What is a Car Transmission?

Every machine needs a power source, and in a car, that source is the main transmission.  What is a car transmission?  A car transmission is simply the assembly of parts, including the gears and the propeller shaft that transmits the power from the engine to the axle.

There are two kinds of transmissions: automatic transmissions and manual transmissions.  As you have probably guessed, these transmissions are based on whether the vehicle is an automatic or a stick shift.

 Main components of a transmission are:

  • Transmission Control Modules: one of the main parts of a transmission is transmission control module. The transmission control module controls the automatic transmissions, but is nonexistent in manual transmissions.
  • Transmission filters: another important component of transmissions is filters. Transmissions depend on transmission fluid, a coolant that allows the clutch to engage and disengage, gears to change, valves to open and close, and so on.  The filter ensures that any outside particles or substances are not mixed in with the fluid.
  • Transmission shafts: transmissions are also connected to the engine crankshaft by means of the flywheel, since the combustion engine inside the transmission cannot go below a particular speed. Therefore, the output of the transmission is done via the driveshaft, hence the name; drive the wheels of the car.

What Transmission Do I have?

Although all transmissions, whether they are automatic or manual, have the above components, there are still over two hundred different types of transmissions in cars on the road.  So you must be asking yourself, “What transmission do I have?”

That’s definitely a valid question, and knowing what kind of transmission your vehicle has will be handy to know if you need to get your vehicle serviced.  There are a few ways how to check that. Some tips for knowing what transmission your car has include:

  1. You need to know whether your car is an automatic or a manual…and you should know this already (we really hope you do!).
  2. You can also try looking in your owner’s manual, as there should be plenty of information about your car in there. However, the manual may or may not mention and explain what transmission your vehicle has.  You can also try opening the hood to your car and see if there is a sticker under the hood that will tell you what kind of transmission you have.
  3. You can also see if there is a white card on the driver’s door that should have plenty of specific information about your car in relation to your engine and transmission. The sticker is very easy to find.
  4. Your last option is to write down the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) for your car and call transmission shops or a mechanic; they can look up the transmission and get back to you.

Manual Transmission vs Automatic Transmission

Average transmission repair cost in a repair shop site

Besides obvious reasons related to your personal driving preferences and type of your license (not applicable to all countries) there are also some other considerations when choosing between manual and automatic boxes. The cost to fix a transmission is one of the most important factors when deciding between manual and automatic transmissions. This is because transmissions repair costs are typically some of the highest costs you will encounter whilst making repairs to make on a car.  This goes for both transmission repairs and transmission replacements. Most of the time, you can plan on spending at least fifteen hundred dollars for a replacement on a manual transmission, and at least two to three thousand for an automatic (remember, automatic and manual transmissions are two vastly different things and require different parts, time, know-how, processes etc.).

Manual transmissions typically run longer and are cheaper to fix and repair when compared to automatic transmissions.  Nonetheless, many people still prefer automatic transmissions because of their ease of use. Manual transmissions are more affordable and more traditional as well.  We’ll dive into the various factors with the cost of repairing or replacing a transmission later, as well as many problems that can result that will require you to repair or replace them.  After all, transmissions aren’t everlasting, and like any part of the car, they need fixing one time or another and it’s better to do it when you know approximately what is required and how much it will cost you.

Common Car Transmission Problems

Taking your car in for maintenance on a regular basis is just something that you have to take care of when you buy a car. There are many reasons for that and we all know them. Plus, for newer cars regular maintenance stops are required to keep manufacturer warranty valid, which is a very important factor on its own merit. However, as with nearly any machine, problems can occur even if you follow a regular maintenance plan. And car transmissions problems are among the bigger and more expensive issues to deal with. All because the cost of a new transmission is very high and even if you don’t have to buy a new transmission, having a transmission repaired is expensive as well. This is why it is so important that when you begin to notice any of the problems that we will discuss in your car, that you immediately take it to an experienced technician or mechanic to correct the problem. By doing this you at least make sure that you minimize your risks of having to pay more at a later stage. The rebuild transmission cost is most often slightly lower than the cost if you were to simply have the transmission entirely replaced, but usually this price is determined by the cost of the labor and of the condition of the actual transmission that is being installed or replaced.

