Transmission Options

So you are looking at your options of  whether you should repair, rebuild or replace your transmission, or maybe you’re thinking it might be better to simply buy a new car. To help you make this important and often time-sensitive decision, this blog outlines some options you have to choose from once you know that your transmission needs help.

In This Blog

  1. Junk the Car
  2. Sell it or trade it in
  3. Used Transmission Locally
  4. Used Transmission Online
  5. Rebuild by Local Shop
  6. Re-manufactured Locally
  7. Re-manufactured Online
  8. Dealership
  9. Repair or Replace Your Car

1) Junk the Car (or Just Let it Sit)

If your vehicle is 20+ years old and has over 200,000 miles on it, then the cost of repair or replacement is most likely higher than the value of the vehicle. In this case, it’s typically not worth getting the car fixed unless it holds significant sentimental value.  This option is cheaper then buying new and has the warranty so it is worth looking into for pricing.  The cost will be more then the car is worth but is it cheaper then replacing it?

Owners of newer cars can find themselves in this situation as well. For example, it can cost between $3000 and $4000 to fix the CVT transmission in a 10 year old 2005 Ford Freestyle when the value of the car is less than $4000.  Again, don’t look at the value of the car vs the cost to repair, look at the cost to repair vs cost to replace the vehicle completely.

2) Trade Car In at Dealer or List for Sale on Craigslist

A car dealer will pay you a small amount (typically around $500 to $1500) for a car with a transmission problem, depending on the year/make/model, mileage and book value. The dealer will usually have a transmission repair shop do minor repairs or replace the transmission with a used unit to get the vehicle running again.
Alternatively, you can list it for sale on Craigslist. Repair shops, junkyards, dealers and hobbyists buy vehicles with bad transmissions constantly to either fix or part them out.

3) Buy Used Transmission Through a Local Shop

Used TransmissionA general repair shop will find, purchase and install a used transmission in your car. This is a cheap, hands-off option, and saves you the cost of replacing your vehicle.

Unit price range: $400 to $1600, Labor & Fluid: $400 to $800
Warranty: 90 days to 18 months

4) Buy a Used Transmission Online or From a Junkyard

You can buy a used transmission from a local junkyard or online and have it shipped to a repair shop for installation. This is the most affordable option, but it is also the highest risk as shops don’t warranty transmissions that aren’t supplied by them. There is no recourse if the unit turns out to be faulty and fails soon after it’s installed. Pro tips on buying a used transmission, find a local transmission shop you trust and let them do the work on your vehicle.

Unit price range: $400 to $1600, Labor & Fluid: $400 to $800
Warranty: None

5) Transmission Rebuild by a Local Transmission Shop

One of the most popular choices is to take the vehicle to a local transmission shop and have the transmission rebuilt. They will remove the transmission, take it apart, clean all the parts, replace the worn out/failed parts including clutch plates and bands, seals, gaskets and solenoids, put it all back together again and finally re-install it.

The cost of an average rebuild usually ranges from $1500 to $4500 (some higher end cars can be $7500+). The range is so wide because it depends heavily on what was wrong with the transmission and what caused the failure. The final price could be higher or lower than the price initially quoted by the shop as it’s very difficult to determine the extent of the damage/problem until the transmission has been removed and disassembled.

Another potential drawback is that there is no way to tell if the shop did a thorough and complete job or simply patched the transmission (did the minimum amount of work to get it back on the road). This is why it’s so important to find a quality repair shop that will give you an honest estimated price range, stick to it and do the work they said they would.

Cost range: $1500 to $4500
Warranty: 1 to 2 years

6) Buy Remanufactured Transmission Through a Local Repair Shop

Another popular option is to have a general/transmission repair shop find, purchase and install a remanufactured transmission. This is a convenient option because the shop handles the entire process, but just like the used transmission in option 3 above, you’ll pay for the parts markup the shop applies to the unit for finding and buying it. If you want to save some money by eliminating this markup, consider option 7 below. If you’re wondering, here is the difference between a rebuild and remanufactured transmission.

Price range (incl. labor): $2500 to $3500
Warranty: 3 years, 100,000 miles or unlimited miles, nationwide.

7) Buy a Remanufactured Transmission Factory Direct

You can purchase the remanufactured transmission factory direct and have it shipped to a local repair shop for installation. This may take a little extra time (because you have to find a local shop willing to install the transmission you have shipped to them) but you can save by avoiding the repair shop’s parts markup by $300 – $900 and save hundreds of dollars.

Transmission Price: $1300 to $3500
Install Labor: $500 to $900
Warranty: 3 years, unlimited miles, nationwide, transferable.

8) Buy A Remanufactured Transmission Through A Dealership

You can also take your car to your local dealership to have them find and install a remanufactured transmission direct from the OEM. This is the most expensive option – it typically costs $1800 to $2800 for the transmission itself plus labor at $100 to $150 per hour to install it.  Very expensive.

Call 303-569-6191 for free quotes!