What Does Engine Code P0961 Mean?

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If your car is showing the P0961 engine code, it indicates that there is an electrical issue with the line pressure control module that regulates transmission fluid line pressure. 
Specifically, engine code P0961 refers to the Pressure Control Solenoid ‘A’ Control Circuit Range—an electronic pressure regulator which regulates the oil pump discharge pressure in response to signals sent from the Transmission Control Module (TCM.)
In layman's terms, this engine code applies to cars with automatic transmissions that use valves called pressure control solenoids to automatically adjust the fluid pressure of your transmission, allowing your car to shift gears smoothly. Most vehicles incorporate at least three pressure control solenoid circuits (A, B, and C), but newer vehicles may have more.
Engine code P0961 appears when the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) has detected that the ‘A’ solenoid control circuit is functioning outside of the normal range as set by the auto manufacturer. 
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. In this article, we’re breaking down the P0961 engine code: what it means, how to deal with it, and how much it costs to fix. 
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What does the engine code P0961 mean?

Definition: The Engine Control Module (ECM) has detected an issue with the Pressure Control Solenoid Valve, an electronic pressure regulator that controls transmission line pressure based on current flow through its coil windings.
The function of the Pressure Control Solenoid Valve is to regulate oil pump discharge pressure in response to signals sent by the Transmission Control Module.
The Transmission Control Module on an automatic transmission sends these signals in response to increases and decreases in speed, allowing the transmission to change gears smoothly. 
As electricity flow increases through the Pressure Control Solenoid ‘A’ Control Circuit Range, the magnetic field moves the solenoid plunger away from the exhaust port. This decreases the output fluid pressure created by the PC Solenoid Valve, thus decreasing the line pressure. Engine code P0961 indicates a malfunction of this process has occurred. 

How much will it cost to fix?

While the repair diagnosis time and labor rates vary by location, engine type, and vehicle make and model, most auto repair shops charge somewhere between $75 to $150 per hour. Diagnosing a P0961 code will require one hour of labor. 

What can cause the P0961 engine code?

If engine code P0961 appears for your vehicle, this means that irregular electrical activity with the ‘A’ pressure control solenoid control circuit has been detected. 
Potential issues that could cause this engine code include:
  • Faulty pressure control within solenoid 'A'.
  • The Pressure Control Solenoid 'A' harness has been opened or shorted
  • There is a poor electrical connection or faulty wiring within the Pressure Control Solenoid 'A' circuit
  • Corroded or damaged connectors 
  • Transmission maintenance issues such as dirty transmission fluid, a blocked transmission filter, or blocked hydraulic passages.

Common symptoms of the P0961 engine code

The easiest and most obvious symptoms of the P0961 engine code are the engine light on or the Service Engine Soon Warning Light. 
Other potential signs to watch for include: 
  • Overheating of the transmission
  • Transmission slips or hard, jerky misfire-like symptoms when shifting into gear  
  • Poor fuel economy caused by increased fuel consumption.
  • Misfire-like symptoms (possibly)
  • Transmission going into “limp mode,” a power-saving safety mechanism that causes nonessential features such as air conditioning to switch off, and a reduction in speed

How serious is the P0961 engine code? 

This code is a serious problem, but If addressed within a timely manner, the severity of this malfunction is moderate. Continued malfunction over time however can cause permanent, extremely costly damage to the transmission. 

Can I fix the P0961 engine code myself?

It is recommended that the P0916 engine code be diagnosed as soon as possible by an experienced mechanic. 
The issues associated with a P0961 engine code can easily be misdiagnosed as other internal engine and transmission problems, so it is important to get an accurate diagnosis of this engine code from someone with access to advanced technical knowledge of the make and model of the vehicle, advanced transmission knowledge, and specialized equipment.  
A visual assessment of a P0961 engine code may require you to: 
  • Verify your last oil and filter change 
  • Check fluid levels and conditions 
  • Thoroughly inspect all wiring and connectors to the transmission control pump for signs of corrosion and defects 
  • Identify any corroded or damaged connector's pins

Possible repairs for a P0916 engine code

An accurate diagnosis for the cause of a P09016 engine code will determine the next steps in the repair process. Possible common repairs include:
  • Repairing or replacing the solenoid, transmission pump, transmission valve body, wires, or the entire PCM
  • Changing the transmission fluid 
  • Flushing the transmission 
  • Cleaning corrosions off of connectors 

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