The shift solenoid is an integral part of your Honda Civic’s transmission and is essential to your vehicle’s shift points and drivability. When your shift solenoids begin to experience problems, you may have a OBDII check engine light or a TCS light that may turn on in your instrument cluster.
We’ll be showing you how to test a Civic Shift Solenoid in a 1996 Honda Civic EX, but the procedure is the same for 1996-2000 DX, LX, and CX models. Although these instructions are just slightly different for the 1992-1995 Honda Civic, the 2001+ Honda Civics are just a bit different when it comes to the shift solenoid.
The term shift solenoid actually refers to the shift solenoid assemblies found on your 1.6 liter transmission. When these solenoids wear or break down, your transmission will not shift properly. Other symptoms may include harsh engagement, long shift points and your car not shifting fast enough.
There are two specific tests we will be using to test both shift solenoids in your Honda Civic. The first of which includes testing the resistance between the terminals on your shift solenoid connector, and the other is sending power to the solenoids themselves.
First locate your shift solenoids, which should be under the front radiator hose mounted near the headers on your 1996-2000 Honda Civic SOHC.
To access the wiring connectors to your Honda Civic shift solenoid however, you must first unplug your upstream oxygen sensor and your coolant temperature sender.
Disconnect your upstream 02 sensor connector, shown here and move it to the side so you can gain room.
Disconnect the temp sender here to give you access to the rear 10mm bolt that holds the Honda Civic Shift solenoid on.
Here you see the two wire shift solenoid connector, pull up on the back of this unit and depress the clip to pull this connector off.
After pulling up on this bracket and depressing the clip, you can pull off this entire wiring harness as a whole. Then depress the connector clip to pull apart this shift solenoid harness.
With your Honda Civic shift solenoid connector unplugged, you can now being our How To test a Honda Civic Shift solenoid guide. Take your voltmeter and measure the resistance at terminal A and terminal B of your Honda Civic Shift solenoid connector by using the chassis ground.
Using the power probe of your multimeter to check terminal A and B while grounding on the transmission should net you a solid resistance reading.
To test shift solenoid 1, measure the resistance between terminal labeled with the #1, and a vehicle ground. You may use the battery if your ground seems poor or there isn’t enough wire for you to reach. Shift solenoid 2 can be tested at the terminal labeled 2.
You should see a range of 14-25 Ω at each one these two pins on the shift solenoid harness. If you read this value then your shift solenoid checks out. Move onto the voltage test where we will be sending 12volts to the pins to see if the solenoids still click over.
If your solenoid’s resistance range falls outside these measurements, then you are in need of a replacement shift solenoid. Remove the 10mm bolts circled here, and gently remove this unit to replace. Or check out our How To Service your Honda Civic Shift solenoid article shortly.
Powering your Shift Solenoid
The second part of our how to test a Honda Civic shift solenoid is powering the solenoids to hear for activity. To do this however, you may need a special tool to send power to any wire you wish. Using a tool like our handy Power Probe allows us to send ground or switched 12v power to any wire at any time.
If you do not have a power capable probe of this kind, you can use a wire with a inline fuse to send power to one of these wires. Make sure to use an inline fuse as you do not to damage any fuses or relays connected to your engine harness.
Now go back to the shift solenoid wiring harness, NOT THE ENGINE HARNESS SIDE but rather the short connectors that run 2 wires to your actual solenoids. Send 12v to terminal 1 on the harness side and listen for the actuators to click open and shut. Repeat for terminal 2 and listen, if you hear the solenoids they may be worn.
Remember, you are NOT sending power directly back into your engine harness and back to your ECU. Doing this may damage or cause premature failure from your relays, fuses, or PCM. You are testing the shift solenoid side of the harness and sending 12volts directly to the solenoids themselves.
If you can not hear anything from both Honda Civic shift solenoid 1 and 2 while testing, then your solenoid unit is bad and must be replaced.
However in the event that sending 12volts to both solenoids DOES indeed get them to click and open correctly, and the trouble code still comes up, you may need to replace the solenoids due to a lazy valve or leaky seals.
That does it for our How To Test a Honda Civic Shift solenoid article, please let us know if you have any questions or comments below.