Have you been experiencing some poor performance from your transmission, and the transmission keeps slipping gears or shudders even if you changed the fluid? Maybe the time has come for a transmission rebuild. But, how much does it cost to rebuild a transmission? Well, in this article, we are going to find out.
- What Is A Car Transmission?
- Different Transmission Types
- Are Automatics More Prone To Damage?
- Causes Of Transmission Failure
- Symptoms Of A Bad Transmission
- Cost To Rebuild A Transmission
- Maintenance & Servicing Tips
- Final Conclusion
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The transmission is one of the most essential components in our vehicle. The transmission makes it possible for all those smooth shifts. If your transmission is not functioning properly, it is time to consider doing a rebuild.
A rebuild is going to extend the life of your transmission and will make it last for a very long time. The rebuild is basically a process that is done by a professional mechanic who has a lot of experience in rebuilding transmissions. This process has to be perfectly done for your transmission to work properly again. If it’s not done right, the transmission will keep slipping gears and your driving experience will be extremely poor.
In this article, we are going to learn a lot when it comes to automatic transmissions. From the basics, we will move to the rebuild process and we will learn how this is done. Then we are going to learn about how much does it cost to rebuild a transmission. Because at the end of the day, this rebuilding process has to also be affordable. So, let’s get into the article.
A transmission or better called a gearbox is an integral part of every internal combustion engine. Without transmissions, there wouldn’t be any cars on the road. Or if there were cars, driving them would be impossible.
The transmission performs all the magic in torque delivery. The transmission converts the rotational energy in the crankshaft into torque energy that helps you move your car from a standstill.
This energy is properly applied onto the road, and the transmission makes sure that there is no power loss. In short, the transmission helps you deliver smoother shifts at the right RPM levels that avoid overloading the engine and prevent it from wasting fuel.
That’s why these days, we have transmissions that have eight or ten gears. More gears mean a smoother ride. Even though it also means more complicated transmissions.
Modern transmissions are very complex in their engineering, and only a handful of companies make them. There are literally no other players on the market. The most popular transmissions these days are the ZF gearboxes which are made in Germany.
These transmissions deliver a lot for what they are worth and even more in some cases. They have revolutionized the torque converter transmission and made it popular again. That’s by delivering hypercar performances to regular customers. That is what customers like me and you expect – snappy shifts at cheap and affordable prices. And also, less fuel is being spent.
That’s why if you have a bad transmission and are thinking about how much does it cost to rebuild a transmission, you should consider this rebuild. That’s especially true if your transmission isn’t able to deliver sufficient performance.
Personally, I had rebuilt a few of my transmissions in the past and the rebuilds were done by professionals that delivered well.
Types Of Transmission In Cars
There are generally two types of transmissions – manuals, and automatics. In manual transmissions, you are pushing through the gears by pressing the clutch. Manual transmissions are fun to drive because you are the one who decides when to shift a gear. This ability gives us, the drivers, some sense of analog pleasure when we are driving a manual (or learning how to drive a manual car).
Manual cars can be a lot of fun, but they do require more effort, and driving a manual after an hour can be tiring and your leg muscles will suffer. That’s why automatic transmissions were invented. They help us immensely for convenience’s sake. You only have to press the gas pedal and the automatic transmission will shift through the gears with ease.
Automatic transmissions change the gears with the help of hydraulic fluid or better known as ATF. This fluid is bright red in color to be easily distinguishable from other automotive fluids. The main characteristic of this fluid is its durability and the ability to withstand a lot of strain.
Automatic Transmissions Are More Complex
But when this fluid is rarely changed, it can damage the transmission. If there is too much debris inside of the automatic transmission, it may cause the transmission to shudder and slip through the gears. The symptoms are quite serious, and it might prompt you to suddenly start searching online about how much does it cost to rebuild a transmission. That’s the sad part of automatics.
Also, age affects the gearbox as well. The more miles that have been run on the transmission, the greater the potential is for problems to appear, or for the gearbox to fail. Doing a rebuild requires a lot of expertise from the rebuilder who has a good eye for details. The rebuilder has to know every part of the transmission. They have to have a picture in their mind of how everything works. That’s why a good rebuilder is hard to find.
