Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. P0731 OBD-II Trouble Code: Gear 1 Incorrect Ratio

P0731 OBD-II Trouble Code: Gear 1 Incorrect Ratio

Check Engine Light

P0731 code definition

When the automatic transmission in a vehicle cannot shift into first gear, the PCM (powertrain control module) will detect and store a P0731 code, and the Check Engine light will illuminate.

What the P0731 code means

An automatic transmission is designed to detect the driver’s acceleration and deceleration patterns, and to use that information to match the engine’s best torque and power characteristics to select the appropriate gear. The P0731 code occurs when the PCM detects a discrepancy between the speeds of first gear’s input RPM sensor and transmission output RPM sensor. As a result, the vehicle cannot shift into first gear, and it could indicate that the transmission is slipping.

What causes the P0731 code?

A number of scenarios can lead to a P0731 code being detected and stored. These include:

  • Insufficient or contaminated transmission fluid
  • A defective shift solenoid
  • A mechanical problem or blockage within the transmission
  • A defective transmission control module (TCM)
  • A shorted or open transmission control circuit

What are the symptoms of the P0731 code?

In addition to the Check Engine light coming on, drivers may notice a few other symptoms:

  • Inability to start the vehicle in first gear.
  • Slipping transmission
  • Lack of acceleration
  • Decrease in fuel efficiency
  • Inefficient or incorrect shifting

How does a mechanic diagnose the P0731 code?

After identifying the P0731 code with an OBD-II scanner, the mechanic will first check the level and quality of the transmission fluid. If the fluid is low, they will add more and retest the system. If the transmission fluid appears dirty or contaminated, and/or it smells burnt, the mechanic will flush the system, change the transmission fluid, clear the code, and retest once more.

They will then move on to inspect and test the transmission for internal mechanical problems, circuit problems, and issues with the shift solenoid. After each repair, they will clear all codes and retest the vehicle to see if the P0731 code appears again.

Common mistakes when diagnosing the P0731 code

The P0731 code is often misdiagnosed as an engine misfiring issue or a problem with the vehicle’s driveline. If the system is not thoroughly inspected and diagnosed, it can also look like an internal transmission problem when it’s actually a much simpler and less expensive issue.

How serious is the P0731 code?

If your transmission is unable to shift into or out of first gear, the vehicle can become inoperable in very short order. Symptoms may worsen as you continue to drive without resolving the P0731 code, and this can lead to dangerous driving situations, such as being unable to accelerate to get out of the way of oncoming traffic.

What repairs can fix the P0731 code?

Some of the most common repairs to resolve a P0731 code include:

  • Adding more transmission fluid or changing the transmission fluid.
  • Replacing a defective shift solenoid.
  • Replacing or reprogramming a defective TCM.
  • Replacing wiring and/or connectors for a damaged transmission control circuit.

Additional comments for consideration regarding the P0731 code

A detected P0731 code is a serious issue that should be resolved as soon as possible, even if the vehicle is still driving relatively normally. Failure to shift into first gear can result in a number of other transmission problems, and if the problem is caused by a slipping transmission, further shifting problems can be expected soon if this one isn’t dealt with.

In addition to making the car unreliable and/or unsafe to drive, a P0731 code will always be accompanied by a Check Engine light. An Illuminated Check Engine light will prevent your vehicle from passing an OBD-II emissions test, so it’s essential that you get the problem resolved before you need to pass an emissions test to renew your vehicle’s registration.

Need help with a P0731 code?

YourMechanic offers certified mobile mechanics who will come to your home or office to diagnose and repair your vehicle. Get a quote and book an appointment online or speak to a service advisor at 1-800-701-6230.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in New Mexico
The state of New Mexico offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
Auto Safety Tips
Driving is more than a way to get from point A to point B. Owning and driving a car can also be a highly enjoyable experience. Whether a person is driving...

Related questions

Q: Code P02A9 Cylinder 4 Balance-Fuel Trim at Limit

The code definition specifically indicates the number four fuel injector is leaking. Fuel trims are used to indicate how much the PCM (powertrain control module) needs to adjust the fuel duty cycle to maintain the proper air fuel ratio. Duty...

Q: PO153 02 circut low response bank2 sensor 1 What does this mean?

Hi There. Thanks for contacting us tonight. The P0153 trouble code is an indication that the oxygen sensor is not properly regulating the fuel and oxygen levels. The oxygen sensor voltage switches between high voltage (fuel) and low voltage (air)...

Q: I had the catalyst converter replaced last year. Now the Check Engine Light is on again for O2 sensor. What do I do?

You may want to have a professional inspect the catalytic converter. When the Check Engine Light comes on for this, it does not necessarily mean that the catalytic converter has failed. This may be related to many other things as...