AAMCO is an American transmission-repair franchise. It was founded in 1957 in Philadelphia. AAMCO now has almost 900 repair shops around the United States and is one of the leading and most reliable transmission service companies. If you need to repair your transmission, AAMCO is a good option. But what if you need a transmission rebuild? How much does an AAMCO transmission rebuild cost?
In this post, we’ll compile the AAMCO transmission rebuild cost from past customers, and everything else you need to know about transmission rebuilds.
How A Transmission Works
We always like to explain how the car component in question works. This will give you context on how and why the component – in this case the transmission – needs repairs or even a rebuild. So, how does a transmission work? Most cars will have either one of two transmissions: automatic or manual.
The automatic transmission works by using a set of gears to transfer power from the engine to the wheels. These gears have different ratios, which dictates the output speed of the drive wheel. Lower gears will spin slower, which provides more torque. While the higher gears will spin faster to provide more speed.
A torque converter sits in-between the engine and transmission and uses pressurized fluid to transfer power to the gears. The torque converter will engage the transmission when the driver demands it, which will rotate the transmission’s planetary gear set. This is of course an oversimplification and the system is quite complex. To better understand it, we recommend watching this video:
A manual transmission works similarly, by using a set of gears to control the output speed to the drive wheels. But rather than a torque converter, it uses a clutch plate to engage and disengage the transmission. The video below explains how it works and why transmission is necessary for cars:
Other Types Of Transmissions
There are a few more types of transmissions you should know. There’s the CVT or Continuously Variable Transmission which uses two pulleys and a steel belt running between them. The CVT adjusts the diameter of the pulleys to vary its “gear” ratios, giving the car different output speeds. This type of transmission is quite common in Honda and Nissan cars.
The next type of transmission is an automated manual, where it works as the manual transmission but the clutch is operated automatically by the car’s computer. This gives the car better performance since power loss is kept to a minimum. But it can be quite slow to respond, especially in stop-start driving conditions.
A variation of the automated manual is the dual-clutch transmission, you will often find this in Volkswagen, Audi, and often high-performance cars. It works the same way as the automated manual, but there are two different clutches in the transmission. One for the odd gears, and one for the even gears. This helps the transmission to shift gears faster when driving, allowing for a smooth ride. The faster gear change also benefits performance cars greatly.
Why Do I Need A Transmission Rebuild?
Like most other car parts, the transmission will wear out over time. The gears experience a lot of friction, and they can wear out. If you have an automatic, the solenoids (which controls gear changes) can also wear out over time, preventing the car from changing gears. Additionally, the transmission has gaskets that can crack and won’t seal properly anymore.
If enough parts are damaged, you can’t just replace individual parts anymore and you will need a full rebuild. The transmission in a well-maintained car can last as long as 200,000 miles. However, some parts may need replacing earlier such as the gaskets, which can wear out as quickly as 100,000 miles.
Neglecting regular maintenance can shorten the transmission’s lifespan. For example, the transmission fluid needs to be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles depending on the car’s make and model. Old transmission fluid won’t lubricate the transmission properly and can cause more friction and heat which will damage the transmission.
Other things like refilling the transmission with too much fluid can also shorten its lifespan. This is because too much fluid will force the transmission to work harder, causing them to wear out quicker. And sometimes, some cars just have a badly-designed transmission which means they break much earlier than expected and you will need to rebuild it. The Nissan Rogue, for example, is notorious for unreliable transmissions.
What A Transmission Rebuild Entails
A transmission rebuild is exactly what it sounds like: rebuilding an entire transmission unit so it works like new. The process involves disassembling the entire transmission unit in your car. From there, your mechanic will check for worn-out and damaged parts inside the transmission. For example, a cracked flexplate (or flywheel if you have a manual transmission) is one of the common reasons for a transmission rebuild.
Afterward, your mechanic will replace all the necessary parts with new ones. Then they will clean up other internal and external components of the transmission before reassembling it. Finally, they will reinstall the transmission and refill the fluid. Afterward, they’ll take a test drive and do a final check before finally handing the car back to you.
AAMCO Transmission Rebuild Cost
The cost will ultimately depend on the severity of the damage and your car’s make and model. If your car is common and transmission parts are widely available, it’s definitely going to be cheaper than rarer and more exotic cars. But here are some costs that past AAMCO customers have had to pay for their transmission rebuild:
- A customer in Atlanta, GA paid $3,100 for a transmission rebuild in a GMC Acadia.
- One customer in Golden, C paid $2,400 for an unknown Jeep vehicle.
- One customer in Minneapolis paid a total of $4,000 for a transmission rebuild and other miscellaneous repairs. The type of vehicle is undisclosed.
- A customer in Newark, NJ paid $3,200 for a transmission rebuild in their Ford Expedition.
- Another customer in Seattle paid $3,000 in transmission rebuild for an unknown Acura vehicle.
- A customer in Wilmington, NC paid $3,600 for transmission rebuild in an undisclosed Toyota vehicle.
