How to Test Solenoid with a Multimeter

A Solenoid is a common electrical component usually made of metal, to generate an electromagnetic field, This guide shows you how to test it with a multimeter.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the process of testing a solenoid with a multimeter. You’ll need a multimeter, needle-nose pliers, and a screwdriver.

Testing a solenoid is not like testing any other electrical component. The solenoid design is such that it is not possible to use the standard testing resistance or continuity methods. Fortunately, you can use an ohmmeter to test other system parts to find out which part has failed.

What is a Solenoid?

A solenoid is an electrical device that converts electrical energy into mechanical energy. It consists of a coil wound around an iron core, which acts as the plunger or piston. When electricity flows through the coil, it creates an electromagnetic field that causes the piston to move in and out, pulling on whatever it is attached to. (1)

testing solenoid using multimeter
Video | Purkeys

Step 1: Set the Multimeter to the Right Function

  • First, set the multimeter to the Ohms setting. The Ohms setting is represented by a Greek Omega symbol. (2)
  • When testing a solenoid with a multimeter, you have to touch the solenoid terminals with the black and red leads of the multimeter.
  • The black lead must be connected to the negative terminal. In contrast, the red lead needs to be connected to the positive terminal.

Step 2: Placing Probes

  • Set the multimeter to its “ohms” setting. The ohms setting allows you to test for continuity. Place the multimeter probes on the solenoid terminals, usually located on top of the solenoid casing.
  • Touch one probe to the terminal marked “S” on the solenoid casing. Touch the other probe to any other terminal.
  • Check the reading on the multimeter display screen for an indication of continuity or a low resistance reading between 0 and 1 ohm. If you get this reading, it means there is no problem with the solenoid.

Step 3: Check Multimeter Readings

If your solenoid is working properly, the voltage reading on your multimeter should be between 12 and 24 volts. If it’s not, there could be a problem with your wiring or a short in your circuit. Make sure it’s getting enough power by hooking up a load — such as an LED — to the solenoid terminals and attaching a multimeter to them. If you’re drawing less than 12 volts, you have a problem with your wiring, which you’ll have to fix by checking the voltage coming out of the circuit board.

You can also use a multimeter to test if your solenoid has been wired correctly. With the solenoid positioned as directed, hold down the trigger and slowly apply a voltage through the terminals. The meter should indicate 12 volts and then slowly drop as the current is drawn from the solenoid. If it doesn’t, make adjustments and try again until it does.

Normal Read But Not Working

Testing a normal read but not working means the resistance is normal, and the relay is energized using a multimeter. This way, we can find out if it is an electronic or mechanical failure. The process is carried out in 3 steps:

Step 1: Check the Resistance of the Solenoid with the Multimeter

Turn on your multimeter and set it to read ohms. Place the positive probe on one terminal and the negative probe on the other terminal. The reading should be near zero, indicating a good connection between the two terminals. If there is a reading, there is a problem with the solenoid.

Step 2: Energize the Solenoid with a Multimeter and Check its Performance

To energize the solenoid, use your multimeter in AC voltage mode to check that there is power going to it when it should be operating. Then use an ammeter (measurement of electrical current) to measure how much current is going through it. These readings can tell you if there’s enough power or if you have a faulty solenoid.

Step 3: Check the Operation of the Solenoid with a Relay

If the solenoid shows a normal reading but does not shift the vehicle, you need to check the operation of the solenoid with a relay. Unplug the electrical connector from the transaxle and connect a jumper wire between pin 1 and pins 2-3. If the solenoid shifts, then the problem is likely to be in a defective relay or wiring.

Test solenoid resistance in all of its circuits. Connect one test lead to one wire on the solenoid and press the other lead to another wire for about five seconds. Check continuity by replacing wires until you reach an open circuit. Repeat this process for each of the three wires in two circuits.

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

(1) electromagnetic field –
(2) Greek Omega symbol –

Video References


AGM Transmission

About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gI realized early on carpentry was a huge passion for me and I’ve stayed in the industry for over 20 years now. This gives me a unique ability to really be able to tell you what the best tools and recommendations are. I’m not only a carpenter but I also like machinery and anything to do with electrics. One of my career paths starting off was as an apprentice electrician so I also have a lot of experience with electrical products and anything related.