You’re driving down the road, not a care in the world when suddenly your car starts acting… funny. There’s a slight delay when you step on the gas like your tires are slipping on ice. There are weird clunking sounds when you rev the engine. And that smell – ugh! A burning, almost sweet odor that tells you something is very wrong.
You’re a smart guy (or gal), so you know better than to ignore this problem. You take the car to your local repair shop – and that’s when you hear the one phrase no driver wants to hear:
“Looks like the transmission’s shot.”
It’s enough to make anyone cringe. Even if you know nothing else about cars, you know the transmission is important! You also know that fixing or replacing it can get pretty pricey.
Just how much with this car problem cost? Costs can vary depending on the shop, the degree of damage, and the parts required to rebuild your transmission. On average, rebuilds can cost anywhere from $1,428 to $3,015.
Luckily, you’re in luck – our team is here to help you make the best decision for your car and your wallet! Here is your complete guide to your transmission: what it does, why it can fail, and how much a transmission rebuild can cost.
What Does My Transmission Do?
If you ever owned a multi-speed bike as a kid, you might have a rough understanding of how a transmission works. When you shifted gears on your bike, the chain would move to a higher or lower ring, giving you more or less resistance against which to pedal.
Your transmission does essentially the same thing; as you change gears (either manually or automatically), the transmission makes sure that the right amount of power goes to your wheels. This allows you to accelerate quickly, tow heavy things with your vehicle, and reach maximum RPM without exploding in a blaze of glory.
The transmission is a complicated piece of machinery, with around 800 different parts that keep it functioning properly. It’s also a vital part of your car’s engine – trust me, you DO NOT want to be on the road with a bad transmission! This why transmission problems are such a headache for the average driver (and why repair shops tend to charge through the nose for repairs or rebuilds).
What Causes Transmission Failure?
The easiest way to avoid transmission failure is keep your transmission well-maintained. If the part never breaks down, you never have to worry about rebuilding it! How can you be sure that you’re taking care of your transmission? Just make sure this part is lubricated and clean – and make sure you avoid the typical causes of transmission failure.
The most common reason for transmission failure are:
Low Transmission Fluid: Like many other parts of your engine, your transmission needs fluid to keep it cool and lubricated (you do NOT want metal grinding against metal in there). Having enough fluid in your transmission keeps the piece healthy and prevents damage. If you want to keep your transmission in good condition, you must remember to add transmission fluid to your vehicle every 30,000 to 60,000 miles (15,000 miles if you drive a lot).
Fluid Leakage: The only thing worse than a car with low transmission fluid is one that’s LEAKING transmission fluid. Not only is your transmission losing vital lubrication to protect your gears, you’re dumping valuable fluid right on the ground (and that’s not cheap)! If you notice red fluid in your driveway, that’s a tell-tale sign that your transmission might be in trouble.
A Clogged Fluid Filter: While transmission fluid is essential to keeping your transmission running smoothly, DIRTY transmission fluid can cause trouble for your engine. This is why car manufacturers outfit transmissions with a filter, which keeps the fluid clear of debris or dirt. However, over time this filter can become clogged up – and when that happens, no fluid will be able to get through.
These issues can lead to serious damage and a potential transmission rebuild, but they can easily be fixed if you catch them early enough. It’s important to pay attention to your car and service it when you start to notice that something’s off.
How Do I Know If It’s Time for a Replacement?
Let’s be honest: the average driver doesn’t really know what’s going on with their vehicles. Sure, there are some who can take their engine apart and put it back together with their eyes closed, but most folks? No chance. Most folks only take their car to the shop for two reasons: for routine service (usually after the shop reminds them) and when the car isn’t working properly.
If you wait until your car has overheated or stalled out to visit your local mechanic, you’re bound to pay much, much more for your transmission rebuild. If you want to save your transmission before it’s too damaged, the best thing you can do is watch for the early warning signs of transmission trouble. These signs include:
Problems Shifting Gears: Folks who drive a manual car might have an easier time noticing this issue (automatic drivers don’t always notice when they’re changing gears). But if you notice a delay when you accelerate – like your tires are on ice or stuck in mud – or a jerking sensation when you switch gears, it might be time to get your transmission looked at.
Whining or Clunking Noises: Like we discussed earlier, a lack of fluid is the biggest problem a transmission can have. When this piece isn’t lubricated, the metal gears will grind against each other – and this can cause tremendous damage to your transmission and your engine. If you hear a whining, grinding, or clunking noise while you’re driving, that’s a clear sign that your transmission needs attention.
