Rebuilding transmissions is becoming an endangered skill. There was a time when it was much cheaper to have a tranny rebuilt than to just replace it. As such, technicians who could perform this in-depth repair were plentiful. Transmissions have come a long way since then. They are now filled with electronic sensors, synthetic fluids, and more technical wizardry than a class at Hogwarts. With all the advancement, there are very few technicians left who are truly great at the art of rebuilding a transmission. The ones who are still out there don’t come cheap. Many of them are factory-trained technicians working at dealerships and being billed out at a minimum of $70 per hour, or very skilled technicians working at transmission shops. So how much would it run for these technical wizards to perform miracles on your vehicle’s transmission? Let’s see…
Wait a Second, I Have a Warranty…Why Should I Care How Much It Costs?
That’s true; most new vehicles are now equipped with a minimum 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. However, not all of these 100,000-mile warranties come with time limits that allow them to reach the 100K mark. Some have a five-year limit, others extend all the way to ten years. Depending on your driving habits, you may pass the mileage limit in the first four years and it won’t matter; but if you’re an average driver you’ll see the five-year mark before you even hit 75,000 miles on the odometer. That leaves plenty of life in your vehicle, but no coverage should it suffer the misfortune of a breakdown. There is also fine print to every warranty. Should you lapse on any maintenance items that need kept up, your warranty may become null and void. That’s a tough pill to swallow when you find out your transmission needs an overhaul.
So How Much Would It Cost if I Don’t Have Warranty Coverage?
There are a couple of variables to consider in this case. First, your make and model are going to make a pretty big difference. If you drive a top-end luxury model, you’re probably going to pay more. If you’re in an economy car with the rollup windows, you may be at the lower end of the scale. Figure the more your vehicle costs off the lot, the more you’ll probably spend to have the transmission rebuilt. Of course, there is a huge difference between manual and automatic transmissions as well. Manual trannys are typically less complex and easier to rebuild. Automatic transmissions can be extremely complicated, and typically require a lot more labor time for a complete rebuild. There is also a difference in what gets replaced in an automatic overhaul versus what’s replaced in a manual revamp.
What’s the Difference?
First off, what gets replaced largely depends on what failed and caused the original problem. In either case there will be degradable components that will need to be replaced. Items like gaskets, filters, o-rings, seals, and fluids will be replaced no matter what type of transmission you have. However, since each standard/automatic transmission works in different ways, there will obviously be different components that fail in each type. These differences will largely dictate what parts fail, and what parts get replaced.
So What’s the Bottom Line?
If you’re driving a newer vehicle (say, 2004 and newer), and it’s not a high-end luxury model, you’re going to be in the $1,000 to $1,500 range for a standard rebuild on either an automatic or a manual transmission. Some of the higher-priced vehicles have more electronic controls in the transmission, which could raise the price a bit higher. All in all, the highest a rebuild should ever reach is near the $3,000 mark. Anything above this and you’d be better off with a brand new tranny.
(Please remember that these repair prices can also fluctuate based on geographic location, as well as vehicle make and model; and that these numbers represent averages, not actual prices offered at any specific repair facilities.)