As you can see, a transmission rebuild at AAMCO will cost anywhere between $2,000 – $4,000 depending on the vehicle’s make and model and your geographical location.
This usually doesn’t include an inspection cost, which can be anywhere between $400 – $800. Before doing any repairs, AAMCO will often request to do an inspection first. From there, they can determine the extent of the damage and give you an estimate on how much the rebuild will cost.
AAMCO Transmission Rebuild Cost: Extra Costs
On top of the rebuild cost, there may be other extra costs you will need to pay for. The first one is of course the initial diagnosis that we’ve mentioned. Another cost you will need to be wary of is the towing which may be necessary to get your car to an AAMCO shop. A damaged transmission may prevent you from driving the car, so towing will be necessary. The national average for towing cost is around $95.
When your transmission is being rebuilt, your car may be out of service for a few days. Again, this depends on the complexity of your car’s transmission, the extent of the damage, and parts availability. If your car needs to be in the shop for several days, you will need to make arrangements for your daily transportation. If you need to rent a car, this will cost you about $109 on average. AAMCO will often suggest a few places if you need one.
And finally, if for whatever reason you can’t pick up the car immediately from AAMCO, they will charge you $45 per day for vehicle storage.
AAMCO Transmission Rebuild Cost: Why Is It So Expensive?
Transmission rebuilds will cost you at least $1,500 no matter where you go. Whether it’s at AAMCO, a different transmission repair chain, or your local dealer, it’s going to cost you thousands of dollars. The first reason is obviously the parts. The transmission is essential for your car’s operation. As such, the replacement parts are not going to be cheap.
For example, the clutch plate is one of the most expensive parts to replace at around $600. The second reason why it’s so expensive is the extensive labor that goes into rebuilding a transmission. As mentioned, the process involves removing and disassembling the transmission. And then the mechanic will have to clean the transmission and replace all worn-out parts, before finally assembling it and installing it back in the car.
This process can take as little as a day if the transmission isn’t too complicated and AAMCO has all the necessary replacement parts available. However, it’s not uncommon for the process to take up to three to four days. If a replacement part isn’t available, then you’ll have to wait several days for the part to be delivered. Possibly even a couple of weeks if the part has to come from abroad.
Transmission Rebuild Process At AAMCO
AAMCO will always want to perform an extensive multi-point inspection before starting a transmission rebuild. According to past customers, AAMCO charges around $400 – $800 for this process. This process is quite expensive as they need to take apart the transmission to diagnose the problem. But don’t worry, this includes putting the transmission back together after the diagnosis should you wish not to proceed with the rebuild with AAMCO.
This inspection helps them diagnose the exact problem with your transmission, and decide whether a rebuild is necessary or not. If a rebuild is necessary, then they will take your transmission unit and replace all the necessary parts with new ones should you agree.
And finally, they will give you a free courtesy check with every service or repair job. AAMCO will check various components in your car, informing you if any other components need repairs before you drive off.
AAMCO Transmission Rebuild Cost: Tips
The transmission rebuild cost is very expensive. So before you proceed, here are some tips that may help you save money and get the best possible rebuild job:
- Always check the reviews for your local AAMCO outlet. AAMCO is proud of their work and quality, but what they don’t mention is that they’re a franchise. This means the quality of the job and customer service may differ from one outlet to another since there are different owners. Check the reviews, and see if previous customers are happy.
- Shop around. There are alternatives to AAMCO and they’re likely to cost less, and possibly do a better job. Ask for estimates from other transmission repair shops. And of course, check the customer reviews as well.
- Check AAMCO’s website or the website of the repair shop you’re going to and see if they have any promotions or coupons available. They will often list them on their website and will help you save money. There are also reward programs where you can earn discounts on future services from AAMCO.
- AAMCO offers its own credit card. This can get you special discounts when you use it at an AAMCO center, and you can split up your payments with a low interest rate. Keep in mind you can only use this at participating AAMCO locations.
- Inquire if they have a mechanic with a certification from the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association (ATRA). This certification isn’t easy to obtain, and only the most skilled and knowledgeable mechanics can earn them.
- If your car is relatively new, check if you still have a transmission warranty from the manufacturer. If you do, you can take it to the dealer instead and repair or rebuild the transmission for little to no money at all.
Questions & Answers
Got anymore questions about transmission repairs? We’ll try to answer as many as possible below:
Can I Drive With A Bad Transmission?
That’s a straightforward no from us. A car with bad transmission will often refuse to drive away, or they may engage limp mode to prevent any further damage, making the car pretty much undrivable. Even if the car can still drive, there will be erratic behavior from the transmission which can endanger you, your passengers, and other drivers around you.
These erratic behaviors may include the car refusing to engage certain gears, limiting your driving speed. And sometimes it may suddenly engage other gears on its own, which can be very dangerous.
How About CVT Or Dual-Clutch Transmission Rebuild Cost?
