Error Code P0897 is defined as Transmission Fluid Deterioration. This is a generic trouble code, meaning it applies to all vehicles equipped with the OBD-II system, especially those made since 1996 up to present. This code appears in vehicles with transmission fluid temperature sensor. Specifications on the definition, troubleshooting, and repairs, of course, vary from one make and model to another.

Error Code P0897 is set when the PCM determines a lower transmission fluid level than the specified recommendation, which could be harmful to the transmission.

The automatic transmission uses transmission fluid that is continuously in high pressure to switch between gear ratios. If the PCM determines that the current gear ratio is not specified for the vehicle, the code will be stored.

The code-setting parameters vary from one make and model of the vehicle. Thus, it’s important to check the service manual for the right specifications for the vehicle.

Related trouble codes include:

  • Error Code P0710
  • Error Code P0711
  • Error Code P0729
  • Error Code P0730
  • Error Code P0731
  • Error Code P0732
  • Error Code P0733
  • Error Code P0734
  • Error Code P0735
  • Error Code P0736

Common Symptoms

  • Harsh shifting
  • Not shifting in or out of gear
  • Vehicle shakes or shudders
  • Transmission slippage
  • Overheat transmission
  • Increase fuel consumption

In some cases, the vehicle may not show any symptoms at all.

Possible Causes

  • Transmission fluid level is lower than expected
  • Contaminated or dirty transmission fluid
  • Faulty or damaged shift solenoids
  • Faulty or damaged transmission control module
  • Hydraulic blockage in the transmission fluid passages
  • Failed transmission
  • Damaged or defective PCM (rare)

How to Check

First, check the stored code using an OBD-II scanner.

Next, inspect the transmission fluid levels and make sure it’s within the manufacturer’s parameters for the vehicle make and model. Check the fluid’s quality to see if it’s burnt or contaminated and if there’s debris in the transmission pan. Debris in the pan suggests it requires a total transmission rebuild, flushing of fluids, and a need for a new torque converter.

Next, check for burnt or shorted wirings.

Then check the internal transmission harness. Replace if necessary.

Next, check for any leaks in the transmission.

Check the transmission fluid pump pressure using the manual pressure gauge.

Check for signs of damage in the shift solenoid reference and ground signals.

If ground circuits and reference voltage are open, then check for resistance and continuity.

How to Fix

  • Fix damaged, shorted, loose, or open wirings or connectors
  • Replacement of internal transmission harness
  • Repair transmission fluid leaks
  • Clearing of blocked fluid passages
  • Replacement of transmission fluid pump
  • Replacement of shift solenoid or solenoid pack
  • Replacement of electronic pressure regulator

Make sure you clear all the codes, test-drive the vehicle and rescan to see if the code reappears before any repairs.

This code is usually misdiagnosed when the actual cause is transmission failure. Thus, it is best to fully diagnose any codes related to the transmission before making any replacements, especially the shift solenoids.