Grinding transmission

There are several types of issues that you can notice if your transmission is not working properly. One of them is grinding transmission problems. All cars are designed to run smoothly and without any harsh sounds, so if you hear any grinding noise or feel grinding tension– it’s a sign of trouble. If your car experiences any shaking or grinding while it is being driven, then it probably means that something is wrong with the transmission, specifically the gears inside the box.  You will notice this more in manual types of transmissions when you have to shift gears, but in automatic types, you’ll find that the car grinds as it shifts on its own.  Automatic transmissions are more likely to develop problems than manual transmissions. Either way, the longer this goes unattended, then the more it will grind and shake or the more important it will be for you to take your car to a mechanic for inspection. It is not advisable to postpone visiting a shop or a mechanic if you have these problems. As you wait and you let your transmission grind its gears, more irreparable mechanical damage occurs which will then be much harder to fix, not to mention that it will also cost you a lot more both in terms of money and time.

Burning Smell from Transmission

A transmission problem is also likely if there is a burning smell from your car, which usually happens after an extended period of driving without having anything done to the transmission fluid.  Most burning smells from cars result from the transmission fluid severely overheating.  The transmission fluid is important as it keeps the individual components of the transmission properly lubricated and cooled off.  Once the fluid overheats, it becomes less effective in getting its job done and more debris and gunk will build up in the transmission.  The transmission will only be able to handle this to a certain point, and eventually will simply break down cause you problems and disappointment.  The only remedy at this point to save your car is to buy a completely new transmission and have it installed, but this can cost several thousand dollars.  So if you detect a burning smell from your car, have it inspected immediately to see if you can have the transmission fluid replaced.  The cost of having the transmission fluid replaced is typically one of the more inexpensive parts of having the transmission fixed, so it is well worth the effort to do it.  Fluid replacement is a fairly straightforward task, so even a simple car mechanic shop in your neighborhood will be able to get the job done quickly and without any problems.

Transmission Slipping / Transmission Leak

Another problem is that you could have a leaking transmission. Leaking transmission is a very serious problem as it can cause the car to shift gears awkwardly or to refuse to go into gear at all. Obviously you don’t want it to happen, especially if you are on a highway!  You should check your transmission fluid to make sure there is still enough and it is running properly. Keep in mind that overheated fluid, or fluid that was used for a very long time without replacement may not be able to do its job up to the required standard. If you discover that the transmission fluid is not the problem at hand, then it could be a problem with the car’s computer system. Computer system problems are usually not hard to fix, all you may have to do is to reset your computer. Also, leaking can be caused when something is wrong with your car’s battery. You will be better off having it inspected by a qualified mechanic, so that if it is confirmed as the source of problem, it can be quickly replaced.  If the problem is related to transmission slipping, a fix can fairly easy be taken care of by a good mechanic. As we are stating multiple times here, you should be able to this problem if you do regular checks of your car at recommended intervals.

Dragging Clutch

Not all problems are universal and equally applicable to both types of transmissions. There is also a problem with transmissions that can only happen in a manual transmission, and that is a problem with dragging clutch.  This is when the clutch fails to disengage the flywheel after the clutch pedal has been pressed.  If you ever face such a problem (we hope not) you will notice that it is extremely difficult to switch gears without applying a lot of force. This is because dragging clutch is related to transmission synchronization problems. You should be aware that putting a lot of force into switching gears while facing dragging clutch and synchronization problems may cause serious internal damage and ruin your transmission completely. Obviously, the best course of action in such cases is to visit a transmission repair shop as soon as realize that you have a problem. The good news about a dragging clutch is that it is one of the cheaper transmission problems to fix, but then again, many mechanical repairs in a manual shift car are cheaper as well.  All transmission repair shops, or even just simple mechanic or maintenance shops, should be able to lift your car and fix a dragging clutch quickly. The only constraint here can be that they may have to order the appropriate parts, if necessary and that may take a little more time (depending on your car and location of your shop).