Why Do Automatics Suffer More Than Manuals
Automatics are more sensitive to changes than manual transmissions. This is the case because of their complexity. They are extremely complex and have a ton more components inside them. All these gears bring the risk factor to the table.
Compared to manuals which are pretty simple in design. They have a smaller number of gears and they are pretty simple. They have the same fluid during their lifetime. Even though this fluid is recommended to be changed. Not a lot of owners that have manual transmission change the fluid and still are pushing more than 200k miles on these transmissions.
Automatics on the other hand has a complex piping system where hydraulic fluid moves to deliver a gear smoothly. All this is too complicated and small impurities can damage these transmissions. These impurities are usually microscopic and still affect the life of the transmission and its reliable shifts.
That’s why automatics require a lot of maintenance and taking care of. Also, the manuals can withstand a high load that automatics simply can’t.
With this in mind, manual transmissions are pretty much bulletproof. The amount of torque they can handle is incredible. Some of the automatics are catching up, though. But they are still way back in terms of reliability. That can also be seen in drag racing or racing in general. Everything is done with manual transmissions or automated manuals.
The automated manual is also called a robotized manual where you can shift gears with steering-wheel-mounted pedals like an automatic. However, you still shift like a manual car with a clutch and all that jazz.
What Causes An Automatic Transmission To Fail
The automatic transmission can fail for many different reasons. But the most important factor is the regular service. If the automatic transmission is not regularly maintained, it can fail sooner than you have expected.
One or two delayed transmission fluid changes may ruin your transmission (if you need more context, check out our guide on should I change transmission fluid after 100k miles and how often should you change transmission fluid, as well as should you change transmission fluid on high mileage cars). Automatic transmissions are extremely sensitive and they always require clean transmission fluid to work.
This fluid (also called ATF or hydraulic fluid) makes them function properly and always deliver proper shifts. But things can never be perfect and so the transmission fluid could be collecting debris as it goes along.
This debris is usually metal particles. These metal particles were deposited with the running of your car, and the miles that built upon it. That’s why the fluid is being recommended as a service every 30,000 miles. This fluid has to be changed regularly to keep the transmission in good working order.
If not, this contaminated fluid will damage the gears and cause the shifting experience to be unreliable. The transmission is going to start slip gears and shudder. Especially when it heats up during the summer.
This prolonged maintenance in the end is going to cost you a lot of money to fix. This is what will lead you to look at how much does it cost to rebuild a transmission.
To avoid this issue, you have to learn how to maintain your transmission’s well-being. And that is by regular transmission fluid changes. This will extend your transmission’s life and will make sure that you don’t end up looking for how much does it cost to rebuild a transmission. To find out more, check out our guide on whether should you change transmission fluid.
But what if your transmission is due to be rebuilt and can’t keep your car on the road? In the next chapter, we are going to cover the costs in great detail.
Symptoms Of A Bad Transmission
Long before it fails, the transmission will start to develop some symptoms. You must recognize these symptoms and know when your transmission is failing. Because if you ignore these symptoms in the end, your transmission will fail completely, and you will not be able to move your car at all.
So, you must know when it comes to failing transmissions how to recognize that you are having issues. Plus, you’ll need to try to fix it as soon as possible. Even though it is expensive, it has to be repaired. But what are the symptoms of a failing transmission? Well, let’s see.
How Much Does It Cost To Rebuild A Transmission, Symptoms #1: Refuses To Go Into Gear
One of the most prominent symptoms of a failing transmission is probably the refusal of the transmission to go into gear. This can be a problem since you will be stuck with one or two gears only. This problem, unfortunately, cannot be resolved unless the transmission is opened and inspected.
If you drive with a transmission like this, you are putting the life of the transmission in danger. By this, I mean if you are persistent and you want to shift into another gear and the transmission just doesn’t like it. You may end up ruining the transmission and the rebuilding of this transmission will almost be impossible.
So, if you are having an issue when the transmission refuses to go into another gear, it’s best to not drive the vehicle. And as soon as possible, take it to a transmission shop where they will inspect it and rebuild it.
