What Does Replacing or Repairing a Transmission Cost?

Nobody wants transmission problems. They are expensive to fix, even more expensive to replace, and are no easy "DIY" task. Below, we cover what makes transmission issues the most expensive to fix, which vehicles are most prone to transmission problems, and what you can expect to be paying your mechanic!

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How Much Does It Cost to Fix or Replace Your Transmission?

Your car’s transmission is essential in getting you from A to B. Without the transmission you wouldn’t have power that goes from the wheels to actually put them in motion. Your transmission works by shifting the gears similarly to a bicycle. When it comes to a bicycle, if the chain is off, the bike won’t go. If the chain is in too high of gear it won’t move, which means essentially the bike cannot “start.” This can be applied to a car transmission as well. If you do not keep it well maintained you will lose fuel economy or maybe not even be able to drive at all. But how much does a transmission cost, and how much does a transmission service cost?

Do You Have a Manual or Automatic Transmission?

Generally, there are two types of car transmissions, automatic and manual. Manual transmissions are also referred to as a stick shift. When compared, a manual transmission is really just a more powerful version of a bicycle’s shifter. There is no chain in your car, but every time you wish to drive the engine and transmission have to be temporarily disconnected in order to shift. The “clutch” disconnects the engine and transmission so that you are able to adjust the gear shifter.

There are many things that go along with the clutch, such as how much to replace a clutch, the clutch replacement cost, a torque converter clutch solenoid replacement cost, and the clutch repair cost. This is not something you need to worry about with an automatic transmission.

Automatic transmissions work a bit differently. Rather than shift the gear yourself, the car does it automatically. When driving an automatic transmission car you might notice the sound of the engine going higher or lower with acceleration. This is because a lower gear will struggle when pushed to higher speeds.

Cars with automatic transmission have a piece called a torque converter. This allows you to drive without focusing on shifting the gears. It does it automatically. The torque converter replacement cost and torque converter repair cost are separate from that of the transmission repair cost because it is one single part.

How Much Does Transmission Repair Cost?

Transmission problems are expensive. The average cost to replace transmission can cost around $2,600, but ranges from $1,800 to $3,400. Repairs are a bit less expensive, averaging $900, but might be anywhere from $300 to $1,500 depending on the issue. For example, clutches may cost around $1,150, while a major blown transmission repair cost can easily be anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 for only the labor hours to replace the transmission.

How to Know You Have a Bad Transmission

Generally, there are a few main problems when it comes to a bad transmission that can give you a clue into what is going on with your car:

  • Shifting Gears without warning
  • Delay when putting the car into a new gear
  • Gear falls out while driving
  • Sudden shifting
  • Jerking vehicle while shifting gears

These can be easily understood by knowing the visual, auditory, and smells that can indicate a problem.

What to Look For

  • Check engine light: Although this light may not specifically tell you that you have transmission problems, it can give you an indication that something is wrong. Although it can mean anything, even a faulty air flow sensor, or an issue with your spark plugs, it may be the only sign you have of a problem.
  • Slipping gears: When your gears are slipping this is a huge problem. This is one of the transmission's most important jobs. When your transmission fails it can allow it to slip to neutral and severely affect your ability to control acceleration. Your car might even feel like it needs a push to go. Although this is not something you necessarily see, it is something that you can feel and need to be aware of. Transmission slipping fix cost can also be expensive, so how much does it cost to fix a slipping transmission?
  • Leaking fluid: Fluid should never be obviously leaking from your car. If this happens, it means there is an issue. Transmission fluid is usually red and has a sweet smell. If it is leaking it will usually be from the center of the car. This might be because of an issue with a seal, or a gasket, but it could also be a crack in your transmission pan or damaged bell housings. It is always good to get this checked out.
  • Poor transitions: Because the gears in your car are always shifting, random surges of power or grinding noises may be a sign that your transmission is troubled. If you feel like your car has resistance, almost as if it is attached to a bungee cord, then you should get your car looked at. Any type of slipping, grinding, or jumping during acceleration is a transmission problem.

What to Listen For

If your car is sitting in neutral or accelerating, it should not make a lot of noise. Any type of grinding, bumping, or odd noises are not normal. This might signify low transmission fluid or something much worse such as worn bearings or gear teeth. Any weird noises should signify a time to get your transmission looked at.

What to Smell For

With any part of your car, a burning smell is not something you want. Fresh transmission fluid smells somewhat sweet or tart. Burning usually signifies overheating or low transmission fluid. If there is low transmission fluid then it means you have a leak which brings you to another issue. When that smell turns burnt, your transmission fluid has broken down which means that your system is too hot. This can cause corrosive activity in the engine. It is easily fixed by flushing out the fluid and changing it, or repairing the leak if necessary. This is an essential course of action to take because otherwise, it could completely destroy your transmission.

