Rebuilding vs. Replacing Your Transmission

When you drive a vehicle often for commuting or errands, you may have become accustomed to the sounds and sensations of shifting. In fact, you probably even use these as subconscious signs your vehicle is operating the way it should. 

So when your transmission is experiencing issues, the harsh and sluggish shifts it causes will be hard to ignore. And you shouldn’t ignore them, as these symptoms are telltale signs of issues within your transmission. If not caught early enough, the issues can transpire into complete transmission malfunction. At this point, the damage sustained could require a full transmission replacement. 

In some cases though, the damage may be minimal enough to the point where your transmission can be rebuilt rather than replaced. This option can save you thousands while extending the life of your gearbox. In this article, we’ll cover what a transmission rebuild entails, when it’s feasible, and how much you should expect to pay compared to a full replacement 

Automatic transmission gear selector

Why Do Transmissions Fail?

With the entirety of the engine’s usable power being sent through your gearbox, you can imagine that they put up with a great deal of abuse and wear during normal driving. 

Each component within your transmission is highly dependent on each other, meaning even the smallest issues can disrupt the entire operation of the transmission and in turn result in serious damage or complete failure. 

Common issues like old fluid, leaks, or various other internal problems are all possible reasons for transmission. Transmissions require a constant supply of hydraulic fluid to keep them lubricated and at a safe temperature. When these issues can linger and become more severe, the damage to your transmission will only worsen.

Planetary gears inside Ford transmission
Elacy, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What is a Transmission Rebuild

A transmission rebuild consists of repairing the internals of your transmission following a failure and is often significantly cheaper than a full replacement. Transmissions are one of the most complex systems in any vehicle, and saving yourself the cost of purchasing a replacement is an easy choice for many vehicle owners.

While much cheaper, transmission rebuilds often take longer to complete due to the time needed to pinpoint the source of the issue and replace those components. Along with this, the untouched components in a rebuilt transmission are still just as worn as they were before, meaning another potential failure is more likely in a rebuilt gearbox rather than a replaced one. 

Rebuild vs. Replace

If you’re experiencing symptoms of an internal transmission malfunction, you may be wondering which of these is the better choice for you. This answer depends on a variety of factors, as some circumstances make a rebuild impractical or impossible.

Rebuild

Transmission rebuilds are a great choice for people on a budget, as this service can restore your transmission to feeling like new at a much lower price compared to a full replacement. 

However, this option isn’t without its drawbacks. For one, a rebuilt transmission will be more likely to experience issues in the future due to the remaining original parts after the rebuild Although the original component causing your issue has been replaced, it doesn’t mean that the gearbox has been returned to OEM condition. 

Rebuilds are also only possible in certain circumstances. If the problem has grown in severity to the point of damaging components around it, a rebuild would likely be impractical. Your transmission’s ability to be repaired greatly depends on the specific issue you are experiencing. 

Replacement

While the more expensive path, transmission replacements are the best way to ensure your gearbox is prepared to handle extensive driving and daily use. Not only does this cure the source of your original issue, but it also replaces the various other transmission components that may be nearing the point of malfunction as well. 

As stated earlier, sometimes a full replacement may be your only option. Many transmission malfunctions are simply past the point of repair, even if it’s just begun showing symptoms. 

In other cases, a new transmission may outweigh the price of the entire vehicle. In this situation, it may be a more cost-effective solution to purchase a new vehicle rather than try to salvage an expensive component on an inexpensive car. 

How Much Do Transmission Rebuilds/Replacements Cost?

Now that we’ve addressed the pros and cons of the two remedies, you’re probably wondering what the price difference is between a replacement and a rebuild. 

In general, most automatic transmission replacements can run anywhere between $3,500-$7,000. The true cost depends on factors such as the transmission itself, the vehicle being serviced, and the shop where the work is being completed. 

For instance, commuter vehicles from brands such as Honda, Ford, Toyota, etc. will all have replacement transmissions available for much less than the more complicated gearboxes in European, performance, or off-road vehicles. 

Alternatively, rebuilds forgo much of the cost of a replacement as a new transmission assembly is not needed. Instead, only the components complicit in your transmission’s failure will be replaced. These services usually fall between the $1,000-$2,500 range. 

Transmission Rebuilds & Replacement at Scott’s U-Save

If you need a transmission rebuild or replacement, or need an expert opinion on which to choose, trust the experienced technicians at Scott’s U-Save! Our team has the training and equipment needed to properly inspect and service the transmission system of any make or model. Give us a call or schedule online at one of our three locations today: Steger, New Lenox, and Schererville!

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