Dual-clutch transmissions, such as VW’s DSG system, will cost about the same as conventional manuals and automatics to rebuild. However, a CVT is usually more expensive. Rebuilding a CVT usually starts at around $3,000 and can go as high as $8,000. This is because the parts for CVT transmissions are more expensive.
Should I Rebuild Or Buy Remanufactured Transmission?
If you’re looking for options for a transmission rebuild, you might have heard the term “remanufactured transmission”. A remanufactured transmission is a unit that has been restored to new as close as possible to factory conditions. Simply put, it’s as good as new, or at least, as close to it as possible.
This process involves machining the transmission and replacing all the necessary parts with OEM spare parts. This restores them to their original specifications. As you can imagine, this won’t be cheap either, costing somewhere between $1,500 to $4,000 for most cars. So this isn’t a cheaper option, but simply an alternative to a transmission rebuild. Should you go for it?
Remanufactured transmissions have two advantages: first, they are treated with high-pressure heat and tested on a dynamometer that simulates real-world conditions. This ensures the transmission is clean and will work perfectly. The other advantage is that they often come with a better warranty, sometimes as long as two to three years. Providing you with better peace of mind.
Of course, this is a complex process that no ordinary repair shop can do, so you’ll have to look for companies that specialize in transmission remanufacturing. AAMCO and JASPER Engines & Transmissions are capable of doing this.
How About Buying Used Transmissions?
Another alternative is to buy a used transmission, you can often find them at a scrapyard. Used transmissions are transmissions from a car that has been scrapped for whatever reason, but the transmission is still in working condition and you can install it on your car.
Needless to say, this is a much worse option as you don’t really know the condition of the transmission. All you know is that it’s working and it can fit your car. But of course, this is a much cheaper option, often only around $1,000 – $2,000 including the labor cost to install it.
We don’t really recommend this unless you’re really cash-strapped and still want to keep your current car. But if you want to buy used transmission, try to buy from somewhere that provides a warranty. Obviously, the warranty won’t last very long and won’t cover a lot of things, but it’s still better than no warranty at all. Again, we don’t really recommend this.
Does AAMCO Provide A Warranty?
Yes, they do. Rebuilt transmissions come with a 12-month/12,000-mile limited warranty. AAMCO also offers remanufactured transmissions, and they come with a 36-month/100,000-mile limited warranty. They also offer extended warranties at AAMCO. You should inquire at the nearest AAMCO center to find out more about their warranty programs.
Should I Just Scrap My Car?
A transmission rebuild is very expensive, so scrapping your car instead is a viable option. We would recommend scrapping your car instead if your car’s resale value is not much higher than the rebuild cost. For example, if your car’s value on the secondhand market is around $8,000, and the rebuild will cost you $3,500, you’re better off scrapping your car as the rebuild cost is nearly half of the value of the car.
You can also trade-in or sell your car as-is. But selling your car as-is means you’re essentially selling a broken car, and you’ll have to sell it at a much lower price. This sounds like you’re essentially still paying for the repair yourself, but at least you won’t have to shell out thousands of dollars and instead will put money on your hand.
We wrote a great guide on how to scrap your car the right way, and you can read it here.
I Rebuilt My Transmission, How Do I Maintain It?
Here are some tips from us on how you can maintain your transmission and prolong its life:
- Do not neglect regular maintenance. Change the transmission fluid at the recommended intervals to keep it well-lubricated. Don’t forget to make sure you don’t fill it with too much fluid by checking the transmission fluid dipstick. And of course, use the correct transmission fluid! You can find this information in your owner’s manual.
- If you have an automatic, make sure the car stops completely before changing gear. For example, if you were reversing, make sure to stop the car completely before engaging Drive or Park. Doing so while the car is moving will create unnecessary friction between the gears and damage it in the long run.
- Avoid driving with spare tires for an extended period of time. Spare tires are often much narrower, and this uneven tire width can put additional stress on the transmission. Also, don’t drive on mismatched tires.
- Keep towing to a minimum. Towing heavy loads will also put stress on the transmission, and frequently doing so can wear it out much quicker. Avoid towing when you don’t have to. And if you have to tow, make sure the load isn’t heavier than the manufacturer’s maximum tow rating.
- If your car broke down and you need to tow it, do not let the driven wheels roll on the ground. The driven wheels are the wheels that are driven by the transmission. This can either be the front, rear, or all four wheels if you have an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle. Doing so can damage the transmission. You need to tow your car correctly. Ideally, all four wheels should be up on the tow truck.
AAMCO transmission rebuild cost is somewhere between $2,000 – $4,000 according to previous AAMCO customers. AAMCO also offers remanufactured transmissions, which are likely to cost more but can give you better peace of mind especially with their longer warranty.
No matter where you go, a transmission rebuild will cost thousands of dollars. Before deciding to do your transmission rebuild with AAMCO, it’s best to shop around and ask for estimates. You might get a better quote somewhere else, and possibly even get a better rebuild job.
And finally, remember to check the reviews of your local AAMCO center. AAMCO is a franchise and they can have different qualities and customer service from one shop to another.