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When Your Transmission Fails
Here are Your Options for
Getting Your Vehicle Back
on the Road.

Assuming your vehicle (specifically the transmission) is not under the manufacturer's warranty or covered by an aftermarket warranty and you want to keep the vehicle, you have several options available for getting your vehicle back on the road.

We examine these options below - we'll cover the pros and cons of each and provide an estimated cost range for each.  With this information, you'll be better equipped to deal with the situation and hopefully save some money in the process.

3 OPTIONS are Available for Most Situations

rebuild - remanufactured - used transmissions 

Option 1): Have Your Transmission Rebuilt (Also called Overhaul)

Having your transmission rebuilt involves finding a transmission repair shop, auto dealership or independent transmission technician to do the work.  It is also possible to do some or all the work yourself, but for the  purpose of this article, we will assume you will not be doing the work yourself.

The cost to have your transmission rebuilt can range range anywhere from $1,250 to $3,500 or more, depending on several factors, including the year, make and model of your vehicle, the extent of damage to the transmission, the repair shop or dealership that does the work and where you live. 

Rebuilding an automatic transmission involves removing the transmission from the vehicle and then disassembling the entire unit.  Each part is cleaned and inspected for wear and damage.  In reassembling the transmission, all the worn and damaged parts are replaced along with the parts included in a transmission rebuild kit.  These include friction clutches, steel clutch plates, bands, seals, gaskets and filter.  Technical service bulletins are checked to see if the vehicle manufacturer has put out any modification recommendations or updates for the transmission since the original unit was built.  Any such modifications or updates are also made as part of a standard overhaul.

Once the rebuild is complete and the transmission coolant lines are flushed out to insure no old fluid is introduced back into the newly rebuilt transmission, the rebuilt unit is installed.  Once installed, the transmission is filled with between 9 and 12 quarts of automatic transmission fluid (ATF) before being taken for a test drive.  Lastly, the fluid level is checked again along with a visual check for any leaks.  Once this is done � the job is complete.

Times will vary but a typical transmission repair shop can remove, rebuild and re-install your transmission back in your vehicle in two to three days.  But, to be on the safe side, you should figure your vehicle to be out of commission for up to one week for repair.

Warranty...  expect to be given a warranty of between two and three years, depending on the shop or dealership doing the work.

Sample costs of a transmission rebuild (and remanufactured replacement averages) of the most popular models can be downloaded in this free guide:

Option 2): Purchasing a Remanufactured Transmission

Some people choose to purchase a remanufactured transmission instead of having their unit rebuilt.  Here is how this works: You purchase a remanufactured transmission and the pay a mechanic or repair shop to remove your failed transmission and install the remanufactured unit.  Remanufactured units can be purchased from a number of different suppliers, some in your local area as well as online.  You can find the supplier and purchase the transmission yourself or the transmission repair shop can do this for you.  Depending on the type of vehicle you have, some repair shops may already have a remanufactured unit available for your vehicle.

With respect to cost, more often than not, going the remanufactured route will cost more than having your transmission rebuilt.  The only time this is not true is when the failed transmission has suffered extensive internal damage, which would cause the rebuild price to exceed the cost of a remanufactured unit.  Unfortunately, in many instances, the extent of any internal transmission damage can only be determined once the transmission is disassembled.

Below is a short list of things to consider in deciding whether to have your transmission rebuilt versus purchasing a remanufactured unit.

Time: The typical vehicle down time for a rebuild can range from 3 to 5 days.  The downtime for purchasing a remanufactured transmission and having it installed can be just as quick when a remanufactured unit is readily available.  If a unit needs to be ordered and delivered to the repair shop that is doing the work, the down time can be a week or longer.  Either way, it is important to get a completion date from the repair shop before authorizing the work.

Cost: Purchasing a remanufactured transmission and having it installed is almost always more costly than having your unit rebuilt.  Normally, the only time this is not true is when the failed transmission has extensive internal damage causing the rebuild cost to exceed the cost of a remanufactured unit.

Quality: Remanufactured automatic transmissions are normally built in large modern facilities and under very tight controls.  Thus, quality is quite good and very consistent.  People who purchase remanufactured automatic transmissions are typically very satisfied with their purchase.

Notwithstanding the above, some people prefer to keep their vehicle and all its original parts intact.  For these people, rebuilding the original transmission is a better choice. Use the button below to get an estimate via e-mail for a replacement remanufactured transmission:

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Option 3): Purchase a Used Transmission

Purchasing a used automatic transmission is the least costly option of the three.  As a result, the number of people choosing this option has increased considerably in recent years considering the poor economic conditions.  When money is tight, the demand for good quality used automatic transmissions increases.  The higher demand has pushed prices a little higher than they were prior to the economic downturn.  Nonetheless, some good bargains can still be found.

Used automatic transmissions usually come with a replacement warranty of between 90-days and one-year.  Some used automatic transmission suppliers charge more for units with one-year warranties.  A 10% premium for extended warranty transmissions is typical.  In most instances, if a transmission has a serious internal problem, the symptoms will show up shortly, if not immediately,  after installation.  Thus, a 90-day warranty is normally long enough for a pre-existing problem to surface within the warranty period.

The important things to remember when purchasing a used automatic transmission are: purchase from a reputable supplier, get a copy of the warranty in writing and follow the installation guidelines or else you may void the warranty altogether.

Driving a vehicle with the check engine light illuminated or a blinking transmission gear indicator light can cause additional problems and lead to more expensive repairs.  Therefore, it is advisable to have a check engine light or transmission light such matters checked out at your earliest opportunity in order to avoid further damage and additional costs.

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> How Automatic Transmissions Work
> Types of Automatic Transmissions
> Which transmission do I have?
How long do automatic transmissions last?
> My transmission failed - how much will it cost?
> Automatic Transmission Maintenance
How to check transmission fluid level
> How to check transmission fluid condition
Automatic transmission fluid/filter change
> Automatic transmission fluid flush
> Automatic Transmission Fluids (ATF)
> What can go wrong with my transmission?
> Transmission failed, is my vehicle worth fixing?
> Troubleshoot transmission problems
> Transmission Failure - What are my options?
> Find a reputable transmission shop
> 8 tips for a long lasting transmission
> Automatic Transmission Rebuild Costs
> Remanufactured automatic transmissions
> Transmission terms you should know
> Why should I install a shift kit
> Transmission Parking Pawl
> Keep your transmission cool
Free Vehicle Owners Manuals
> DIY Automatic Transmission Removal (RWD
> DIY Automatic Transmission Install (RWD)
> Solenoids and Sensors
> Aftermarket Warranties
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> DIY input and output speed sensor replacement

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