Transmission Internal Gears

Rebuild, Repair or Replace

Rebuild, Repair, and Replace: The Average Costs

Transmission replacement is one of the most expensive jobs done by any mechanic, ranging on average from $1,800 to $3,500. Rebuilds can cost just as much as a replacement, depending on the extent of the damage. The upper end of the range is typically for the replacement of a high end vehicle’s transmission or a complete rebuild after a major mechanical failure. Basic repair jobs are on the lower side, from $1,000 to $2,000. For example, fixing a manual transmission often only requires a new clutch, a $1,000-$1,500 job.

Two ways you can save some money are: buying a used/remanufactured transmission instead of a new one and rebuilding the transmission yourself. These topics are outside the scope of this article and will be covered in a future post.

Factors that Affect the Cost

The cost of transmission repair varies widely based on a number of factors, the most important of which is the type and extent of the repairs being performed by the mechanic. If the transmission needs to be completely replaced or rebuilt, drivers can expect to pay several thousand dollars for parts and skilled labor, while a few minor repairs and a fluid change will only be a couple hundred dollars.

  • It also depends on the make and model of the vehicle, with domestic/standard models costing quite a bit less than high-end or imported vehicles such as BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen.
  • Extent of the damage. What the car has been through can also affect the price as newer cars that have been well maintained will cost less than those that have been through tough times.
  • Considerably older or rarer cars are harder to find parts for, which also increases the cost.
  • Manual transmissions cost less to repair/replace than automatic transmissions.
  • Some shops charge higher prices than others for the same work (due to marketing, location, reputation, etc.)
  • Finally, the driver’s location will contribute a great deal to the overall cost of the procedure. Areas with higher costs of living, higher demand of services and/or lower availability of skilled technicians will charge higher labor costs, escalating the overall price.

As mentioned previously, when deciding whether to rebuild or replace a transmission it is important to know that either option can be more cost effective, depending on how complex and extensive the issues are (it can take a long time to troubleshoot and repair some problems, in which case a replacement would save you money). Making this decision is difficult for the average consumer, which is why it’s so important to…

Find the Right Repair Shop

Due to their complexity and how difficult they are to service, choosing the right mechanic to handle your transmission can make the difference between a long-lasting repair and one of questionable quality. As with any car maintenance, it’s best to get a quote from a certified technician or repair center before making an assumptions. In fact, it’s generally a good idea to gather multiple quotes and compare prices in order to make a sound decision based on quality and value. Do some research both online and locally and to find highly rated shops that have solid reputations. The cheapest service is not always the best option as some repair shops offer unrealistically low prices in order to get you into their shop so they can add hidden/additional fees onto the final price.

Consider getting friends or family to recommend a mechanic who repaired a transmission for them and did quality work. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence has a shop locator for finding a certified mechanic. The Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association (ATRA) has a similar function for finding a shop that follows ATRA’s Code of Ethics. Reputable shops offer a warranties on their services in order to ensure customers’ peace of mind. In fact, a warranty should be the number one thing that drivers look for when choosing a repair shop.

Due to the wide range and severity of problems that can occur and the variance of costs involved, it is advised to get mechanics to explain exactly what is wrong with your transmission and what has to be done to fix it. They should also be able to give you a clear estimate as to what the price will be once they have done basic diagnostic tests.

Finally, drivers should pay attention to the appearance of the repair shop itself. Good repair shops are clean, inviting, and customer-centered. Less attractive options are dirty, poorly operated, and not as focused on the customers they’re supposed to be serving. With careful attention to certifications, warranties, and shop conditions, it’s easy to find a low-cost, high-value transmission repair shop that can get the job done right.

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7 replies
  1. Pam Lassila
    Pam Lassila says:

    My car’s transmission is almost completely not working and I am worried about getting a new one! But I know if I go to the right place, there will be kind people who can repair it for me. I’m glad other people know things about cars because I am clueless when it comes to them! I’m glad I have a professional to fix it instead of my try to and probably make it worse.

    • satucker
      satucker says:

      Hi my name is Bruce,

      First let me assure you we will be totally up front on what your vehicle needs. We will diagnose the problem at no charge. Once we find out what your vehicle needs we will give you a complete run down on what it needs to be returned to optimal working order. We try not to talk in “technician talk”. I will explain everything to you in a way you will be able to understand what is needed. We specialize in the customer experience. We want you to leave knowing you got what you needed only and the work was done to exact standards.
      Please call me at 614-864-7505 with questions or schedule an appointment.

  2. Barnacle
    Barnacle says:

    Strada 2005 Auto 4×4, engine just overhauled, now whilst running in @ 80kph, on slight grade cannot increase rpm past 2000rpm, around 40 / 60kph can’t accelerate, black smoke when attempt to accelarate,
    transmission oil changed during overhaul, this was not evident prior to overhaul?

    input appreciated

  3. Hannah Schroeder
    Hannah Schroeder says:

    You mentioned that rebuilding a transmission can cost as much as replacing the whole thing. My brother is trying to restore our dad’s old Mustang for his 70th birthday, but the transmission is shot. Maybe he should look for auto parts to see whether replacing or rebuilding is less expensive, and if they’re the same, he can decide which he wants to do.

  4. Taylor Bishop
    Taylor Bishop says:

    I’m glad you mentioned in this article to research repair shops in this article. If I needed a transmission repair I know I would want to make sure that I find a place that has a good reputation, even if it costs extra money. This seems like the best way to make sure the job gets done right.


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