With proper maintenance and timely repairs, you can make your car last up to 200,000 miles and save at least $30,000 in the process. The transmission system is one of the most vital components of a car and is essential in making it run. Ignoring a faulty transmission or improperly fixing these faults can literally ground your car and leave you stranded at the most inconvenient time or location. While many car owners can handle small maintenance tasks like oil changes or installing a new car battery, any matter involving your car's transmission should always be left to a professional transmission technician and rebuilder. Transmission repair jobs are complex jobs that require the right tools, proper training, precision, and expertise to carry out, all of which are things that the average do-it-yourself car owner or mechanic does not possess.
Utilizing the services of a good transmission repair service near you spares you the stress of worrying about your car grounding you in the middle of nowhere or having to tackle the complexity of transmission repairs by yourself. Hiring a professional transmission technician and rebuilder also ensures that any warranties on your car are protected as well as providing you with a new warranty on the repairs that are done. However, not every transmission technician and rebuilder that claims to be a professional actually is. To help you differentiate between the professional and unprofessional transmission technicians and rebuilders near you, you should ask the following questions:
Are You Licensed, Registered, or Certified?
Before hiring a transmission technician and rebuilder, one of the first things that you should always look out for is proof of certification. This usually indicates that the technician has taken and passed certain tests to prove competence in several types of auto repair services including transmission repair, rebuilding, and maintenance. While the ASE certification issued by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence is the most commonly known certification in the automotive industry, other organizations like the Automatic Transmission Builders Rebuilders Association also offer relevant certification programs to transmission technicians and rebuilders.
Always request proof of certification from any transmission technician and rebuilder that you intend to hire and authenticate it with the organization that issued this certificate. In addition to certification, it is also a good idea to find out if the technician belongs to a trade association or organization. Although this is not a compulsory requirement, transmission technicians and rebuilders that belong to these associations or organizations are typically required to abide by a strict code of ethics and standards. This provides a level of accountability and also goes a long way in assuring you of the technician's professionalism and work ethic.
Note that some states and local governments may have location-dependent licensing, registration, or certification requirements for individuals and facilities that provide auto repair services within their jurisdictions. For example, the State of Michigan requires all mechanics to obtain state-issued certification before offering their services to members of the public. Similarly, the states of California, Florida, and New York require auto repair shops and technicians to undergo either licensing or registration before operating. As such, it is advisable to contact your state's consumer protection agency to find out whether there are any specific licensing, registration, or certification requirements that transmission technicians and rebuilders near you have to meet.
How Much Does Transmission Repair Cost?
Transmission repair costs can range from a few hundred dollars for minor repairs and services like fluid changes and shift solenoid replacements to thousands of dollars for a transmission rebuild or total replacement. The amount of money that you will pay for transmission repair depends on several factors, which include:
- The make of your car
- The age of your car
- The extent of the damage to your transmission
- The type of transmission system that your car utilizes
- Your location
- The transmission technician and builder that you hire
Listed below are cost estimates for some common transmission repair services:
- Fluid change - $80 - $250
- Fluid leak repair - $100 - $200
- Front seal replacement - $400 - $900
- Manual transmission clutch replacement - $800 - $1,500
- Reverse gear repair - $300 - $1,000
- Shift solenoid replacement - $150 - $400
- Transmission linkage repair - $150 - $300
- Transmission mount replacement - $100 - $500
- Transmission rebuild - $2,500 - $5,000
- Transmission replacement - $3,500 - $8,000
- Valve body replacement - $300 - $800
Transmission repair services are typically expensive, and the best way to avoid these costs is through regular maintenance like flushing and changing your transmission fluid. However, when you have to carry out any repairs, you can save a few dollars on costs by buying the parts that have to be replaced yourself and only paying the transmission technician and rebuilder to install these parts. You can also ask your technician for separate quotes that show you:
- The cost of rebuilding your existing transmission
- The cost of installing a third-party rebuild
- The cost of replacing your transmission with a good one that you obtain by yourself from a nearby store or junkyard
- The cost of installing a brand new transmission
Compare these quotes and go with the one that is best suited to your budget.
