacking. This goes doubly if the transmission gear position sensor is located inside the transmission. When the repair is completed, the sensor will operate as normal, but if contamination was the root cause of the failure, or even suspected, the transmission control unit can benefit from more precise information if the transmission fluid and filter is changed.

What to look out for when dealing with Automatic Trans Gear Position Sensor issues

For a physically damaged internal gear position sensor, the transmission and torque converter should be completely drained of fluid, and a thorough inspection of the transmission should be performed. Also, a follow-up transmission service may be recommended to alleviate concerns of particulate matter from the sensor floating through the gears, bands and clutches of the transmission. Also, confusing the operation of the gear position sensor to mean that it reads the current gear the transmission is in would be a mistake. The transmission knows which gear it is in by the actuation of the shift control solenoids, and this sensor only specifies in which range the transmission is permitted to operate.

Can I replace the Automatic Trans Gear Position Sensor myself?

When the transmission gear position sensor is on the exterior of the transmission housing, replacement is a snap, and there is really no qualification needed to replace this simple part. However, internally mounted transmission position sensors should only be replaced by an experienced DIYer or a professional technician. There are many components that may be damaged while inside the transmission oil pan, especially if the valve body must be removed. If it involves removing the transmission oil pan, consider having a reputable certified shop handle the repair.

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