Transmission Maintenance to Avoid Problems

transmission overhaul

For various reasons, transmissions can be among the most expensive components of your car to maintain.  But getting auto transmission service on your car is simply something that has to be done; it’s part of owning a car. Many people avoid maintaining their transmissions until something happens that requires them to do it. However, if you go through with having your automatic transmission serviced regularly, you’ll find that any potential future problems, eg transmission leak, dragging clutch, grinding transmission will be avoided, and you’ll save a lot of more money down the road as well. So, in the end it will pay off to get regular services done on your car and it’s most important components.

Many people deliberately choose not to go through with fixing their transmissions in full, because they figure that they can just have a used transmission installed somewhere down the road when they current transmission breaks down completely.  But the truth is that cheap transmission repair only deals with small components of the transmissions, such as changing the fluids, etc.  If you do not go through with your scheduled maintenance for your transmission, you’ll find that transmission repair shops will charge a lot more for the bigger parts.  Any transmission specialist will also tell you that not having your transmission checked out for schedule maintenance will only lead to big and expensive problems. All of the scheduled maintenance that we will talk about is absolutely necessary to begin with.

Transmission Service

So, what is a service of transmission?  We’ll take a look at transmission maintenance that you will need to keep up on for each service and at estimated costs.  The transmission service cost will vary by the station, by the parts that are needed, by the time and the labor that is put into the work and obviously by the type of car you have. Here is an example how transmission service costs can differ on different cars (a little extreme examples):

Type of CarTransmission Service Cost (Low)Cost (High)
Ferrari 360 $4,000 $5,000
2006 E350 4Matic $300 $1000

You’ll need to get regular, periodic maintenance on your transmission at the mechanic shop to ensure that your car will run smoothly without any problems.  Transmission mechanics will conduct a number of different services on periodic transmission maintenance, making sure the transmission is lubricated and working in good order with all the components functioning properly.  If anything turns up damaged during their inspection, a transmission specialist will speak to you about what needs to be replaced or fixed. Most services will be able to fix minor problems such as repairs gaskets, replacements of fluids, and changes of filters on the spot, while bigger and more expensive fixes will have to be scheduled for a later date.  You should get a transmission tune-up like this every thirty thousand miles on your car, or every few years, depending on what comes first, unless your warranty requirements instruct you otherwise.

Transmission Pan Gasket Replacement

In addition to just a regular, periodic inspection of your transmission, you also need to make sure that the pan gasket is replaced regularly.  It’s easy for the pan gasket to get worn out over time, and if it isn’t replaced routinely, it can cause the fluids in the transmission to leak, which in turn can lead to a host of other problems (such as causing the car to shift gears improperly).  Fortunately, it’s very easy for transmission experts to replace the pan gasket, and it’s relatively inexpensive as well.

Transmission Filter Replacement and Cleaning

It’s very easy for grime and other debris to build up in or on your transmission over time.  Transmission specialists will usually check this on their own, but to make sure they do, you should request it at your next tune-up.  Mechanics will clean and seal the individual components of the transmission.

Chances are that at your next planned check, the transmission filter will need to be replaced.  The filters become stressed after prolonged use, and it’s a vitally important component that will need to be replaced.  Despite this, replacing the transmission filter is overlooked by some on transmission mechanics, so be sure to ask for this service with each tune-up.

Transmission Fluids Check

Lastly, you will need to make sure that the transmission fluids are checked and possibly replaced with each check up.  Sometimes mechanics will simply drain the old fluids out and then fill in new ones to return the fluid volumes to factory levels.  Each car is different, so you’ll also need to make sure that the transmission fluid in your vehicle is checked to the specifications of the manufacturer of your specific car.  You can also top off the transmission fluid yourself between check-ups.

Transmission Flush

flushing fluids in a transmissionA cheap transmission flush is done by a transmission flush service by using equipment that will run off of the transmission pump built into the machine.  These machines are connected to the cooler lines of the transmission, so that the old fluid can be pumped out while the new fluid is pumped in simultaneously (and in the same quantity).

It’s not uncommon for a solvent to be sent back into the transmission that will remove any last traces of the old transmission fluid in the components of the transmission.  The solvent will be run through by a mechanic, and may also be sent through the fluid before the vehicle’s transmission is flushed.  Once this is completed, the cooling lines, converter and other parts of the transmission will be thoroughly inspected and cleaned by the mechanic.

