Average Cost of Repairing a Transmission

The average cost of repairing a transmission depends on your location in the United States; the year, make and model of the vehicle; whether the vehicle is an automatic or a standard shift and whether the vehicle has four-wheel drive. Most people have heard nightmare stories of people spending $4,500 to $5,000 or more to replace or repair a transmission. Fortunately, these horror stories aren't the norm.

Low-Cost Repairs
Transmission repairs often begin at $500 and up. If you've got a two-wheel drive vehicle with a standard transmission, a clutch replacement may cost less than $500. If it's a simple problem, such as low transmission fluid, the repair will cost less than $100, and you can do it yourself. Simply leave the car running, check the fluid level with the dipstick near the engine, then add fluid to get to the right level.

Modern automatic transmissions, and some standard models, have computer controls that aid shifting. If a faulty chip is the cause of your trouble, you'll spend at least $200 for a new chip, and some chips can cost more than $500. Installation costs, fortunately, aren't that high.

Repair prices depend on what needs to be repaired. Putting new clutches in costs much less than rebuilding an entire transmission or repairing internal transmission parts, which requires opening the transmission case. It is not common for internal parts, such as planetary gears, to break unless the transmission is used under harsh circumstances, such as racing.

Costlier Repairs
A four-wheel drive vehicle has a transfer case attached to the transmission,. This means more labor costs to remove and replace the transmission. The transfer case is also heavy; in most circumstances, it requires at least two people to remove the assembly from the vehicle.

Some standard transmissions have the slave cylinder inside the transmission. If you have to remove the transmission to replace the slave cylinder, it is always advisable to replace the clutches and the rear main seal on the engine. Most of the labor cost comes from removing the transmission, so parts that are easy to get to once the transmission is removed should be replaced, whether they need to be replaced or not, unless they're brand new.

Replacing the clutches, slave cylinder and the rear main seal saves you money in the long run. If there is a freeze plug in the engine that cannot be accessed unless the transmission is removed, it is also advisable to replace the freeze plug while the transmission is out. 

These repairs can run between $1,500 and $2,500. If the transmission case needs to be opened, to replace gears or other parts, the cost can quickly escalate to $3,500 or more. At that point, you may want to consider whether the car is worth repairing.

Before you commit to transmission repair, visit a few shops to compare prices. Check with your dealership to see if the parts are still under warranty. If they're not, compare the dealer's price with prices from independent shops and chains, such as Mr. Transmission. You may find that you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars by getting second and third opinions on your transmission woes.

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