Your car’s transmission is one of the most critical and complex components to your entire vehicle. Without a working transmission, your engine might run, but the car would just sit and not move. That’s not going to do you much good, and it certainly won’t get you where you need to go!
Due to the complexity of these parts, repairing a transmission can be an extremely costly job. If your transmission is starting to give you problems, then you need to quickly determine your next steps. How bad is the damage? Should you repair or replace it? Is this a job that you can perform yourself? Or, should you just sell your car and get a new one that doesn’t have problems? We’ll help you answer all those questions plus a few more – just keep reading!
Table of Contents
- What Does It Cost to Repair/Replace or Rebuild Your Transmission?
- Symptoms of a Failing Transmission
What Does It Cost to Repair/Replace or Rebuild Your Transmission?
There are many factors that go into answering this question, and we’ll try to cover them all here so that you can make the most informed decision about what to do with your car. First, let’s take a look at the average cost for some very basic repairs. If your vehicle’s transmission has just started having some minor issues like slight transmission slipping, then it’s possible that the fix might be as simple as a fluid change.
Let’s start out with the basics for automatic transmissions – we’ll take a look at manual transmission costs later in this section. When it comes to an automatic transmission fluid change, you have a couple of options:
- Fluid Change
- Fluid Flush
There are pros and cons to each, and people often argue over a fluid change versus a fluid flush. The traditional fluid change is usually the cheapest option, and it can often fix minor transmission problems. Like other automotive fluids, transmission fluid breaks down over time and no longer provides the cooling and lubricating properties that it once did. Just like your engine oil, this fluid must be changed on a regular interval to keep your transmission in proper working order.
Most mechanics recommend changing your transmission fluid every 40,000 – 50,000 miles. Of course, this can vary based on your specific driving habits and the make and model of your vehicle. You should always consult your owner’s manual for your manufacturer’s recommendation.
Now, let’s discuss the first option – the traditional fluid change. This works much like an oil change in that the transmission fluid is drained from the transmission and replaced with new fluid. Some transmissions even have drain plugs that allow for easy draining of the old fluid.
For cars without a drain plug, the transmission pan must be removed for draining of the fluid. This can be quite a messy procedure, so make sure that you know what you’re doing before attempting this on your own! If you’re willing to get a little messy, you can change the fluid in your car yourself for around $50-$60. This is just the cost of the new fluid plus a new filter and pan gasket.
If you take your vehicle to a shop to have the work performed, you can expect to pay around $100 – $125 for the job. You’ll obviously still need to pay for the same materials, but you can expect about an hour of labor to be added as well.
Another option for changing the fluid is the fluid flush. In the traditional drain and fill method, all the old fluid does not get removed from the transmission. As much as 30% of the old fluid still remains in the torque converter and other components of the transmission. The flushing method solves this problem. This method allows the old fluid to cycle out of the transmission as fresh fluid is pumped in. Some people believe that this method is not good for older transmissions because it can dislodge tiny particles and push them into places they should not be inside the transmission.
If you opt for the transmission flush, then you can expect to pay around $150 – $250. While you can perform this yourself, it can be a little complicated and messy, so the low cost of a fluid flush usually prompts most people to have it performed at a mechanic. Also, you can destroy your transmission if you allow it to run without fluid, so this can be a dangerous procedure for beginners.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about your options if you have bigger problems that fresh fluid won’t solve. Perhaps you’re having severe slipping or bad shifting problems. Unfortunately, these larger repairs are going to require you to get out your wallet. Some of them will likely be in the thousands of dollars.
If you’re lucky, the mechanic might tell you that your shift solenoid is bad and needs replacing. This is much better news than a complete rebuild or replacement. Replacing the solenoid is still a complex job, but it will only set you back around $200 – $400 in most cases. This might sound like a lot, but it’s relatively low compared to a transmission rebuild or replacement.
Let’s continue our discussion as we go from bad to worse…the mechanic might tell you that your transmission needs rebuilding. In this case, you’re probably going to spend anywhere from $600 – $1800 for the repair. Automatic transmissions are very complex, and they require time and expertise to get right. They have numerous internal parts that must be precisely repaired to function properly.
Modern automatic transmissions have as many as 9 gears or more, which only adds to the complexity of today’s cars. Internal clutches and bands must be checked and repaired, and everything must be put back together perfectly to avoid future problems. This causes the labor costs associated with a rebuild to be quite high.
Thankfully, a rebuilt transmission is usually almost as good as new. Most repair shops even provide a warranty on their work, so they guarantee that the transmission will last for a certain period of time or number of miles. We understand that most people cannot pay thousands of dollars for a repair like this, so you should consider selling your car to Auto Wranglers instead to put some cash in your pocket and just buy yourself a new car.
You might be wondering how to rebuild a transmission because you want to do the job yourself. You should know that is not something you should attempt unless you are a highly experienced mechanic. You will likely end up getting stuck part of the way through and paying even more for a mechanic to fix what you messed up!
Finally, we’re getting to the worst and most expensive of them all. Entire transmission replacement. This may be necessary if your old transmission is ruined so bad that it cannot be rebuilt. If there is major damage to the internal parts, then it’s often not possible to rebuild it.
A new transmission ranges anywhere from $2,000 – $4,500 for most cars today plus labor costs associated with the work for removing the old one and replacing it! High end cars like a BMW or Mercedes can cost you over $8,000 to have the transmission replaced.