Transmission Flush vs Transmission Fluid Change

A flush is different from a fluid change, in that the fluid change cannot remove all of the gunk and debris that builds up inside the transmission, while a flush can.

Pros and Cons of Transmission Flush

There is a very long running debate about whether getting an automatic transmission flush is a good thing or a bad thing.  This debate is largely fought among mechanics, technicians, car owners and consumers.  You may find it silly that there is such a debate over individual components of a car, but it is a real thing.  It’s also quite important that you take it seriously so that you don’t have something bad happen to your transmission when it could have very easily been prevented.

Arguments Against

Some people believe that a flush of a transmission is actually bad for a vehicle.  Of course, having a clean transmission free of all the gunk and debris is a good thing.  Mechanics and consumers and everyone else all come to an agreement on this; your transmission will run better and it will last longer if it is free of gunk and debris.

The reason why some people do not believe that getting a transmission flush is a good idea, is because the process of flushing forces liquid into the transmission, but in the opposite direction of the natural flow of the fluids. This could potentially bring damage to the components of the transmission and even block passageways; as the fluid flows the opposite direction, debris stuck to the transmission components can be set free and instead of being sent out of the transmission, can only be sent further into it and block passageways and bring about unnecessary damage to the transmission.

Once new fluid is put into the transmission, the blockages created in the transmission can block the flow of the fluid.  This means that not all of the components of the transmission will become properly lubricated, and thus after prolonged use, the car might not shift gears properly.

Arguments For

However, many people believe that this is unlikely to happen, and that the benefits of the flush are worth the slight risk.  They also contend that all you have to do after performing the transmission flush is have the mechanic change the transmission filter afterward.  This will remove any debris building up in the transmission and causing problems.  This will allow you to drive safely on the road, and pay less in the future on maintenance costs.  In addition, a transmission leaking could also occur if you don’t have the transmission flushed.  This is why it is important that you do have the transmission flushed regularly, or at the very least inspected by a mechanic or technician.

Transmission Flush Coupons

Some specialists or repair shops will offer you transmission flush coupons to bring the transmission fluid flush cost down.  Flushing the fluids in a transmission are some of the more common tasks that mechanics and especially transmission specialists do every day or week in their careers.  As a result, you are more likely to find a coupon for a transmission flush versus other work that would need to be done for your transmission.

Transmission Fluid Flush Cost

Sample and average fluid flush costs:

Type of CarCost (low)Cost (high)
Toyota Camry $250 $350
2004 KIA Rio $100 $300
Superior Ford Explorer $150 $250
2006 Mazda 3 Sport $150 $250
Infiniti G35 $100 $150
Honda CRV $185 $185
1995 PSD $125 $125
2009 Honda Civic 4D DX-G $40 $80
Truck $69 $69
Average Transmission Fluid Flush Cost $130 $195

Transmission Repair

The transmission of a car is undoubtedly the most complicated part of the vehicle, as transmissions shift the gears in both automatic and manual cars, output a rotational speed on the vehicle, and increase torque to the wheels as the rotational speed decreases.

But as with nearly any aspect of a car, there are still things in the car that can go wrong.  You’re going to have to send your vehicle to the auto transmission repair shops one time or another; usually at thirty thousand mile intervals, or when something goes wrong with the transmission.

Transmission Repair vs Transmission Maintenance

repairing a transmission in a shopWhat you need to take note of here is that there is a difference between having your transmission repaired and having your transmission maintained.  Having your transmission maintained means that you simply take it in for scheduled maintenance and have it inspected, and anything that needs to be tuned up can be.  For example, a simple transmission oil change price will fall under having your transmission maintained.

But having your transmission repaired means that there will be something majorly wrong or out of the ordinary in your transmission that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.  Whatever needs to be fixed can either be discovered by you when you find that your car doesn’t run properly, or it can be discovered by a mechanic or technician when they inspect your car.

Having your transmission maintained means that you are simply taking action, on a scheduled basis, to prevent your transmission from having problems in the future.  Nonetheless, problems in your transmission can still happen, whether you expect it or not (transmissions, as well as various other internal components of a car, are unpredictable).  Thus, having your transmission repaired means that you are fixing an existing problem with your transmission, and this problem will usually be big enough that not taking care of it will lead to more problems down the road.

