Automatic Transmission Pressure Test

Automatic Transmission Pressure Testing

Most transmission cases have test ports to retrieve hydraulic pressure readings for the line, clutch and servo circuits. The transmission’s service manual provides these test port locations. They have bolt like plugs screwed into them. Locate the desired port and screw the pressure fitting in where the plug was. A pressure test will indicate if line pressure is too high or low, or if a clutch or servo is leaking and losing pressure. Perform a pressure test on an automatic transmission when it suffers from hard shifting or poor shift timing.

Before diagnosing and troubleshooting a transmission, the vehicle’s engine must be operating correctly. If the line pressure is low at idle, the pump or pressure relief valve is most likely the problem. Check to see if line pressure increases when the engine is idled up. Electronically controlled transmissions incorporate an electronic pressure control solenoid to control line pressure. The EPC solenoid can be monitored with a scan tool and tested with a multimeter.

Two 400 psi gauges are used to test a hydraulic clutch or servo circuit. Connect one to line pressure and the other to the holding device’s circuit. This way both gauges can be monitored simultaneously. A pressure difference beyond specifications, usually 8-15 psi indicates a leak in the circuit being tested. Check manufacturer's specifications before proceeding.