How to Reset Dodge Transmission Control Module

Resetting a Dodge Transmission Control Module (A How-To Guide)

When it feels like your Dodge transmission is half-asleep as the light turns green or when overtaking a truck three times your car’s length, then it’s probably time for a TCM reset.

But how do you exactly reset a Dodge TCM? Well based on our expertise in these things, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or even your run-of-the-mill repair guy to pull it off.

Having said that, there are still a couple of “methods” to follow to get your TCM back to the way it was before, so start taking notes!

How do you reset a Dodge transmission control module (TCM)?

To reset the transmission control module (TCM) on a Dodge, you can disconnect the battery for an hour and reconnect it again.

Another way to reset a Dodge TCM is to turn the ignition key to turn on the electronics only, push the gas pedal all the way, and then turn the key to the “off” position.

Resetting a transmission control module (TCM) on a Dodge is very similar to how it’s done in any other vehicle.

If you have a vehicle equipped with an automatic transmission, then resetting its TCM will most likely involve performing a specific pattern of turning the key in the ignition switch and pushing the gas pedal for a certain amount of time.

However, since the TCM is an electronic device, after all, disconnecting the battery will also turn off and reset the module as with the rest of the electronics.

A modern automatic vehicle’s TCM stores all sorts of data regarding your driving inputs over miles and miles of being behind the wheel, so resetting it will allow it to relearn and adjust how the transmission performs gearshifts.

What are the different methods to reset a Dodge transmission control module?

The first method to reset a Dodge transmission control module is to disconnect the battery for about one hour and then reconnect it again.

The second method to reset a Dodge TCM is to turn the key to power the electronics only, then push the gas pedal to the floor and turn the ignition off.

1st Method (Disconnecting the Battery)

1st Method (Disconnecting the Battery)

The first and more straightforward method to reset a TCM on a Dodge vehicle is to disconnect its battery for about one hour. Be sure to remove the negative cable first before the positive cable.

Disconnecting the battery cables will allow the vehicle’s main computer (ECU) to reset. As a result of this, data stored within the TCM will also be returned to the default settings.

To give a bit of a disclaimer, this method of disconnecting the battery may not exactly work in every single vehicle out there. 

Depending on the specific model, simply removing the battery cables may not necessarily reset or only partially reset the learned parameters inside the transmission control module (TCM).

In some cases, you may have to scan the transmission using a diagnostic tool to complete the reset, and we recommend asking a mechanic for help with that. Other than that, you can also try the second method below.

2nd Method (Ignition Key and Gas Pedal)

2nd Method (Ignition Key and Gas Pedal)

The second method to resetting a transmission control module on a Dodge requires you to follow a specific pattern of turning the key in the ignition and stepping on the gas.

How to Reset Dodge TCM Using Ignition and Gas Pedal:
Turn the key into the ignition “ON” position so that all of the lights and electronics on the dash turn on but not the engine.
Push/depress the gas pedal all the way to the floor then turn the key into the “OFF” position.
Take your foot off the gas pedal and wait for about 5 minutes without touching any of the electronics.
Turn the key to the “ON” position to finish the reset and allow the TCM to relearn and adapt to your current driving.

After doing the steps above, you should have successfully reset the TCM on your Dodge, which means that all of the parameters that were previously stored inside it have now been set to their default settings.

At this point, you can start driving around for the “relearning” process, meaning the TCM will have a chance to adapt to your current driving habits, such as how hard you step on the gas on average.

What is a transmission control module (TCM)?

A transmission control module (TCM) or transmission control unit (TCU) is an electronic device that is responsible for controlling automatic transmission systems.

The transmission control module uses sensors to monitor the speed, throttle input, and other parameters to shift at the most optimum time.

Imagine that a transmission control module (TCM) is like your car’s main ECU (electronic control unit), except it’s solely for the automatic transmission system.

Just like the ECU or any other electronic module on a vehicle, the TCM relies on different sensors in order to gauge how and when to engage a different gear.

The TCM adjusts depending on the driving situation, which is why you may notice that stepping harder on the gas may allow slightly quicker shifts to occur at higher RPMs while cruising at a leisurely pace only leads to slower and earlier shifts.

In the same vein, the TCM also affects your vehicle’s fuel economy, which means that flooring the gas pedal will delay the gear shift up until the higher RPMs for optimum performance, but at the same time would naturally consume more fuel.