What Are Common Transmission Repair Expenses?
Transmission repair expenses are usually limited to the cost of obtaining any parts required for the job and labor cost of the transmission technician and rebuilder that carries out these repairs. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to request a detailed quote for the repair job that includes both the cost of materials and the cost of labor. This is because some transmission technicians and rebuilders do not factor labor costs into their overall price when preparing an initial quote, and asking for a detailed quote spares you the hassle of arguing over costs at the end of the day.
Note that after fixing your transmission, you will typically be required to carry out maintenance actions like changing your transmission fluid regularly to ensure that it works smoothly. Transmission fluid flushing and changing cost an average of $80 - $250, and it is recommended that you do this every 30,000 50,000 miles.
Who Will Do the Work?
Transmission repair is complex hands-on work and so it is always a good idea to know the technicians and rebuilders that will actually be involved in the job. Make sure that any technician and rebuilder that will be responsible for fixing your car's transmission has been certified by a reputable trade association and is also licensed and registered per the stipulations of your state of residence. If you drop your car off at a repair shop that has several transmission technicians and rebuilders, then you should make sure that the one assigned to your car meets all these requirements.
Note that certification is not a guarantee of a technician's competence. Nevertheless, it indicates that the technician or rebuilder has a certain level of expertise and professionalism. Also, in situations where an auto repair shop claims to be certified, this does not necessarily mean that every technician employed by the repair shop has also been certified. However, some trade associations require that a minimum number of employees in an auto repair shop must be certified before these shops can display certain certification logos. For example, if an auto repair shop displays an ASE Blue Seal of Excellence logo, then it means that at least 75% of all employees in the shop have been ASE certified. Therefore, it is important to always verify the certification status of any transmission technician and rebuilder that works on your car, even if the auto repair shop itself is certified
What Qualifications Should a Transmission Technician and Rebuilder Have?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over 620,000 technicians and mechanics are currently employed by the automotive servicing industry. These technicians and mechanics, which also include transmission technicians and rebuilders, are typically required to have a high school certificate or its educational equivalent and also complete relevant programs and courses provided by post-secondary education institutions. Some employers may also offer additional on-the-job training opportunities to transmission technicians and rebuilders. Finally, many professional transmission technicians and rebuilders belong to and also obtain certifications from trade associations and organizations like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association.
Will You Provide References?
Before you hire a transmission technician and rebuilder or drop your car off at any auto repair shop, you need to make sure that this individual or facility is trustworthy. One way to do this is by getting referrals from people that have dealt with these technicians or shops before. You can also get referrals on good transmission repair services near you via web pages provided by trade associations like the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association, National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, and the Automotive Service Association.
When you get referrals on transmission technicians and rebuilders or repair shops near you, you should also ask them to provide you details of no less than three past clients that can vouch for them. Be wary of any transmission technician and rebuilder or auto repair shop that cannot provide you with this information and eliminate them from your list of potential hires. Contact these references and get direct reviews on the quality of service that they received from the individual or facility that handled their transmission repair. You can also get indirect reviews on transmission technicians and rebuilders or the auto repair shops near you via Better Business Bureau and other third-party review websites that allow consumers to post their opinions and details on businesses that they have had interactions with.
Finally, you can also do more due diligence by contacting your state's consumer protection agency or Attorney General's Office to find out whether any complaints of misconduct have been filed against the transmission technician and rebuilder or auto repair shop near you that you wish to hire.
Quick Facts about Transmission Technicians and Rebuilders
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Expert Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Transmission Repair Services
Some common signs that there is a problem with your car's transmission system are:
- Your transmission goes into neutral while you are driving
- You have difficulty shifting gears
- You hear strange humming, grinding, or clunking noises, especially when you are shifting gears or when your car is in neutral
- Your transmission feels like it's slipping between gears when you are driving
- Your transmission fluid is leaking
- You notice a burning smell coming from your car
- Your car does not respond when you try to change gears
- You notice a delay when you shift gears
- Your RPMs are higher than they should be whenever you shift gears
- Your check engine light comes on and you have already experienced any of the aforementioned problems
If you notice any of these problems, then you should visit a transmission technician and rebuilder near you as soon as possible.