Common Cars With Transmission Issues

When buying a car you most likely look for one that won’t break down and will cost you minimal in maintenance. However, this is not always something that you can be aware of before purchasing. By doing some research you can inform yourself of what car to buy to avoid transmission problems.

Nissan Sentra

Generally, Nissan cars are dependable, but when it came to the Nissan Sentra there are a few model years affected. 2012, 2013, and 2015 have been found to have transmission problems around 77,000-123,000 miles. However, common alternatives for this car would be the 2011-2015 Honda Civic, 2011-2015 Toyota Corolla, and 2013-2015 Mazda3.

Ford Focus

Fors cars are also known to be dependable and work for 100,000’s miles. The Ford Focus from 2012-2017 has been found with transmission issues starting between 31,000-60,000 miles. Rather than choose this car, you can look to the 2013-2015 Mazda3 or the 2012-2015 Honda Civic.

Kia Forte

If you are looking for a somewhat newer car, do not go for the Kia Forte from 2019. This car is known for having issues anywhere from only 12,000-23,000 miles! Good alternatives if you like the Kia Forte would be 2017, 2018, and 2020 Toyota Corolla, as well as 2017, 2018, and 2019 Kia Soul.

Average Cost of Transmission Repairs

Transmission repair cost

Nissan Sentra

When having a transmission repaired in a Nissan, you should expect that both the transmission fluid will be replaced, and any debris will be removed. How much does it cost to replace transmission for a Nissan will average between $1,800 and $3,400.

Ford Focus

When it comes to replacing a transmission in a Ford Focus, a full transmission replacement will cost around $3,500-5,000. This is a lot more than that of a Nissan Sentra and may not even grant repairing the transmission, but buying an entirely new car.

Kia Forte

Along the same lines as the Nissan Sentra, a Kia Forte will set you back around $1,800 and $3,400. Despite this, how much to replace transmission and purchase a use transmission is anywhere between $800 to $1,500.

Fixing Your Transmission, is it Possible?

When repairing a transmission, you are only replacing the parts in order to guarantee that your transmission is in working order. This might mean only fixing one part, and neglecting the rest of the transmission until that falls apart as well. Although this can be done without having to rebuild the entire transmission, it is usually only done because it is less than a rebuild or a replacement. In some cases, it is not possible to repair your transmission because there might be too much damage done to it.

Rebuilding a Transmission

You may be wondering, is rebuilding a transmission worth it? Is it worth getting a new transmission? How much does it cost to rebuild a transmission?

Transmission rebuilds are when you take apart the entire equipment and put it back together with new parts. All parts that are worn out or damaged will be replaced, and then the transmission will be reassembled and replaced in your car. This is a custom process that is necessary for each individual car.

Replacing a Transmission

Transmission replacement cost entails replacing the entire piece of equipment. It is often referred to as having your transmission “re-manufactured”. This is different from a transmission solenoid replacement cost though. This is because there are often not brand new transmissions available on the market. How much does a new transmission cost? Well, most likely you will be purchasing a refurbished transmission (also known as used). This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you need to ensure that it is inspected properly, and may benefit you because a new transmission cost is very high.

When you replace your transmission, all of the parts of your transmission are replaced instead of worn-out parts. It is usually only done in cases where the transmission is beyond help. This process should always be done in a controlled setting because it will be updated to the pre-built factory settings. It is known to be extremely expensive.

Factors That Affect Transmission Fix Cost

 

Transmission repairs and replacements are extremely expensive. It is probably the most expensive part of having a car. If your transmission needs to be rebuilt or replaced then the parts alone will be even more than the labor needed to fix it. There are a few reasons why it might be more expensive to fix your transmission.

Amount of Damage

Depending on which parts of your transmission are damaged, and to what extent they are damaged, will be the main factor in your repair costs. Newer cars will cost a lot less than that of an older car that has been used a lot. For example, a transmission fluid change cost is a low cost, while transmission flush cost, transmission rebuild cost, or a transmission replacement cost is a lot more.

Manual vs. Automatic

Most often a manual transmission will cost less to repair than automatic transmissions, but this also goes along with other factors.

Make and Model

The make and model of your vehicle can hugely change the cost of a transmission repair. Domestic cars such as Ford will usually cost less than that of higher-end or imported cars such as a Volkswagen, Audi, BMW or Mercedes.

Older or Rare Cars

Rare cars overall cost more to maintain, but older cars do as well. This is usually because the parts are harder to find which is the same situation with rare cars as well.

Repair Shop

Where you live will affect how much you end up paying for the repair. Locations that have an overall higher cost of living, will always see higher transmission repair cost. The same can be said when it comes to different shops. Each shop will have a different rate based on the experts they hire.

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