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P0784 OBD-II Trouble Code: 4-5 Shift Malfunction

Check Engine Light

P0784 code definition

When the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) detects a malfunction in the 4-5 shift function, a P0784 trouble code is stored and the Check Engine Light illuminates. An error in the 4-5 shift function indicates a discrepancy in the gear ratio, which helps determine how fast or slow a vehicle can go in any particular gear. The gear ratio also helps the vehicle engine perform at peak efficiency and assists with the optimization of fuel use.

Some other related trouble codes include P0780, P0781, P0782, P0783, P0785, P0786, P0787, P0788, and P0789.

What the P0784 code means

Using vehicle and engine speed, engine load, and throttle position, the vehicle computer calculates the desired gear ratio. If there is a difference in the actual gear ratio produced, the PCM stores a P0784 trouble code. Mechanics should keep in mind that even though a vehicle's PCM stores a P0784 trouble code, some models of vehicles require multiple failure cycles before the Check Engine light illuminates.

What causes the P0784 code?

In addition to a possibly faulty PCM or Transmission Control Module (TCM), some other causes of a P0784 trouble code include blockage in the fluid passages of the transmission, mechanical failure of the transmission, a bad shift solenoid, and low or dirty transmission fluid.

What are the symptoms of the P0784 code?

Symptoms of a P0784 trouble code range from harsh shifting, transmission slippage, and trouble shifting into a particular gear. Additionally, the transmission can overheat, the vehicle's fuel efficiency can suffer, or, in some cases, vehicle owners might not detect any symptoms at all.

How does a mechanic diagnose the P0784 code?

To properly diagnose a P0784 trouble code, a mechanic needs an advanced scanner, manual pressure gauge, hydraulic pressure diagram, and a digital volt/ohmmeter. The mechanic also needs to perform the following during the diagnostic:

  • The mechanic should first inspect the transmission fluid. They are looking for abnormal looking or smelling fluid.

  • If the fluid smells burned or looks strange, the mechanic should remove the transmission pan and look for clutch material or other debris. The presence of debris indicates that the mechanic needs to rebuild the transmission and replace the torque converter.

  • Next, after rebuilding the transmission if needed, the mechanic should fill it with enough fluid to locate and fix any leaks present.

  • The mechanic should also examine any related wiring, connectors, and components for damage.

  • Finally, the mechanic should fill the transmission fluid to a normal level, clear the P0764 trouble code, and start the vehicle, allowing it to reach a normal operating temperature before taking a test drive to see if the code returns.

  • If the code returns, download the freeze frame data and any stored codes before testing the system further.

  • The mechanic should next use a manual pressure pump and a hydraulic pressure diagram to test the pressure of the hydraulic pump. They should compare their findings to the manufacturer's specifications.

  • If the pump checks out as OK, the mechanic should check the reference voltage and ground signal of the faulty shift solenoid.

  • If the voltage or ground comes up as open, the mechanic should disconnect any related modules to prevent damage and check for continuity and resistance using the volt/ohmmeter.

  • If the P0784 trouble code returns after clearing the code and retesting the system, then the mechanic should examine the PCM for fault.

  • After making all of the necessary repairs, the mechanic should clear the trouble code and test the system to see if it returns.

Common mistakes when diagnosing the P0784 code

The most common error by a mechanic diagnosing a P0784 trouble code is to misdiagnose the cause as a faulty shift solenoid circuit. Replacement of this part results in the problem remaining and the trouble code returning.

How serious is the P0784 code?

Seriousness of a P0784 trouble code ranges from no problems at all to the inability to shift into specific gears. Other problems encountered when a P0784 trouble code is stored is a reduction in fuel efficiency and overall transmission problems, such as slipping, overheating, and harsh shifting.

What repairs can fix the P0784 code?

Repairing a P0784 trouble code requires the mechanic to do the following:

  • First, rebuild the transmission if needed. This includes installing a new torque converter as well.

  • Replace any shorted, burned, corroded, or otherwise damaged wiring, connectors, or components.

  • Replace the hydraulic pump if necessary. This requires the removal and partial disassembling of the transmission on the part of the mechanic.

  • Replace the shift solenoid if it is faulty.

  • While not commonly at fault, replace the PCM if it is bad. This requires the mechanic to reprogram the PCM once installed.

Need help with a P0784 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
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