The Garage Maintenance & Repair

Things To Know When Considering a Transmission Rebuild

Bump and grind are not positive words when it comes to transmissions

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A failing transmission can be a real bummer. And because it’s such a vital part of your vehicle’s regular operation, you can’t ignore the problem. There’s also a great chance that the repairs are going to cost some serious coin.

Even so, you’ll need to face your transmission demons head-on so that you don’t kill another part of your car by driving around with bad gears. In some cases, this means a rebuild which, as the name suggests, is the process of repairing and replacing parts of transmission to make it operate as new again.

Rebuilt transmissions can involve major overhauls, where several parts are replaced or repaired, or they can be a simpler process with just a few replacement parts and a good cleaning. No matter which direction you need to go, it’s important to understand what’s happening and what it will cost. 

So stay with The Drive’s crack editors and let’s dive in and find out.

Your car may kick out a few error codes when the transmission has problems.
Your car may kick out a few error codes when the transmission has problems., Depositphotos

What Causes A Transmission To Need A Rebuild? 

Some parts of your transmission can be repaired without dropping it out of your vehicle, but not all parts are as easily accessible. If a component needs repair that cannot be accessed from the vehicle’s underside, the transmission will need to be removed. 

Some damage goes beyond the repair of a single component, however. Over time, wear and tear can cause damage to the gears and other components that need tight tolerances to function properly. When this happens, a rebuild is needed to replace the parts with new or remanufactured parts.

What Exactly Goes Into Rebuilding A Transmission

Completely rebuilding a transmission involves removing the transmission and completely disassembling it. Each component is inspected for damage or excessive wear. Parts that are in good shape will be cleaned for use in the reassembled transmission, while any parts that need to be replaced will be taken care of at this point. Clutches, seals, gaskets, and any other wear items will be replaced as well.

What’s The Difference Between a Transmission Rebuild and Overhaul?

There’s no difference. The two terms mean the same thing, but people have taken to using them interchangeably over the years. You should still be asking questions to clarify what you’re actually getting with your transmission rebuild or overhaul to make sure that the repair shop understands the services you’re hoping to receive.

Save transmission repairs for the pros.
Save transmission repairs for the pros., Depositphotos

Transmission Terms You Should Know 

Get educated!

Automatic Transmission

Automatic transmissions are multi-gear transmissions that do not require driver input to change gears.

Manual Transmission

Manual transmissions are multi-gear transmissions that require the driver to change gears while operating the vehicle.


Gears are used to slow engine output speed and increase torque. Most modern transmissions use a number of gears that range from five to ten.


The clutch engages or disengages the powertrain from turning the drive shaft. This allows the driver to shift gears before disengaging the clutch to allow forward motion to continue.


Remanufactured parts are used parts that have been completely torn down and rebuilt. Any worn or damaged parts are replaced. This process should allow remanufactured parts to be as reliable as a new one.

  Depositphotos You'll need to drain the transmission fluid before performing repairs.
You’ll need to drain the transmission fluid before performing repairs., Depositphotos

FAQs About Transmission Rebuilds

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!

Q. Is It Better To Buy A Remanufactured Transmission Than Rebuild The Old One?

A. This will depend on a few factors. If the costs of rebuilding a transmission exceed the costs of buying and installing a remanufactured part, that makes the decision a bit easier. But, if there’s ambiguity in what’s actually damaged and in need of repair, it might be best to have the transmission torn down for inspection. That, of course, costs money, but it’s cheaper than buying another gearbox.

Q. Ok, What Is This Actually Going To Cost Me?

A. Again, it depends. Back in 2014, Angie’s List found that the average cost to rebuild a transmission is between $2,800 and $3,800. The site also found that the costs of buying a replacement can cost anywhere between $4,000 to $8,000. Neither is a cheap repair, but it’s easy to see how rebuilding can be the best financial decision.

Q. Can I Save Money While Doing This?

A. The best way to “save money” when rebuilding a transmission is to prevent the need to rebuild in the first place. Regular maintenance and inspections of your transmission and related components will save you big headaches down the road. If you’re thinking about cheaping out on the rebuild itself, think again. You get what you pay for.

Let’s Talk, Comment Below To Talk With The Drive’s Editors! 

We’re here to be expert guides in everything How-To related. Use us, compliment us, yell at us. Comment below and let’s talk! You can also shout at us on Twitter or Instagram, here are our profiles.

Jonathon Klein: Twitter (@jonathon.klein), Instagram (@jonathon_klein)

Tony Markovich: Twitter (@T_Marko), Instagram (@t_marko)

Chris Teague: Twitter (@TeagueDrives), Instagram (@TeagueDrives)


Featured Products 

You’ve got plenty of choices when it comes to products to help you understand your transmission’s condition. Because of that, The Drive doesn’t want to overload you with sales pitches for every product under the sun. We’ve chosen a handful of the products that are affordable, have great reviews, and are useful in caring for and diagnosing transmission issues.

Innova CarScan Pro Code Scanner

Valvoline Full Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid

Pro-Lift Jack Stands

Got a question? Got a pro tip? Send us a note:


Chris Teague


After working in the technology and software industry for several years, Chris Teague began writing as a way to help people outside of that world understand the sometimes very technical work that goes on behind the scenes. With a lifelong love of all things automotive, he turned his attention to writing new vehicle reviews, detailing industry trends, and breaking news. Along the way, he earned an MBA with a focus on data analysis that has helped him gain a strong understanding of why the auto industry’s biggest companies make the decisions they do.