P0613 – Transmission control module (TCM) -processor error

Reinier

By Reinier (Contact Me)
Last Updated 2017-03-01
Automobile Repair Shop Owner

Trouble CodeFault LocationProbable Cause
P0613 Transmission control module (TCM) -processor error TCM

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What Does Code P0613 Mean?

OBD II fault code P0613 is a generic code that is universally defined as “Transmission control module (TCM) -processor error” on applications with automatic transmissions. Code P0613 is set when the PCM (Powertrain Control Module) or the TCM (Transmission Control Module), or sometimes both, detect a programming error, component failure in the TCM. On almost all applications, this code will set, and a warning light will be illuminated on the first failure, but take note that this code refers specifically to defects in, or failures of, the transmission control module, as opposed to general defects and faults in the transmission itself.

Although the automatic transmissions of a few decades ago functioned quite happily without any sort of computerized control, the combination of modern technologies, ever-more stringent emission regulations, and the increasing demand from consumers to improve the experience of driving, has created the need for more precise control of automatic transmissions in recent years.

While the advent of CVT (Constantly Variable) transmissions has partially addressed some of these needs, CVT technology is not suitable for all applications. Moreover, regular automatic transmissions have reached a very high state of development, and further developments are unlikely to be cost effective for manufacturers.

For these reasons, manufacturers have been developing computerized control systems to control how and when automatic transmissions shift, as well as mechanisms to integrate transmission control systems with the engine management system(s) of their products to produce both an almost seamless shifting pattern, as well as an almost perfect match between the power delivery characteristics of an engine, and the ability of the transmission to transfer the maximum amount of power to the driving wheels while using the least amount of fuel under any given set of operating conditions.

We need not delve into the complexities of the PCM/TCM interface here, but suffice to say that on most modern applications, the interface includes (among others) other control modules such as the ABS control module, fuel control module, stability-, traction-, and cruise control modules that are all inter-connected via the CAN (Controller Area Network) bus system, with the PCM acting as the chief control module through which all communications between affected control modules pass.

An example of CAN bus communications that involves transmission control would be when the traction-, and/or stability control systems detect a measure of wheel spin on a slippery road surface. If the driver should attempt to increase the throttle opening, the request for increased throttle will be passed to all affected control modules, upon which the traction-, and/or stability control module may both limit the throttle opening, or prevent the throttle from responding, in addition to preventing the transmission from shifting down to prevent a dangerous situation, such as a skid,  from which the driver may not be able to recover safely.

However, none of the above is possible without a dedicated transmission control module that is programmed both to recognize input data from all other affected control modules, and to act on complex algorithms that use the input data from other affected control modules to calculate appropriate shifting strategies to ensure that the application can be driven safely and economically under almost all conceivable conditions.

From the above t should be obvious that programming issues or components failure in the TCM can have dramatic effects on the driveability of a vehicle, and in most cases, the application is forced into a fail safe or limp mode when these types of failures occur both to protect the transmission from possible mechanical damage caused by the controller failure, and to reduce the chances of dangerous situations developing due to the loss of effective transmission control.

The image below shows some detail of the type of inputs a typical TCM uses to create the outputs required to control a modern automatic transmission. In this image, inputs are in the blue segments, while outputs are in the red segments.

TCM

What are the common causes of code P0613 ?

Some common causes of P0613 could include the following-

  • Burnt, damaged, shorted, disconnected, or corroded wiring and/or connectors. Note that poor ground connections are a common cause of control module failures.
  • Abnormal system voltages caused by defects in, or malfunctions of parts of the charging system
  • Voltage spikes caused by improper jump starting can damage any controller, including the TCM and PCM
  • Disconnecting the battery to “clear” unrelated codes or to “reset” the PCM can cause almost any controller to lose its programming and/or memory. Sadly, the TCM is often among the first controllers to suffer damage as a result of disconnecting the battery unnecessarily.
  • Corrupted software. This sometimes happens when aftermarket performance settings are programmed into the PCM/TCM

What are the symptoms of code P0613 ?

Apart from a stored trouble code and an illuminated warning light, some common symptoms of P0613 could include the following-

  • Harsh, erratic, or unpredictable shifting
  • Depending on the application, the transmission may not engage some gears, or may not disengage from a particular gear
  • Depending on the application, the transmission may emit mechanical noises
  • Transmission may not shift at all
  • Application may enter a failsafe, or limp mode

How do you troubleshoot code P0613 ?

SPECIAL NOTES: It should be noted that the diagnostic procedure for code P0613 does not extend beyond verifying that a TCM programming fault exists, or that there is some sort of issue in the power and ground circuits pertaining to the TCM.

Repair options are limited to replacing the TCM, or repairing wiring issues that could affect the operation of the TCM, but take note that in some cases, wiring or system voltage issues can cause the TCM to lose some, or all of its programming. END OF SPECIAL NOTES.