As you can see, transmission replacement costs at an auto repair shop are expensive due to the cost of new transmissions plus the labor! Average prices run several thousand dollars, so some people opt to install a remanufactured transmission instead of a new one. This can save you a little money on the transmission itself because remanned transmission prices are a little lower than new, but the cost of labor will be about the same. Purchasing a remanufactured transmission can save you anywhere from $500 – $1500 over a new one, and most of them also include a warranty.
While it is possible to install a used transmission instead of a new one, finding the correct one is usually the problem. Many transmission repair shops will buy used transmissions from old cars that are still in good shape because they can resell them to people who need their transmission replaced. Transmissions in good condition are quite valuable, so that’s why it can be tough to find them sometimes.
If you’ve experienced a transmission failure, then deciding the best route forward can be difficult. Pricing on the different repair options is obviously a big factor, but there are other considerations as well. If you only need minor repairs and your car is in otherwise good shape, then it’s probably worth spending a few hundred dollars to keep your car going.
However, if your car is constantly in the shop or is already on its last leg, then it doesn’t make sense to sink thousands of dollars for transmission rebuild costs into it at the dealership. You would be better off selling your car for cash to Auto Wranglers. We will buy it regardless of its condition and put cash in your pocket. This will let you buy yourself a new car instead of worrying about how you’re going to repair that old one.
So far, we’ve only discussed automatic transmission, but what if you have a manual tranny? Lucky for you, they’re not quite as complicated! Which also means that they are not quite as expensive to repair. Manual transmissions tend to have catastrophic failures less often, and the repair is not usually as difficult.
A manual transmission can often be repaired by simply replacing the clutch. This job can usually be done by your local mechanic for around $150 – $300. Even if you have to do a total replacement of your transmission, you still will be thankful for the lower price of the manual. You are likely to pay somewhere between $1,500 – $3,000 for the replacement, which is still less than replacement of its automatic counterpart.
Symptoms of a Failing Transmission
If you suspect your transmission may be on its last leg, there are things you can look for that will give it away! Some of the most common symptoms include:
If it feels like your car is going in and out of gear as you drive, this is your transmission slipping. This can happen when the bands inside your tranny are no longer tight. When the bands become loose, they no longer grip the clutches and gears constantly as they should. This causes them to lose their grip and the gears stop spinning until the band re-grips again. Slipping is a sure sign of problems, and you should have it checked right away.
- Low Fluid
It is important to always keep a close eye on all your vehicle’s fluid levels, but especially your engine oil and transmission fluid levels. If you notice the fluid getting low, then there are only a couple of possible causes. The first is a leak, which is a definite problem. The other is your fluid actually burning and evaporating.
Both of these are big problems because your transmission relies on the fluid to help remove help and keep the internal parts lubricated. Heat is one of the biggest enemies of a properly running transmission, so a low fluid level can destroy a transmission quickly. You should immediately refill the fluid to the proper level and have a mechanic examine your transmission to determine the cause of the low level.
- Burned Fluid
When you check your fluid level, you should also look at the color and consistency of the fluid. Your fluid should be a bright pink/reddish color and a liquid consistency like oil. If you notice your fluid is dark and/or thick and sludgy, you should have it changed right away. Old fluid no longer removes heat and lubricates internal parts, so it is not doing its job in protecting your transmission. New fluid will make a big difference in the performance of your transmission and help extend its life.
- Improper Shifting
This likely points to some internal problems or damage. If you notice that you’re driving along and your car does not shift properly, then your transmission has some issues. Perhaps it skips gears or takes too long to shift out of a gear. It might be that it momentarily hangs in between gear shifts and the RPMs on your car go way up between shifts. None of those things are normal, and you should have them checked. It could be as simple as the shift solenoid, or it might be bigger problems that require a more involved fix.
- Won’t Go Into Reverse
If your car won’t go into reverse (or drive for that matter), then this is an obvious sign of a failing transmission. Your car should gently, but firmly, shift into any gear in the range of your vehicle. Not going into gear usually signals a pretty big problem, although not always.
- Burning Smell
A burning smell coming from your transmission is never good. This usually means that your transmission is getting too hot, and internal damage has likely occurred. It could be due to old or low fluid or internal parts could be producing more friction than they should due to another problem. If you notice this smell, then check your fluid right away to determine whether it’s low or old. If so, then start with a fluid change at a minimum. If you notice any other symptoms, then you might have to do additional repairs.
A bad transmission is usually something that is pretty obvious as you’re driving your car. If you notice any of the symptoms above, then you should have things checked out to avoid doing any further damage. If it’s already too late, then you’re probably better off selling your car altogether. We buy cars throughout the country, and we would love to buy yours too. We’ll make you an instant cash offer and provide free towing even if your transmission is completely shot!
We all know that your transmission is a vitally important part of your car. Depending on the severity of your transmission problem, you may have to spend a few hundred to several thousand dollars for the repair. In some cases, you might even have to completely replace the transmission to get things right again! New transmission costs are extremely high, so the cost to replace transmissions is one of the most expensive repairs you might encounter as a car owner.
Even on an old Toyota or Honda, you’re looking at thousands of dollars for a replacement. Don’t even mention high-end vehicles! You could easily pay over $8,000 for that repair on a high-end car. If you discover that your issue is not a simple fix, then don’t stress yourself over a huge repair bill! Come to Auto Wranglers and let us buy your car for cash! We’ll provide free towing and put some money in your pocket so that you can purchase a new ride.