How to Fix a Transmission?

So, how to fix a transmission?  The answer lies in first understanding what could be wrong with your transmission.  Auto transmission repairs and manual transmission repairs are also two different things, so be sure the mechanic you take your car to specializes in the type of transmission your car has.

Sometimes repairing a transmission can be as easy as having the transmission flushed or changing the car’s transmission fluid on a regular basis, and most problems can be alleviated by having your transmission tuned up every thirty thousand miles.  But all it takes is for just one mechanical failure to put your car in need of transmission repair.

You will need to repair or potentially replace your transmission in the event of the transmission slipping between gears, a burning smell, a dragging clutch (in manual vehicles only), grinding in between gear shifts, or a delay in gear shifts.

A mechanic will be sure to inform you of what’s wrong with your transmission after giving a complete inspection, and will either recommended a replacement or a repair process to make sure that your car’s transmission will function reliably.  Unfortunately, having your transmission repaired or replaced is also among the most expensive aspects of owning a car.

Rebuilding Transmission

A mechanic may also recommend rebuilding your transmission.  This is done by removing the transmission from the vehicle, opening the case, and then cleaning each of the components and replacing all of the parts that have been worn out.  Common parts that will need to be replaced include the seals, gaskets, valves, bands, filters, and clutch components.  The gears, converters, casings, and drums are much more durable and will likely only have to be cleaned.

Having your auto transmission repaired in this fashion is also time consuming and can take up to three days, so you’ll want to make sure that you have an alternative mode of transportation in the meantime.

How to Rebuild a Transmission

How to Rebuild a Transmission GM 4L60-E video: 

Minor transmission repairs

There are also minor repairs that can be made, that won’t cost nearly as much as having your transmission rebuilt.  This may include removing or disassembling the different pieces of the transmission; the costs will be determined by your vehicle.

All in all, getting your transmission repaired isn’t easy, and it is an expensive and time consuming process.  Depending on the age of your car, you may find that it makes sense to replace it rather than to repair the transmission.

Maintenance, Replacement and Transmission Repair Costs

Having to repair or replace your transmission is among the most expensive maintenance costs that you will have to make on your car.  Everything from the automatic transmission fluid change cost to the transmission flush cost to the transmission replacement cost isn’t going to come cheap.

A typical transmission price is expensive because it is reflective of what needs to be done to your car; without the transmission, your car simply won’t run at all.  And if anything happens to your transmission, or if parts and components of it become worn down over time, then the transmission won’t run properly and could eventually go out entirely.  Don’t make the mistake of avoiding simple transmission maintenance plans just because of the price, such as the cost of a transmission fluid change, to the bigger aspects of it such as having your transmission seriously repaired or replaced.  If your transmission does go out, then your only options will be to buy a new transmission or buy a new car, neither of which is optimal.

The good news is that if you do keep your transmission properly maintained, i.e. having it inspected and checked out on a regular basis by a mechanic or a technician, and if you repair anything in it that needs to be repaired, you’ll find that your transmission will run very smoothly, and your car should run smoothly as well to last you for many more years and many more miles.  That said, let’s discuss what the typically costs of having your transmission fixed or replaced are.

Average Transmission Fluid Change Cost:

Sample and average change costs of transmission fluid change are demonstrated below:

Type of Car Cost (low)Cost (high)
2009 335i$800 $1,000
06 CLK 350 with 7 Speeds$300 $350
2011 Honda Accord$229 $229
Nissan Altima v6$150 $200
1997 Cadillac STS$50 $60
Normalized Average Transmission Fluid Change Cost$226 $260

Transmission Repair Prices

A mechanic will charge the most for having to repair a transmission, let alone replace it.  Transmissions repair prices can cost between one and a half thousand to five thousand dollars for an automatic, whereas the cost to repair a manual transmission may be about five hundred dollars less.

