Sometimes when there are issues with your transmission, you are not sure how to tackle the problem. Are the issues so big that you will need an entirely new transmission, resulting in a replacement? Or are they maybe fixable and you just need to change out a few components, meaning you could get away with a transmission rebuild?
Here we will go over the pros and cons of each and in what situations you could find yourself eligible for either a transmission rebuild or replacement. Everyone knows having trouble with a car's transmission can be costly, stressful, and time consuming. When your vehicle stops working properly, the next step is to figure out how you can address the issues, what has caused the problem, and if you need a replacement or a rebuild.
Once you have figured out the conclusion as to what needs to be fixed within the transmission system, this can lead to your next steps. Make sure that if you are going to bring your car to a mechanic that you trust the shop, you have worked with them before, and you know they are a reputable and reliable source.
Further, even though this is going to take a lot of money out of your pocket, it is completely necessary to the running and the safety of your vehicle. A repair shop that knows how to correctly figure out the transmission’s issue and how to fix it is well worth the money you will pay.
Transmission Rebuild vs. Replacement
The first option you have to fix a transmission is to have it repaired” or rebuilt. Having the option to do a repair is oftentimes, unfortunately, not as likely for most situations and drivers. The parts that have gone bad will usually cause too much damage to the entire system, meaning that a repair is almost impossible, and the replacement is the only option.
When trying to repair a transmission, you are replacing the minimum amount of parts to save money, keep the rest of the expensive parts in good and working order, and keep the transmission within the vehicle. This generally costs less, so make sure that you get the right diagnosis for your car the first time around so you can potentially save money if the rebuild is in your future.
The second option to fix your transmission is a replacement. This is taking out the old transmission and replacing it with an entirely new one, which can be very costly and time consuming.
A transmission replacement is the most expensive option when you're tasked with fixing your transmission. The manufacturer will have to replace every single part that has become damaged or gone bad over time with new and modified parts. Furthermore, the replacement is redone in a factory setting. This is a positive because the people who will be working on your car have a specific skill set tailored to your car and they know exactly what to do. However, this is a very costly procedure to have done on your car.
Why choose rebuild vs. replace?
A transmission rebuild is possibly the best option for most people who need to fix their transmission. You are only replacing the parts that have failed over time, meaning you are saving money by preventing having your car shipped to a factory to have it done, and you are saving money since the entire mechanism will not need to be changed. Just like a replacement, you are fixing certain parts, but avoiding doing it in a factory setting.
A transmission rebuild will be less costly and not done on the factory level. In addition, you or the mechanic will be putting in new parts like the seals, gaskets, clutch, and bands. When you look at a worn out or damaged transmission, these are generally the parts that are worn out when the transmission is faulty. The auto repair shop will have to take apart the transmission and clean the parts before considering whether to put them back in or not. Then, a new torque converter is added and solenoids will be replaced.
The solenoids direct transmission fluid into the valve body to make sure the correct gear is engaged. If one of these valves fail, then this can cause a lot of transmission problems. If you are experiencing erratic shifting, the transmission won’t downshift, and a severe shifting delay, then the solenoids might be the culprit.
Once all of this is finished, the transmission will be put back together and reinstalled into your vehicle. This is a huge process, so make sure you have a local, reputable, and professional mechanic who knows the ins and outs of your specific car.
Signs You Need Transmission Repair
Although it might happen sooner for some vehicle types than others, eventually all cars will need some type of transmission repair at some point – whether it is a transmission rebuild vs. replacement. The service that needs to be done depends on how long the car has been driven on with transmission issues and how much damage this has caused.
Fortunately, there are many signs in your vehicle when the transmission starts to fail. Recognizing these signs can save you a lot of money in the long run and maybe prevent a transmission replacement. The key is to pay attention to these symptoms when they occur and recognize when you might need a transmission repair, rebuild, or replacement.
Problems with Shifting Gears
Since your car’s gears are a huge part of the transmission and the shifting process, issues with shifting gears are a clear sign that there is a problem with your transmission. Symptoms of gear issues can be hesitation when the car is going into a new gear, falling out of gear while you are driving, shifting gears unintentionally and randomly, and jerking while shifting gears.
Since these are all intense problems, you should bring your car to a transmission repair specialist as soon as possible. Having your car change gears while driving at high speeds could be a potentially very dangerous issue. If you let this problem go on for too long, you might have to get a full transmission replacement instead of just a transmission rebuild.
Grinding Between Gears
When you try to shift or change gears, if a grinding sound occurs in manual transmissions, or a shaking occurs in automatic transmissions, this can be a sign of a worn clutch.
Loud Noises and “Whining”
Transmission trouble is usually accompanied by loud noises and whining sounds, clunks, or buzzing sounds coming from the underbelly of your vehicle. Also, if your car makes a lot of noise while you are in neutral, this is a sign that you need your car to be looked at very soon. However, although other problems other than the transmission can cause these small noises, it is best to get it checked to be on the safe side.
Another clear sign that there is something wrong with your transmission is a burning smell that is easy to discern when you exit the vehicle. Also, you can oftentimes see the fluid gathering in a puddle beneath your car. The result of this is that the gears can overheat due to excessive friction and a high temperature production.
Leaking Transmission Fluid
Transmission fluid leak differs from others like coolant or oil by the color – it is bright red, so it is easy to tell when you have a clear transmission issue. If you see this, take your car to an auto repair shop right away. If you continue to let this leak, it can cause further damage, and require a transmission replacement instead of a rebuild.
How To Save Money on Transmission Rebuild vs. Repair
As we know, fixing a transmission is no easy, simple, or inexpensive task. However, a rebuild might save you a few bucks in the long run. Furthermore, there are some steps you can take to save some money on the entire process if you are feeling like you have the proper tools and knowledge to tackle this issue yourself.
The DIY Approach: If you feel confident in your mechanic skills and you don't’ want to pay someone else to rebuild your transmission, then you can try to do this yourself. However, if you have no previous experience with car parts and automobile builds, then this would not be the first task to try. Transmission rebuilds are complex, and you can end up doing more harm than good if you don't’ know what you are doing.
Consider Buying a Used Transmission: Another way you can save some money and still fix your transmission issues is to purchase a used transmission and have your mechanic install it. Used transmissions are cheaper than new ones, and run between $800-$1,400, with the installation and labor costs ranging between $400 to $800. Although this is not very inexpensive when you add these two expenses together, since they come in at over $2,000, it is cheaper than rebuilds or replacements.
Keep Maintenance Going: The best way to prevent the necessity of a rebuild or replacement on your transmission is to keep it in good shape and pay attention to the way your car runs, the way your car shifts, and any sounds coming from underneath the hood. Pay attention to the smells, and change your transmission fluid at the regular intervals prescribed by your mechanic or manufacturer. This can keep your transmission healthy and prevent the need for any transmission rebuilds vs. replacements.
Transmission Rebuild vs. Replacement Cost
So, now you are wondering how much this rebuild or replacement is going to cost you – and if you are going to need to take out a loan to pay for the fix. Alit is good to keep in mind that the costs you will pay depend on the shop, the degree of damage, and the parts that are required to rebuild your transmission. As an average number, rebuilding a transmission can cost from $1,428-$3,015. The low comes in at $1,100, with the average being $1,950, and the high being just below 3 grand at $2,800.
Regarding a transmission replacement, the low price for a transmission is about $1,500, with the average being $2,500, and the high coming in at around $3,500.
Facts That Affect Cost
As we know, there are many variables that ffet the cost of how much you will pay for a rebuild or replacement of your transmission. The