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Error Code P0961 is defined as Pressure Control Solenoid “A” Control Circuit Range/Performance. 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 the present. This includes vehicles from, but not limited to, Acura, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Land Rover, Nissan, Saturn, etc. Of course, specifications on the definition, troubleshooting, and repairs vary from one make and model to another.
In most cases, vehicles with automatic transmissions incorporate at least three pressure control solenoids (A, B, and C). In addition, new transmissions tend to have more gears and solenoids.
The automatic transmission is controlled by multiple bands and clutches that change gears by getting fluid pressure at the right place at the right time. The job of the transmission pressure control solenoid is to regulate and adjust the fluid pressure to make sure the automatic transmission shifts properly and smoothly. The Powertrain Control Module (PCM) monitors the pressure in the solenoids. It directs fluid to different hydraulic circuits that change the transmission gear ratio into precisely what it needs.
When this code appears, its means the PCM has determined that the “A” pressure control solenoid control circuit is outside of its suggested range for optimum performance.
Other related error codes include:
- Error Code P0960
- Error Code P0962
- Error Code P0963
- Overheating transmission
- Hard shift on transmission (banging into gear)
- Transmission slips when shifting
- Increased fuel consumption
- Misfire-like symptoms (possibly)
- PCM puts the transmission in limp mode
- Faulty pressure control solenoid
- Faulty transmission pump
- Faulty transmission valve body
- Dirty transmission fluid
- Blocked transmission filter
- Blocked hydraulic passages
- Faulty wirings
- Corroded or damaged connectors
- Defective PCM (rare)
How to Check
Before starting the diagnosis process, start researching for the Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) for the specific vehicle (year, model, and transmission). In many cases, this can save you a lot of time by pointing you in the right direction of diagnosis and repair.
Fluid and Wiring Check
First, make sure the fluid level is at the right level and condition. Then, before changing the fluid, check the records of the vehicle, verify the last oil and filter change.
Next, make sure you thoroughly check all wirings. Look for noticeable signs of damage, defects, and wear and tear. Check all the connectors for possible signs of corrosion. Check the damaged pins and security as well. All wires and connectors to the transmission pressure control solenoids must be checked, including the transmission pump.
Based on the vehicle’s specific configuration, the vehicle’s transmission may be driven mechanically or electronically.
Advanced diagnosis largely depends on the specifics of the vehicle and requires special equipment for accurate diagnosis, including multimeter and technical reference specific for the vehicle.
Subsequently, voltage requirements depend on the vehicle’s specific model. Fluid pressure requirements also vary based on the design and configuration of the transmission.
The normal readings for the connections and wirings for the vehicle are at 0 ohms of resistance unless specified in the technical data. Nevertheless, it is always a must to conduct continuity with the power removed from the circuits to avoid shorting the circuit and causing damage. No continuity or resistance means faults in wiring are caused by open or shorted and must be repaired, if not replaced.
How to Fix
Common repairs for this code include:
- Repair or replacement of faulty pressure control solenoid
- Repair or replacement of faulty transmission pump
- Repair or replacement of faulty transmission valve body
- Changing fluid and filter
- Flushing of the transmission to clean the passages
- Cleaning connectors off of corrosions
- Repair or replacement of faulty wires
- Flashing or replacement of PCM
This code is a serious problem and must be addressed as soon as possible to avoid major damage to the transmission.
Possible misdiagnosis for this code includes engine misfire problems, internal transmission problems, transmission pump malfunction, and driveline issues.