Type of CarCost (low)Cost (high)
2004 E320 4 matic wagon$4,000 $5,000
2002 BMW X5$3,500 $4,500
2003 Nissan Altima$2,500 $3,000
Honda CRV$2,200 $2,500
98 Honda Accord$2,000 $2,000
Chevrolet Silverado$1,500 $2,000
Average Transmission Repair Cost$2,617 $3,167

Transmission Leak Repair Cost

Transmission leak repair costs differ greatly depending on what type of car, transmission, and problem you have. Below are some examples:

Type of CarCost (low)Cost (High)Comment
2002 Honda Accord $150 $200 Drive axle seal
2002 Honda Accord$500 $700 Front seal
2007 Mazda CX-9 4DR SUV$600 $700 Rear axle seal
Nissan Altima $700 $800 Oil cooler leak
Ford F150$200 $300 Fluid Leak
Ford XL$50 $150 4.2 Liter Coolant Leak

Transmission Rebuild Costs

Transmission rebuild prices are quite high as you can see from the table below. As you can see regular service and maitenance pays off in the long run as you get to avoid expensive transmission rebuild costs.

Type of CarCost (low)Cost (High)
BMW X5 $2,000 $25,000
Honda Accord $3,000 $3,000
Chevrolet Silverado $1,800 $3,000
Ford Explorer $1,600 $2,000
1998 Honda Accord V6 $1,500 $2,000
Toyota Camry $1,800 $1,800
2001 Honda Civic $800 $1,400
98 Cadillac Catera $400 $500
Normalized Average Transmission Rebuild Cost $1,750 $2,200

Transmission Replacement Cost

The transmission replacement cost will be much higher, usually between one and a half thousand to five thousand dollars…significantly more expensive than a rebuilt transmission cost.  Fortunately, the cost of a transmission fluid change or of transmission oil change prices will come much cheaper than that.

Type of Car Cost (low) Cost (high)
Ford Explorer 2002 $4,000 $5,000
BMW 2001 $3,000 $4,500
GM High Performance $3,000 $4,500
2002 Honda Accord $3,000 $4,500
2004 Honda Accord V6 $3,000 $4,500
Jeep Grand Cherokee $2,500 $3,500
2002 Honda Civic Sedan $2,500 $3,000
Ford F150 $1,500 $3,000
2002 Toyota Camry $2,400 $2,800
2003 Chevrolet Impala $2,300 $2,800
Average Transmission Replacement Cost $2,720 $3,810

Transmission Repair and Replacement Costs Factors

What makes transmission works so expensive?  It’s based on a wide variety of factors:

  • What specific repairs the mechanic has to perform
  • Cost of labor
  • Cost of parts
  • How much time is spent in the repair or replacement process
  • What type of car you are driving (German-made cars typically cost more)
  • How much damage has been done to the transmission
  • How old the car is (older cars costs more)
  • What shop you are at (some mechanic repair shops charge more, too).

Transmission Replacement: Old vs. New Transmissions

automatic transmission repairThere has always been a debate between whether to get a new transmission or a used transmission to replace your existing one.  To put it more specifically, there are usually three different choices available to you: a remanufactured transmission, a rebuilt one, or a used one (that would be picked up out of a salvage yard).

A remanufactured transmission differs from a rebuilt one in that a remanufactured one has been taken apart and put back together at a factory, whereas a rebuilt one has only had the same done to it at a mechanic repair shop.

Affordable Transmission Myth

Nonetheless, if you are looking for ‘affordable transmissions’ you probably aren’t going to find it.  Not even refurbished transmissions or used automatic transmissions are going to save you very much money out of your bank account, and any cheap transmission that you do find probably won’t be in very good shape and won’t last you very long. You can still get a transmission warranty to come with your replacement, or aftermarket transmissions as well that could cost less.

A rebuilt or remanufactured transmission is going to cost you a lot of money, usually between one thousand and six thousand dollars.  The cost will be impacted by how old you car it is, what make and model it is, and whether or not the transmission is a manual or an automatic.  Manual transmissions will cost about five hundred to one thousand dollars less than automatic transmissions on average, and are also more likely to come with a warranty.

Remanufactured Transmissions Considerations

Remanufactured transmissions will cost more than rebuilt ones, and will also come with a better warranty of usually over seventy five thousand miles or over two years.  A remanufactured transmission also takes a less amount of time to install, so you don’t have to worry as much about finding yourself another mode of transportation in the meantime.