How Much Does It Cost To Rebuild A Transmission, Symptoms #2: Noises While In Neutral
Another problem with bad transmissions is that sometimes these transmissions start to produce sounds while they are in neutral gear.
This can be annoying for you because you have to listen to all these noises and observe that your transmission is dying out and giving up.
These noises are because there is no more synchronization between the parts and some of the transmission parts are malfunctioning.
That’s why you get unpleasant noises and this is a clear sign that you need to perform a transmission rebuild on your car. Don’t wait and visit a transmission technician to inspect your transmission and rebuild it.
How Much Does It Cost To Rebuild A Transmission, Symptoms #3: Gear Slippage
When a transmission keeps slipping gears you obviously have a problem this gear slippage can be extremely annoying and it will severely impact your car’s driveability.
If changing the fluid doesn’t help and your car keeps slipping gears, then you probably have a permanent problem. This problem usually happens to transmissions that were not properly maintained during their lifetime.
Miss out on overdue transmission fluid changes (and your regular Ford transmission fluid change and how often do you change transmission fluid) and you are going to end up with a transmission that slips gears regularly. But everything is repairable. You need to do a rebuild of the transmission and hopefully, the technician that is going to rebuild your transmission will solve your issue permanently.
So, don’t drive with a slipping transmission, and make sure that your transmission is always in check. Look for how much does it cost to rebuild a transmission and find the most affordable place that is doing these types of rebuilds.
How Much Does It Cost To Rebuild A Transmission, Symptoms #4: Grinding Sounds
Another problem that may appear is the grinding sounds that your transmission makes. It sounds like the metal in your transmission is torn to pieces.
This sound is not pleasant and also it is not a good sign. In your transmission, there is probably some grinding metal and some parts are extremely damaged.
This damage, if not taken care of in good time, can destroy your transmission. Imagine if a piece of gear gets stuck between the gears and it will basically destroy all the gears.
To fix this issue, the best is to act quickly and not drive your car like this. By avoiding driving your car, you are going to prevent some future damage to your transmission and hopefully, it’s going to be rebuildable. If not, you are going to need a new transmission to be installed on your car.
How Much Does It Cost To Rebuild A Transmission, Symptoms #5: Humming Sounds
Humming sounds may also start to appear in your cabin while your transmission is engaging and disengaging a gear. This will be extremely pronounced on transmissions that have reached the end of their lifetime and are due for a rebuild.
This humming sound can be annoying and it can literally sound like something is going wrong in your transmission pretty soon. This humming sound usually appears before your transmission starts grinding. The best thing to do is to address the problem as soon as possible to prevent any future damage to your transmission.
And by this, we mean looking at how much does it cost to rebuild a transmission and sorting these problems out.
How Much Does It Cost To Rebuild A Transmission, Symptoms #6: Check Engine Light
To further investigate the issue, we have to dive deeper and scan the car for possible codes. To do this, we will need a good OBD2 scanner tool and then investigate the problem.
After you scanned the car for codes, now it’s time to learn more about them and see if there are any concerning the transmission. If there are codes that are connected with the transmission it is time to react and take your car to a shop so they will see what the real issue is.
That’s because it may be something connected with the electronics, as well. But now let’s see how much does it cost to rebuild a transmission.
How Much To Rebuild A Transmission
Rebuilding your transmission is probably the way to go if you have a problematic transmission. With a rebuild, you will be sure that your transmission will be shifting properly once again.
Depending on the shop where you take your car, the rebuild process cost can vary. So how much does it cost to rebuild a transmission?
The cost to rebuild a transmission is usually priced from $1500 to $3000. This will depend much on the extent of the damage in the transmission and the work and parts that are required for a properly working transmission to be delivered.
It is also worth noting that you should try to find a good shop that is highly experienced in rebuilding transmissions like yours. Because some shops have expertise in rebuilding truck transmissions for example, while some have more experience rebuilding car transmissions.
But even if you rebuild the transmission, it is not guaranteed that it’s going to function properly for a long time. It’s worth mentioning that automatic transmissions are extremely complex pieces of machinery and require a lot of skill to be put into rebuilding one.