The answer to this question usually depends on your budget and the extent of damage to your transmission system. While the complete replacement of a faulty transmission is usually your best option, you may decide to repair and replace just the parts required to get your transmission system working again. However, in many cases, these repairs are not able to solve the underlying issue with your transmission system and can only act as a brief respite until the problem returns. You may also decide to do a rebuild, which involves taking apart your entire transmission, inspecting it for damages, repairing or replacing any faulty parts, and then rebuilding and reinstalling it. Note that in situations where the damage to your transmission is too much, you will have to replace this transmission.
As a general rule of thumb, if the cost of a repair is more than that of a rebuild, then you should rebuild your transmission. Likewise, if it costs more to either repair or rebuild your transmission than to completely replace it, then you should go with a transmission replacement. Nevertheless, regardless of whatever choice you make, you should always hire a certified transmission technician and rebuilder to do this job.
Transmission repairs are complex and very labor-intensive jobs that require a specialized skill set to properly execute. Likewise, the costs of transmission parts, whether new or used, can run into thousands of dollars. All of these are factors that contribute to the cost of carrying out these types of auto repairs. Transmission systems are made up of several important individual components, and technicians and rebuilders have to painstakingly dismantle, clean, and inspect each of these components for wear and damage during each repair. Any damaged parts are then repaired, replaced, or upgraded, and rigorously tested to ensure that they function properly. After this, the transmission system is then reassembled and installed back into the car, which is then tested once again to ensure that there are no more problems. As such, when the amount of work that goes into fixing these systems as well as the importance of your car's transmission system are taken into consideration, these expenses become worth every dollar.
How often you should change your transmission fluid depends on the make and model of your car. Generally, it is recommended that you replace your transmission fluid every 30,000 50,000 miles, and some cars can even go up to 100,000 miles without requiring a fluid change. However, you should always follow the recommendations of your vehicle's manufacturer to get an accurate mileage for when you should do a fluid change. This information is usually covered in your vehicle's owner's manual.
You can check your transmission fluid and forestall potential damage to your car's transmission system by taking the following steps:
- Turn your car on to warm up its engine
- Locate your car's transmission fluid dipstick. You can use your vehicle's owner's manual to help you with this
- Take out the dipstick and place some of the fluid on your finger
- Move this fluid around between your thumb and forefinger and check to see if it is clear with a pinkish hue. If the fluid looks dirty or gives off a burnt smell, then you should take your car to a transmission repair service near you for a fluid change
- Wipe off the fluid dipstick with a rag and place it back
- Pull it out again and check the fluid levels on it. If it is below the full marking, then add more transmission fluid with a funnel until it gets to that marking. Be careful not to add too much fluid
There are generally two main types of transmission fluid, which are automatic transmission fluid and manual transmission fluid. Automatic transmission fluid is used for cars that have automatic transmission systems as well as some newer model manual transmission cars, while manual transmission fluid is mostly used in older model manual transmission cars. In addition to this, there are also synthetic and specialty transmission fluids that are mostly used for vehicles with specialized transmission systems like cars with dual clutch and continuously variable transmission (CVT) systems.
A transmission flush is a process that involves completely removing all the old fluid in your transmission system, and it is usually done to get rid of any debris, gunk, or grime that may be caught in it. However, a transmission flush may not always be your best option, especially if you have an older model car, as it can lead to getting some debris stuck in the transmission's shift solenoids. Because of this, many transmission repair services recommend fluid changes instead. It is always a good idea to refer to the recommendations of both your car's manufacturer and your transmission technician and rebuilder when carrying out any transmission repairs.
If you notice puddles of reddish liquid around the front or middle of your vehicle whenever you leave it parked, then it is very likely that your transmission fluid is leaking. Similarly, if you notice any changes in the sound of your transmission when you shift gears or if your gears are no longer shifting properly, then it is likely that you are running low on transmission fluid due to leakage. You can check your transmission fluid level to confirm this. It is also advisable to visit a transmission repair service near you as soon as you notice any signs of transmission fluid leakage.