Leaking Transmission Fluid: If you notice red fluid in your driveway, call your mechanic right away. If you notice that the red fluid is cloudy, call even faster! Leaking transmission fluid is a definite sign that there’s a problem with your transmission, and the sooner you get it repaired, the less likely you are to need a whole transmission rebuild.
Burning Odor: In addition to its red color, transmission fluid has a distinct, sweet scent. If there’s not enough fluid in your transmission, the little bit left in the piece can overheat while you drive. This results in a strong burning smell that is most noticeable when you get out of the car.
If you notice that your vehicle has any of these symptoms, take a deep breath. It’s likely you’ll need to look into transmission repair, or a full transmission rebuild.
Do I Really NEED to Fix My Transmission?
Seriously. Yes. This is not a car issue you can just ignore as long as possible. If you try to drive your vehicle with a bad transmission, you are putting your entire engine at risk. See, as the transmission works, the gears in it grind together – and if your transmission is in bad shape, it will inevitably chip off metal shavings and toss them into your coolant. This is a recipe for disaster, and it can ultimately cost you more than a transmission rebuild will.
What Happens During a Transmission Rebuild?
Remember when I said that your transmission has 800 different pieces inside it? Each of these pieces are necessary to keep your transmission healthy. If even one piece is damaged, your transmission won’t work as well as it could. This is why most mechanics will recommend a full rebuild when you’re having transmission trouble.
When you get a transmission rebuild, your mechanic takes your entire transmission apart and inspects every little part. This helps him determine which pieces are worn down, which ones are damaged beyond repair, and which ones can be salvaged. It is a very complicated process, one that the average driver can’t do on their own – and this is exactly why so many mechanics charge the big bucks to do it!
How Much Will This Cost?
Like I said at the start of this article, there’s no way to know for sure what your transmission rebuild will cost. Different mechanics charge different prices depending on the labor involved, the number of pieces that need to be replaced, and about a million other factors. But there is one thing I can say: a transmission rebuild is never cheap. Like I mentioned earlier, rebuilds can cost anywhere from $1,428 to $3,015.
Tips for Saving Money on Your Transmission Rebuild
Obviously, not all of us have three grand to drop on our cars at a moment’s notice. But if your transmission is damaged, there’s really not much else you can do. This is a truly essential part of your vehicle; once your transmission has gone bad, your car is basically out of commission.
So, how can you get your car running again without going totally broke in the process? There are a few options that can help you mitigate the costs from your mechanic.
Here are a few tips to help you save money on your transmission repair cost:
Use Your Warranty: Most cars are under warranty for the first three years (or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first) that a driver owns it. If your car is still under warranty, take it into your dealer to see if the damage is covered. If you’ve followed the terms of the warranty – for example, if you’ve followed your car’s maintenance schedule – you might get your transmission rebuild covered by the manufacturer.
The DIY Approach: If you really don’t want to pay someone else to rebuild your transmission, you can always try to do it yourself. However, this is obviously not a task for the average driver (remember, 800 PARTS). Transmission rebuilds are very complex, and if you don’t know what you’re doing you can easily cause more damage to your car in the long run.
Consider a Used Transmission: If your transmission appears to be too damaged to use, it might not be worth it to spend the time and money doing a full rebuild. Instead, consider purchasing a used transmission and having your mechanic install it. Used transmissions cost between $800 and $1400, and installation costs can average between $400 and $800. While this is certainly not a cheap option ($2,200 on the high end), it is still cheaper than many full rebuilds.
Pay Attention to Your Transmission: As I mentioned before, the best way to make sure you don’t need a transmission rebuild is to keep your transmission in great shape. Pay attention to your vehicle: keep your ears open for strange noises, sniff around for burning smells, and change your transmission fluid at regular intervals. This will help keep your transmission healthy and can keep costly transmission rebuilds at bay for much longer.
If your car’s transmission fails, there’s only one option: pay a whole lot of money to have it fixed. Even if you avoid the massive transmission rebuild cost, you’ll still have to pay for a new transmission. It’s a bummer, but there’s nothing else you can do… right?
Not exactly. If you have an older car or a junk car (the kind of car that isn’t worth the cost of a new transmission), there is another option available to you: you can sell it to us.
At CashCarsBuyer, we’ll take your old or junk car (whether or not it’s running) and give you cash that very day! Our team will give you a free estimate, pick up the car at your home, and pay you right away. No one can beat our offers, and no one makes the process easier. When you sell your vehicle to CashCarsBuyer, there’s no way you can lose!
Want to learn more about selling your car today? Call us at (844) 663-7286 or click here to send us an email. Our friendly representatives are here to help you get the most cash for your car, so you don’t have to rely on a junk vehicle ever again.