1. Basics of Transmission Rebuilds
A transmission rebuild involves overhauling an existing system with new parts, often without the need to replace the entire transmission. Rather than a total replacement, mechanics will inspect the transmission for worn or damaged parts and replace them accordingly.
2. Factors Determining Costs
Several factors influence transmission rebuild costs. The type of transmission (automatic vs. manual), the make and model of the car, and the extent of damage all play roles in determining the overall price.
3. Breakdown of Parts and Costs
- Torque Converter ($150-$350): Found primarily in automatic transmissions, the torque converter plays a crucial role in transferring power from the engine to the transmission. Given its importance, a malfunctioning converter often gets replaced during a rebuild.
- Seals and Gaskets ($50-$100): Seals prevent fluid leaks, ensuring smooth gear shifts. They wear out with time and are typically replaced in every rebuild.
- Clutch ($100-$500): In manual transmissions, the clutch is vital. Depending on the vehicle, the costs can vary significantly.
- Solonoids ($15-$100 each): These electromagnetic devices control the flow of fluid in the transmission. If they malfunction, gear shifts may become erratic.
4. Labor Costs
Labor often constitutes a significant portion of the rebuild costs. On average, you might spend between $500 and $1200 on labor alone. The complexity of the rebuild and the model of the car can influence labor costs. For instance, luxury or rare vehicles might demand higher labor charges due to intricacy or limited availability of parts.
5. Examples of Popular Models
- Honda Accord ($1800-$2500): Known for its reliability, the Honda Accord’s transmission rebuild can be on the lower end of the spectrum if addressed early.
- Ford F-150 ($2000-$2800): As a heavy-duty vehicle, the F-150 may face more wear and tear, leading to slightly elevated rebuild costs.
- Toyota Camry ($1900-$2600): Similar to the Accord, the Camry’s maintenance costs, including transmission rebuilds, tend to be affordable if problems are tackled promptly.
6. Additional Costs to Consider
Sometimes, there are unexpected costs. These might include:
- Transmission Fluid ($30-$100): Fresh fluid is essential after a rebuild. The type and amount can affect the cost.
- Adjustments Post-Rebuild ($100-$200): After the rebuild, some transmissions may require adjustments or “tuning” to ensure optimal performance.
7. Cost-Saving Tips
If you’re looking to save, consider these tips:
- Get Multiple Quotes: Mechanics can offer varied pricing. Shopping around is wise.
- Know Your Car: Understanding your car’s needs and potential issues can help in negotiations.
- Warranty: Ensure that the rebuild comes with a warranty. This can save money if issues arise later on.
8. Warning Signs to Look Out For
Be proactive. If you notice grinding noises, delayed gear shifts, or fluid leaks, it might be time for a check. Addressing issues early can prevent more extensive, costly damage in the long run.
Rebuilding a transmission is a significant undertaking, both in complexity and cost. But by understanding the breakdown, staying proactive, and being knowledgeable, you can navigate the process more confidently and potentially save money. Remember, maintaining your car’s transmission is vital to its performance and longevity.
Is It Worth Replacing Transmission
So, we answered how much does it cost to rebuild a transmission, and now let’s see if getting a new transmission instead of rebuilding one is a better idea?
This is a good question, to be honest, and I think that getting a new and a refurbished part is not the same. With a new transmission, you get a warranty for a certain mileage period while with a refurbished one, you barely get anything.
New transmissions also tend to be more expensive than refurbished transmissions and they can cost more than $3000.
But also, it is worth noting that getting a second-hand transmission from a low-mile crashed vehicle is a decent idea. There are a lot of cars that end up in the boneyards. So, look and see if you can come across a good deal. It is worth considering. You may end up paying far less than getting a brand-new one or doing a rebuild on your existing transmission.
How To Prevent Transmission Damage
Preventing transmission damage is easy. You only have to do the regular service on it. Make sure that you replace the transmission fluid regularly. This will guarantee that your transmission will last for a long time.
