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How Much Does a Mechatronic Unit Cost?

CarPart  ·  April 18, 2022

How Much Does a Mechatronic Unit Cost?

Most cars on the market use standard parts that are easily recognisable. Still, some vehicles use more complex and exotic components, like various Audi and Volkswagen models and their mechatronic units. In short, these units are computerised elements in dual-clutch gear transmissions.

A new mechatronic unit can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, and maybe even more, depending primarily on your car’s brand and model. Fortunately, it’s not always necessary to replace a bad mechatronic unit if you can find a qualified technician to repair it.

Mechatronic units are complex, but this guide will help you understand all the basics. You’ll learn how it works, possible problems with mechatronics, and the cost to replace it if you need to.

What Does a Mechatronic Unit Do?

Buying a new mechatronic unit will cost you a pretty penny, as they’re relatively more expensive than other spare parts. So, you’ll want to know what the unit does and why it’s wise not to delay that purchase.

You can think of a mechatronic unit as the brain or control centre of a vehicle's gearbox. It's an electronic component that manages the gearbox's torque converter and clutch packs. The unit does so by controlling the transmission fluid at specific pressure levels.

Parts of a Mechatronic Unit

A standard mechatronic unit has three parts:

  1. A control unit: Collects data using speed, temperature, and pressure sensors for analysis. The unit then analyses that data to decide on optimal gear changing.
  2. Several solenoids: These are electrohydraulic valves. Essentially, these are the moving parts of the mechatronic unit. They manage the hydraulic valves in a valve body by controlling the flow of transmission fluid at specific pressures.
  3. A valve body: This part is responsible for managing the fluid flow to the gearbox and torque converter.

Some readers might wonder why they’ve never heard of a mechatronic unit before. Well, that’s because you’ll only find these units on cars with a dual-clutch system. 

Several car brands and models feature that system these days. Still, the most well-known brands to feature them are Volkswagen and Audi in particular.

As you might imagine, mechatronic units are computerised and quite complex. So, troubleshooting or replacing them can be costly, especially with the specialised skills required.

Why Do Mechatronic Units Fail?

Unfortunately, even the best mechatronic unit VW or Audi cars have can fail, requiring you to buy a new one.

Here are some of the typical reasons that a mechatronic unit stops working:

#1 Incorrect Solenoid Operation

As mentioned earlier, the solenoids are crucial moving parts of the mechatronic unit. One of the most common failures happens when one or more of those solenoids stops moving as they should.

A solenoid issue like that can undermine the overall function of the mechatronic unit.

#2 Solid Particles in Fluid

The mechatronic unit manages the flow of transmission fluid. Like any other kind of automotive fluid, contamination with solid particles is bad news.

For starters, contaminated fluid suggests excessive wear and possibly damage somewhere inside the mechatronic unit. Secondly, the solid particles in the fluid can cause clogs and restrict it from flowing as necessary.

#3 Faulty Sensors or Incorrect Data

The mechatronic unit functions based on its data through speed, temperature, and pressure sensors. So, if yours fails to work correctly, it’s likely because one or more of those sensors has become faulty.

A faulty sensor might send incorrect data to the control unit, or it might not send any data at all. In both cases, the mechatronic unit can’t function without functioning sensors.

#4 Electronic Components Damaged

The mainboard of the mechatronic unit also relies on several electronic components. When any of them suffer damage or become faulty, that, too, can prevent the unit from working correctly.

For instance, damaged components can prevent the mainboard from sending and receiving signals from its other components.

#5 Software Errors

As you know, the mechatronic unit has a brain of its own. More specifically, the unit has an onboard gear changing program that could suffer from errors and glitches just like any other piece of software.

#6 Worn Out Valves and Valve Seats

Excessive wear on the valves and valve seats could affect the overall mechatronic unit. For instance, you might find gaps between the valves and the valve seats. Besides that, the foreign solid particles mentioned in #2 can also affect this part of the mechatronic unit and cause overall failure.

How Do You Diagnose a Bad Mechatronic Unit?

At this point, it’s clear that the mechatronic unit is a critical part of the vehicle’s transmission. That means a unit that’s gone bad will demonstrate symptoms affecting the car’s ability to change gears.

More specifically, you can diagnose a bad unit by looking for these symptoms:

  1. Clunking noise coming from your car’s gears
  2. You can’t select the gears you want
  3. Gearbox sticking to the neutral gear regardless of your input or what the car’s doing
  4. Warning lights – e.g., the gear selector might flash its warning light, or the individual gear lights (P R N D S) on the dashboard may also start flashing

As you can imagine, these symptoms might differ between car brands and models (especially when it comes to warning lights). 

One resource you can use is to check the car owner manual for any symptoms of mechatronic unit failure that the manufacturer might highlight instead of the ones above.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace Mechatronic Units?

Now, let’s talk about how much it’ll cost to replace the mechatronic unit in your car.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, or maybe even more in Australia. But, of course, the final price will depend primarily on your car’s brand and model. On top of that, you’ll also need to pay for installation costs.

The prices are high, and that’s not surprising. Mechatronic units are complex components requiring specialist knowledge to troubleshoot and repair.

Can a Mechatronic Unit Be Repaired?

The mechatronic unit replacement cost shown above can be pretty shocking, but don’t stress too much. Yes, you can repair many mechatronic issues without switching the whole unit for a brand-new one.

So, be sure to take your car to a qualified expert so they can try their best to fix the issue and spare you the unnecessary cost of buying a new mechatronic unit. 

Check out CarpartAU’s directory to find gearbox specialists near you!

By Ray Hasbollah

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