How does a transmission control module (TCM) work?

A transmission control module determines the timing of a gearshift depending on the signals it receives from any of the sensors in the engine and transmission.

Once the TCM receives signals, it will send its own signals to the transmission and tell which gear it should be in based on the conditions.

Input Parameters and Sensors

Input Parameters and Sensors

Transmission control modules (TCMs) operate under many different input parameters provided by sensors in the engine and transmission, which in turn allow TCMs to calculate the optimum gear that the transmission should be in.

Such input parameters are based on the specific sensor in question. For example, a vehicle speed sensor (VSS) feeds info to the TCM about the current speed of a vehicle.

Another common source of input for TCMs would be the throttle position sensor, which as its name suggests, detects the current position of the throttle or gas pedal and whether you’re even stepping on it or not.

Together with the vehicle speed sensor, the throttle position sensor adds another layer of consideration for the TCM in calculating the correct gear to be in and when to shift to that gear.

It’s very common for TCMs to use both the vehicle speed sensor (VSS) and the throttle position sensor (TPS) as their main source of input parameters, but depending on the vehicle, there can be many other additional sensors that feed even more data.

Some of these sensors include the turbine speed sensor, transmission fluid temperature sensor, and even the cruise control module on vehicles equipped with modern cruise control systems.

Output Parameters

Output Parameters

After the TCM has received signals or input parameters from the different sensors, it then sends its own signals or “output parameters” to the ECU and different solenoids and controllers in the transmission to actually perform the gearshift.

The solenoids that are typically on the receiving end of the TCM’s signals include the shift solenoid, torque converter clutch solenoid, and pressure control solenoid.

As for other controllers that can receive the TCM’s signals, we can actually include the cruise control module again for this one. 

For instance, if you were to select a neutral gear while cruise control is active, the TCM would send a signal to the cruise control module telling it to deactivate.

The TCM can even send a signal to trigger the malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) on the vehicle’s dashboard or gauge cluster if it ever detects that there is an issue with the transmission system.

What are the symptoms of a bad transmission control module (TCM) failure?

Common symptoms of a bad transmission control module include difficulty shifting into higher gears, being stuck in one gear, slow or delayed shifting, and reduced fuel economy.

If your transmission control module is acting up and causing different kinds of issues, then that’s a good reason to either reset, repair, or replace it.

We’ve already highlighted above what these issues or “symptoms” exactly are, but to further understand how a TCM failure actually causes them, let’s dive into each of them below.

Difficulty Shifting Into Higher Gears

Difficulty Shifting Into Higher Gears

Transmission control modules or “TCMs” control many different functions or operations within a vehicle’s automatic transmission system, so once it goes bye-bye, you may notice that it struggles to shift the transmission into higher gears.

The TCM tells the transmission to shift at a certain RPM depending on things such as how hard you’re stepping on the gas or your vehicle’s current speed, but a bad TCM may allow the engine RPM to keep climbing instead of shifting right away.

Stuck in One Gear

In line with having a hard time shifting into higher gears, a bad transmission control module (TCM) may completely prevent you from getting out of the current gear that’s engaged.

This means that if you were to be stuck in 1st gear, you would eventually hit the engine’s rev limiter and thus would not be able to drive any faster than what 1st gear allows.

If you were to be stuck in one of the higher gears, then you may be able to go faster. However, upon slowing down or coming to a dead stop, the engine will struggle more to raise the revs and remain in the powerband, resulting in slower acceleration.

Slow or Delayed Shifting

Another common symptom of a bad TCM that’s worth looking out for is slower or delayed shifting, which will be a lot more obvious while you’re accelerating up to speed.

You may notice that your transmission takes a split second more to actually perform a shift, which means that the engine may freely rev for a bit before actually engaging the next gear.

In cases like these, you could say that the transmission feels like it’s slipping instead of doing a quick and smooth shift into the next gear.

It’s also important to mention that delayed shifting can also happen during downshifts. 

Imagine a scenario wherein you have to step on the gas harder to overtake another car, but the engine stays at a low RPM because the transmission takes too long to downshift.

So as you can see, a bad TCM that causes delays in shifting can significantly affect your vehicle’s acceleration performance, and it could potentially not let the transmission shift whenever you need it the most. 

