Monday, July 15, 2024 Detailed Auto Topics
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When a transmission fails, there are multiple ways the problem may be addressed. Knowing your options may help you decide which is the best for you and what is the difference.

Option One, Transmission Repair:

A transmission repair consists of replacing the minimum amount of parts to make the transmission operational, rather than a rebuild or replacement. When failure causes too much damage within the transmission, repair may not be an option.  However, for many transmission malfunctions, a repair is all that is needed to get many more dependable miles of service.

Transmission Repair Pros 

 Transmission Repair Cons

Lowest cost to get back on the road.Repairs can be expensive. Often times, repairs can reach half of the cost of a rebuild and the warranty only covers the parts replaced.
Less down timeIf a different part of the transmission fails, it could damage the parts just replaced. This would mean that you would need to purchase those parts again.

The type of transmission failure and the number of miles desired from the vehicle will help to determine if a transmission repair is the best option.

Option Two, Transmission Replacement:

If the transmission is damaged too badly for repair, there is the option of replacing.  This could be with a used transmission (salvage yard) or with a re-manufactured transmission (from the vehicle manufacturer).

 Used Transmission Pros

 Used Transmission Cons

Availability – If a salvage yard has an abundance of transmissions that fit your vehicle, the price may be low and delivery time should be quick.Availability – If a salvage yard has a limited quantity of the transmission, this will be reflected in the price. Salvage yards often seek top dollar for a limited transmission.
A used transmission is often much less expensive than a rebuilt transmission and/or a re-manufactured transmission.There are limited ways of knowing what condition the transmission is in and if it was properly maintained.

A good scenario for installing a used transmission, is to simply get the vehicle operational in order to sell or trade.

Option Three, Re-manufactured Transmissions:

Re-manufactured transmissions are mass-produced by the vehicle manufacturer. In recent years, the quality of these transmissions has greatly declined. It is not uncommon to receive one or two units that do not work, before getting one that does. Often internal electrical parts are not replaced in the re-manufactured transmissions. Although the manufacturers "offer" a big warranty, they are very difficult to work with when faced with warranty claims.  Normally a re-manufactured transmission might be considered when time is a major issue or the transmission is too damaged to consider a rebuild.

Option Four, Transmission Rebuild:

The definition of a transmission rebuild will differ from shop to shop. Fairly standard would be the following:

  • All parts disassembled and cleaned
  • All friction lined components replaced (Clutches and Bands)
  • All seals, gaskets, metal and/or Teflon© sealing rings replaced
  • A new or rebuilt torque converter is used
  • All electrical solenoids cleaned and tested or replaced

At AGCO, we take the rebuild process much further.  First we diagnose the root cause of the failure and correct it. Without correcting the root cause, repeat failure is very likely. In addition to a standard rebuild, parts that we have seen with a high rate of failure, are upgraded with more durable parts. Often improved parts are available from suppliers that specialize in this field. We also install shift improvement kits to address various problems found with certain transmissions.

By contrast, if a rebuild only consists of replacement of the failed parts with the same quality part, repeat failures can be expected. Even worse, there are cheaply made replacement parts used by some shops.

Many times, people will call several shops to check prices, in an effort to save money. Price "quotes" from $1,200.00 to $3,000.00 for a transmission rebuild might be received. Why is there such a big difference in price?

In our experience, transmissions in the $1,200.00 price range are usually nothing more than a repair misrepresented as a rebuild.


An accurate price quote cannot be given without a proper diagnosis. A proper diagnosis requires that the vehicle be checked to determine the extent of the damage. A specific quote given over the telephone, prior to the shop checking the car, is a definite red flag. Actual price will always depend on the quality of the replacement parts and the amount and type of damage the transmission has.

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