Rebuilt Transmission Considerations

A transmission that was rebuilt will have a shorter warranty (usually less than one year), and the process can take up to a week sometimes.  There’s also a difference between what kind of cars you are looking to replace the transmission in: replacing the transmission in a truck will cost around one and a half – three thousand dollars, in a sedan around two to three thousand, in an SUV around three to four thousand, and in a minivan around the same price. We will focus on rebuilt transmissions more later.

Used Transmission Considerations

Your other option is a used transmission that will be picked up as a salvage item out of junk yard; these will usually cost you around one thousand dollars or less, but you still must be very wary of them.  They will still likely work, just less than a remanufactured or rebuilt transmission.  Also, you won’t know the history of the transmission. You’re definitely taking a risk buying and installing a used transmission in your car, but if spending the least amount of money as possible is your goal, then it might be your best bet.

Transmission Repair Cost Considerations

The transmission repair cost estimate is largely based on whether the transmission is new or old; newer transmissions will usually charge more because they tend to be in better condition and made of newer components, even if they have been sitting on the shelf for many years.  In contrast, older transmissions have most likely been used by another car. Some older transmissions have been rebuilt so that they function fully and reliably, and in some cases, these older transmissions are in almost if not just as good condition as the newer transmissions and will cost less too.  Nonetheless, this is not always the case, as older transmissions can sometimes be not so reliable.

History Considerations

If you are considering an older transmission, you need to know the full history on it (how many cars it’s been through or how many miles are on it, who fixed it up and/or completely repaired it, etc). Knowing this information, not on just an old transmission but on a new one as well, will greatly increase your chances of buying a transmission that lasts you a long time.

Rebuilt Transmissions: Pros and Cons

transmission being rebuild in a shopRebuilt transmissions are one kind of transmission to install in your car, and despite being a certified transmission, are still different from remanufactured transmissions in that they are taken apart and put back together again in a repair shop rather than at a factory.  Nonetheless, there are many credible transmission rebuild shops that can get the job done.  There are still pros and cons of rebuilt automatic transmissions and rebuilt manual transmissions that you need to be aware of.

Let’s start with Pros:

  • Price: The first major pro is the price. A rebuilt transmission will cost less than a new one, at least at a certified transmission rebuild service.  This is why many people in need of a transmission replacement go with a rebuilt one, rather than buying a new one.  You can even try rebuilding a transmission yourself, if you have the experience and the tools necessary to do so.  You’ll also need a specific kit. Either an automatic transmission rebuilt kit or a manual transmission rebuilt kit, depending on whether your car is an automatic or a stick shift.
  • Parts: Another pro of rebuilt transmissions is that when they are rebuilt, they usually come equipped with the newest parts.  You may not believe it, but when you buy a new transmission, you may not be buying one where all of the parts are new; shocking right? This is because the transmission could have been built several years ago and has been sitting around in the shop ever since, waiting to be installed.  It may also be a transmission that the company has just had in stock for a long time.
  • Warranty: Transmission rebuilders can also offer you a decent warranty; try to find one that has a minimum time of one year or twelve thousand miles, and that covers all of the parts and labor necessary.  You may be offered a cheap transmission without a warranty, but resist the temptation to buy it.

There are also cons to a transmission rebuild:

  • Short Warranty: Even though you should try to find a warranty with at least twelve thousand miles or one year, the warranty with a rebuilt transmission will still never be as good as with new transmissions.  With a new transmission, you could find a warranty of up to three years, thirty thousand miles, and still with all of the parts and labor covered.  Nonetheless, most certified transmissions, even those that have been rebuilt, should have a good warranty to cover them.
  • Testing: The other major pitfall to installing a rebuilt transmission is that you don’t know if the transmission has been tested properly, so it could be installed and then not work any better than your last transmission.  There’s also no way of telling how well the transmission will work until it has been installed into your car.


But all in all, the pros to rebuilt outdo the cons.  Look for a professional company that is also reputable, and have a solid warranty and years of experience with them.

We are hoping that our transmissions repair guide was helpful to you and we managed to answer your questions. We have a lot more guides available on our website. Please fill free to leave a comment or contact us via our Contract form and we will do our best to respond to you.

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