Reduced Fuel Economy

Reduced Fuel Economy

Every other symptom of a bad transmission control module that we’ve discussed so far also ties into the fact that your vehicle’s fuel economy will inevitably become affected.

For starters, all of the extra unnecessary load on the engine brought about by the previously mentioned issues in shifting and accelerating will consume more gas than if you were to have a normal functioning TCM.

We can see this in the case of when the transmission struggles to shift into higher gears. Instead of shifting at the most optimal time, the faulty TCM prevents the transmission from shifting up and allows the engine RPMs to climb higher than usual.

Of course, if the engine is operating at higher RPMs for even a second longer without the transmission shifting up, then it’s naturally going to demand more fuel to produce more power at that point.

What are the causes of transmission control module (TCM) failure?

What are the causes of transmission control module (TCM) failure

A transmission control module can fail due to causes such as a faulty solenoid, exposure to excessive heat, faulty electrical wiring, and voltage redirecting into the TCM circuit board.

Even if you’ve successfully reset your TCM, this doesn’t automatically mean that any underlying issues that caused it to go bad will just magically disappear.

Hence, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for the following causes of a bad or failed TCM below so you don’t end up breaking the replacement module later on as well.

Faulty TCM Circuit Board Solenoid

A transmission control module (TCM) contains a solenoid that’s part of its own circuit board, and if anything goes wrong with the solenoid and its connections, it can immediately cause the entire TCM to fail as well.

Since this is a fairly common reason for a TCM to fail, it’s worth checking the TCM circuit board for any loose connections to make sure the solenoid functions properly.

Exposure to Excessive Heat

It doesn’t come as a surprise that TCMs are exposed to heat generated by the engine and other mechanical parts under the hood, though exposure to too much heat can melt through TCM’s circuit board and cause it to fail.

Depending on the specific vehicle model that you have, your TCM may be more prone to overheating, so you would have to ask a mechanic if it’s possible to relocate it to a cooler spot within the engine bay.

Faulty Electrical Wiring

Faulty wirings for the TCM are also another common reason why it suddenly fails, as these wires may get damaged or loose over time and impede the normal flow of electric current to and from the TCM.

Voltage Redirects into TCM Circuit Board

Like any other circuit board, the TCM’s circuit board can only support voltage up to a certain amount, so if additional voltage suddenly gets redirected into it, the TCM itself can get damaged and fail. 

One instance of this can happen whenever a vehicle’s “soft starter” fails to limit the amount of voltage when first starting the engine. 

This may allow movement in the transmission during initial startup, resulting in a surge of voltage to the many integrated circuits (ICs) of the TCM.

Is it okay to drive with a bad transmission control module?

It’s not okay nor is it safe to drive with a bad transmission control module since it can affect your transmission’s ability to shift properly, which puts you in risky situations while driving.

Always get a bad TCM checked right away for repairs or a replacement before it causes more serious issues.

A transmission control module is responsible for many operations that make shifting an automatic transmission possible, so the longer you drive with a faulty one, the more you risk your safety while driving.

Not only that, but you’ll also be putting an even bigger dent in your wallet if the bad TCM ends up causing even more expensive damage to various transmission system components. 

How do you reprogram a Dodge TCM?

To reprogram a Dodge TCM, you need to first reset it, which will allow it to relearn and adapt to all of your current driving habits.

You can either disconnect your Dodge’s battery for an hour or turn the key to activate the car’s electronics only, push the gas pedal, and turn the ignition off again.

How much does it cost to replace a Dodge transmission control module?

How much does it cost to replace a Dodge transmission control module

A Dodge transmission control module (TCM) can cost between $68 and $646 in parts, while labor costs can add from $50 to over $200 on top of that.

Total costs for a Dodge TCM replacement will vary depending on the vehicle model, TCM model, and whether or not you can do it yourself.

Replacing a transmission control module on a Dodge can already be quite pricey depending on the exact vehicle that you have and the specific TCM that you go for.

However, you can significantly reduce the total costs if you are able to properly replace it yourself instead of taking it to a mechanic.

The sooner that you can fix or replace a bad transmission control module, the better off your entire transmission system is going to be, which definitely isn’t cheap to replace by any stretch of the imagination.

How much does it cost to replace a Dodge transmission?

Replacing a Dodge transmission system can cost between $800 and $1,200 in parts alone, though if you also include labor costs from a mechanic, it can cost as much as $3,400 in total.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)