Also, avoid overloading your vehicle. Overloading puts a lot of stress on the transmission and it will possibly damage the transmission and will make it work poorly. It will start to shudder and slip gears. The next thing you know is that you will have to do a rebuild and search for how much does it cost to rebuild a transmission. So, don’t do that.
Can I Keep Driving My Car Without A Rebuild
You can drive your car as it is. But you cannot know for how long it is going to last. The transmission may suddenly fail and you won’t even be able to move the vehicle at all.
That’s why it is a smart idea to repair this problem when you first notice it and make sure that it’s sorted.
How Much Does It Cost To Rebuild A Transmission: In Conclusion…
In this article, we have learned a lot when it comes to transmissions. We started from the basics and then we moved on to more complex topics and learned the symptoms of a failing transmission.
If you start to feel some metal grinding noises, the check engine light, and slipping gears, it is a good time to see your mechanic and investigate the issue further.
Then we have covered how much does it cost to rebuild a transmission. A transmission rebuild is usually between $1500 to $3000. This will depend much on the type of transmission you have and the rebuilder that is doing the rebuild.
How Much Does It Cost To Rebuild A Transmission: Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re still curious to learn more about how much does it cost to rebuild a transmission, our FAQs here might help…
How Much Is A Transmission
If your car’s transmission needs a major overhaul, it will cost you a pretty penny. For example, a thorough rebuild would cost you, on average, around $1,500 to $3,000. When doing a transmission rebuild, a skilled technician would essentially crack open your gearbox. Then, proceed the keep, restore, or re-condition the good parts of a gearbox, and replace the bad ones before putting it all back together. Granted, rebuilding a more complex or high-spec transmission could sometimes cost you as much as $5,000. Still, it can sometimes be cheaper than replacing the transmission outright, with a new gearbox costing anywhere from $4,000 to upwards of $8,000.
How Much Does It Cost To Rebuild An Engine
Some argue that an automotive transmission (aka the gearbox) is a much more complicated component or assembly than the engine. So, if it costs around $1,500 to $3,000 (though sometimes higher) for a transmission rebuild, how much does it cost to rebuild an engine, then? Well, it’s mostly in the same ballpark, with an average engine rebuild setting you back around $2,500 to $4,500, on average. Granted, some engine rebuilds can be done for much cheaper. For example, if you’re rebuilding a simpler engine. Or, if an engine doesn’t need a heavily thorough rebuild. In this case, you might even get away with rebuilding an engine for just $1,000.
How Much To Change Transmission Fluid
Changing the transmission fluid will set you back somewhere between $130 to $480. That’s if you have it changed professionally, at a reputable shop or dealer. Although, the average transmission fluid change isn’t necessarily this expensive, as it can be done for as little as $80 to about $250 on the higher end. A single quart of gearbox fluids could be bought at a local auto parts store for between $8 to $20. However, the typical passenger vehicle might require between 5 to 15 quarts of fluids. On top of that, you need to replace the transmission fluid alongside a new transmission fluid filter (between $15 to $30, on average).
How Long Does It Take To Rebuild A Transmission
Arguably, an automotive transmission is a more complex component than the engine. As such, it does require a lot of time and labor hours should a transmission need a thorough rebuild. Typically, automatic transmissions – owing to their much more complicated design and tight tolerances – are harder to work on than manual transmissions. Hence, that explains why a manual transmission can sometimes be rebuilt from scratch in 1 or 2 days. Meanwhile, an automatic transmission would require between 3 to 4 days to rebuild. A simpler rebuild and re-conditioning might be able to cut the time down to around 1 day, depending on the condition of the gearbox.
How Long Does A Transmission Last
Generally speaking, the lifespan of a transmission is highly dependent on its design and the vehicle that it’s fitted to. For the most part, a transmission is expected to go beyond 150,000 to 200,000 miles before it requires a thorough rebuild and restoration to keep it going. However, with good care and diligent maintenance, you can extend that lifespan to at least 300,000 miles or greater. Given that the average American travels around 15,000 miles per year, that equates to roughly 20+ years of ownership. Although, if you bought a car that’s known for transmission-related issues, it might not even last beyond 100,000 miles.