Should You Repair, Rebuild, or Replace Your Car’s Transmission?

If you are having trouble with your transmission, you know how important it is to have it looked at right away. After all, simple problems can be repaired. However, if you leave the problem unresolved, you could quickly be looking at a transmission rebuild or replacement. How do you know what type of service to get? Should you repair, rebuild or replace your car’s transmission?

Transmission repairs are reserved for smaller issues. It can be done if the part needing replacement is on the surface of the transmission. Rebuilding the transmission involves replacing all of the worn-out parts, while replacement entails swapping it out for a new or used transmission. 

There’s a time and a place for each option. This guide will review when you want to choose the repair, rebuild or replacement and discuss signs that something is wrong with the transmission. 

When You Need a Transmission Repair

The car transmission is made up of several components, some large and others small. Even the smallest component is deemed essential to keep the transmission running correctly. With transmission repair, just the part that is broken gets replaced.

These repairs are often best if the issue is found on the surface level. Technicians don’t want to disassemble the transmission and spend hours trying to get inside for a repair. Even if they did, this cost could become just as high as the other options. 

On the other hand, a transmission repair won’t always solve the problem. You could replace a part, thinking that is going to fix it, only to find out that there were other issues. Plus, if your transmission has a lot of miles on it, something else could break shortly after the repair. 

When You Need a Transmission Rebuild

With the transmission rebuild, the tech takes apart the whole transmission. As the transmission is apart, each part is inspected for wear and damage. If any issues are discovered, the part is replaced or repaired. Additionally, all of the components are cleaned.

Once everything is back in running order, the technician rebuilds the transmission and puts it back in your vehicle. Obviously, this process involves many hours of labor and the worker must be willing to pay attention to every detail. In some cases, it will be discovered that the transmission has too many issues to be rebuilt, but only after an inspection is done. In this case, you will be better off replacing it.

When You Need a Transmission Replacement

While it seems scary, there will be times when replacing the transmission is the best choice. However, this option brings with it even more choices. You have to pick between a new, remanufactured or refurbished transmission for your vehicle.

New transmissions can be hard to come by and aren’t usually needed. Plus, the cost will be far more than the other options. Transmission shops will refurbish a used part from salvage yards and make them like new again. This transmission won’t have issues and should provide you with many more miles of service. 

Top Transmission Issues

1. Trouble Shifting Gears

The transmission must shift seamlessly between gears to give you the ride you are looking for. When the gears aren’t shifting correctly, you might notice some hesitation or jerking during gear changes.

In some cases, these transmissions can be rebuilt. However, if too many components become damaged, a replacement will be needed instead. 

2. Grinding Gears

If you have a manual transmission, you are responsible for shifting gears on your own. Unless you are doing something wrong, there shouldn’t be noises during gear changes. 

If the gears begin to grind, the clutch could be worn. On the other hand, the clutch can also go bad in an automatic transmission, leading to a shaking sensation. 

3. Loud Whining Noise

Noises are synonymous with failing transmissions. If you hear a loud, whining noise, it’s a sign of trouble. However, you could also hear buzzing or clunking sounds. 

If the transmission is making a lot of noise while in Neutral, you need to have it looked at right away. Still, you should never ignore any sound, especially because it might be able to be repaired before a major failure occurs. 

4. Leaking Fluid

It’s not difficult to tell when the transmission fluid is leaking because it is bright red. Some transmission fluid leaks are simple to repair.

However, when you let the leak go, you allow damage to occur to the transmission, especially if the fluid gets low. What could have been a simple repair will quickly turn into the need for a replacement. 

5. Burning Smell

If you are driving down the road and smell something burning, it’s a clear sign that something is wrong. The problem could be the clutch, but there are lots of other components that might have failed. 

Look under the vehicle to see if there is any fluid leaking. Without the proper amount of fluid, the gears will overheat and more friction will occur. 

Cost of Transmission Repair vs. Rebuild vs. Replacement

Transmission repair can vary in price based on what part needs to be serviced. You might spend between $300 and $1,500. If the transmission needs to be rebuilt, the cost can be anywhere from $1,400 to $3,500. 

The most expensive option is to have the transmission replaced. On the low end, you might only spend $1,500, but a refurbished transmission can easily cost $4,000 or more, depending on the vehicle you drive. 

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