NOTE: Diagnosing code P0613 requires a repair manual for the application, a color-coded wiring diagram, and a pin out chart that clearly shows the position of all connectors on the PCM, as well as the precise (numbered) locations of all wiring terminals/pins in connectors that pertain to the PCM. Do NOT attempt a diagnosis of this code if detailed pin out charts are not available, since testing circuits blind in the hope of stumbling upon the problem will almost certainly destroy multiple controllers, as well as large sections of the applications” electrical system.

Step 1

Record all fault codes present, as well as all available freeze frame data. This information can be of use should an intermittent fault be diagnosed later on.

NOTE: Take particular note of other codes (both active and pending) that may be present with P0613, since in most cases, additional codes can point to the possible cause(s) of the TCM failure. Be sure to refer to the manual for detailed information on the possible relationship between P0613 and other codes that may be present. Investigate, and resolve all other codes first before attempting a diagnosis of this code, or replacing the TCM. Failure to do this could lead to misdiagnoses, confusion, and the destruction of the replacement TCM if the possible underlying causes of P0613 are not resolved.

Step 2

Since abnormal system voltages can cause code P0613 (as well as damage to other controllers, including the PCM), follow the directions provided in the manual to test the operation of the charging system to verify either that the system is working as designed, or that a problem in the charging system is present. Note however, that although charging system issues are almost always indicated by dedicated codes, it is possible for the system not to work as designed even if there are no charging system related codes present.

Thus, do NOT assume that the charging system (which includes the battery), is fully functional if there are no charging system related codes present. Test everything that can be tested as per the manufacturers’ instructions, and proceed with the diagnostic procedure for P0613 ONLY when it is certain that all system voltages fall within the manufacturers’ specified ranges.

Step 3

Refer to the manual to locate, and identify the TCM, but note that on many applications, the TCM is an integral part of the PCM, although the TCM component of the PCM has its own dedicated power supply and ground circuits.

If the TCM is separate from the PCM, identify all relevant wiring, and determine the color-coding, function, and routing of all associated wiring before disconnecting any wiring, or testing any part of any circuit. In some cases, it may be necessary to install a memory saving device as per the instructions in the manual to keep critical systems powered up during the next step(s), so be sure to consult the manual on this very important point to prevent damage to other controllers.

Perform a thorough visual inspection of all associated wiring and connectors. Look for damaged, burnt, shorted, disconnected, and corroded wiring and/or connectors, and replace wiring, rather than attempt repairs, to ensure that all electrical values fall within the specified range(s). Clear all codes after repairs are complete, and rescan the system to see if the code returns.

NOTE #1: Pay particular attention to circuits that run through fuses, and circuits that activate relays pertaining to the TCM. Fuses do not have to be visibly blown to affect resistance or continuity, so remove all fuses, and test their continuity/resistance separately from the main circuit to ensure that the problem does not involve a seemingly perfect fuse. Replace all fuses that are suspect, or show signs of discoloration caused by overheating.

NOTE #2: Also, be sure to test all relays that are included in the TCM circuit. Relays often cause intermittent issues, so replace all relays that are suspect, or older than a few years.

Step 4

Assuming that the charging system checks out, that all associated wiring is in perfect condition, and that all prescribed preventive measures have been taken to prevent damage to the application’s electrical system, identify the TCM wiring connector on the PCM if the TCM is part of the controller.

Refer to the relevant wiring diagram in the manual, and follow the manufacturers’ prescribed testing methods to test all wiring for ground connectivity, resistance, and continuity. Note that in some cases, the connector needs to be disconnected from the PCM box to perform these tests, but ONLY disconnect this connector if the manual explicitly states that it must be disconnected.

WARNING: Use extreme caution during this step, since misplacing a multimeter probe even once can cause extensive and sometimes fatal damage to other controllers when circuits are inadvertently shorted out. Make absolutely sure that you know which circuits to test, and that you have at least a basic understanding of which circuits you are testing, but more importantly, why you are testing a particular circuit.  

Compare all obtained readings with the values stated in the manual, and if discrepancies are found, replace wiring, rather than attempt repairs, to ensure that all electrical values fall within the specified range(s). Clear all codes after repairs are complete, and rescan the system to see if the code returns.

Step 5

If the code returns but all electrical values are within specifications, replace the TCM. In cases where the TCM is incorporated into the PCM, replace the PCM.

Note that in almost all cases where control modules are replaced, the replacement modules need to be either programmed, or integrated into the CAN bus system to make it possible for all controllers to recognize the replacement(s).

However, in many cases, reprogramming or integration procedures require professional grade equipment and software that includes ALL the latest updates, fixes, and features. If neither the required equipment, nor the software is available, the wiser option would be to refer the application to the dealer, or other competent repair shop for professional assistance with the reprogramming / integration procedure(s).

Codes Related to P0613

  • P0614 – Relates to “ECM / TCM Incompatible”

NOTE: Although P0614 is not strictly related to P0613, it often happens that the incorrect unit is installed when the TCM/PCM is replaced for whatever reason. Be aware that although these units are often identical in appearance, there are differences in programming between models in a given range, and even between production years of models in a model range.

BAT Team Discussions for P0613

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