As a significant control component of vehicles, automatic transmissions should have failure protection function. The failure protection function partly is determined by the hydraulic control system. However traditional design could not cover all of failures, and there is no general design method. A design method is proposed for designing the shift control oil circuit of the hydraulic control system with the failure protection function. The design method is applied to optimize the hydraulic control system of a six-speed automatic transmission. The function of the optimized hydraulic control system is confirmed by the dynamic simulation. The results show that the design method can simplify the hydraulic control system without losing any original functions. The proposed design method is proved to be suitable for all kinds of hydraulic control systems of automatic transmissions.