If reading this most likely you’ve ever been and currently are an automobile owner, then the issue is familiar. The ever-relevant car repair one, the one of how much a transmission costs to buy, repair or replace.
How exactly does such breakage happen, what are the tells for a faulty transmission and how exactly do you go about addressing it? Well in this article we’ll go over each and every section above-mentioned. We will touch on and expand on transmission has broken related topics, from its integral importance to the vehicle, to the why it breaks, how you tell and how much in terms of money it may cost. Enjoy the ride so to speak and fasten the belts tight.
What a transmission is exactly
The funniest thing about its definition has often been pictured in some most popular TV shows about flipping or simply upgrading / repairing cars. Both things of the following 2 terms integral parts can be called and referred to as a transmission.
That would be either the gearbox of the car in question itself or the whole more complex overall combo of a gearbox to shafts (if rear wheel drive) to the drivetrain as a system creating all the torque and speed conversion. As well as control by the way, which funnily is 2 things being separate too. But upon further deeper take the one in a proper definitive way as in a dictionary would be the drivetrain as a whole.
Yet mostly people and car mechanics when you need to repair, buy or replace your transmission and speak of it means just the gearbox overall. Hence as you mention the part name at any given local car repair shop of your choice, the thing is you might indeed need to be even more specific. So this will be an extra useful piece of information to truly have handy in such a situation.
Also given the overall confusion on just what the very part itself is, we’re diving in a tad bit deeper. We’ve decided to go the extra mile so to speak and also explain the overall mechanical intricacy and just what makes the part such an integral part of the overall experience of driving itself.
Also it is indeed worth noting that the vehicles transmission / gearbox can vary, of course, technical details wise dependent on if for automatic and manual. The differences are not major yet the crucial ones are perfectly illustrated by the videos added below.
Long story short, the biggest task the transmission car part serves as a whole is ensuring correct wheel rotation. As such proper gears or a truly correct speed change in a direct correlation with the initiated gear initially. In a quick nutshell, the transmission adapts the output of the internal combustion engine to the drive wheel speed respectively. All because these operate at a pretty high rotational speed, making it inappropriate for starting, stopping, and slower traversing if not adjusted. The transmission does decrease the higher engine speed to the slower wheel speed, leveling up its torque in the process.
A brief overview of an automatic car transmission / gearbox
A brief overview of a manual car transmission / gearbox
Why is transmission so crucial to a car’s longevity/durability?
As we’ve just made sure to mention above the overall importance cannot be overstated as it literally ensures it drives. Or at the very least drives properly as in not damaging the engine or the drivetrain as you’re not reversing as fast as possible.
But one can for example easily say something along the lines of ‘will it matter for those nonexistent manual cars in the US? Well, that simply won’t be the case as the transmission is equally functional for an automatic. This is because it simply auto detects and decides wheel rotation automatically yet just as many same or similar components of it can go awry.
The whole thing is that by not having it work properly you’re not only creating an inconvenience or nuisance for yourself.
It actually can structurally damage other parts and the overall well-being of the car and eventually it’s safety or even driving capacity.
Let’s start with this basic overview of how exactly it works pretty much schematically.
Going In Technical On How Much Is A Transmission
For the sake of comparison let’s dissect the gears of a road bike here. As one shifts between one to the other, the chain is for a split second lifted off, then placed by the movement back into place.
This is pretty much a direct copy of how a manual transmission is. By pressing the clutch in, it disconnects the engine from the vehicle’s transmission, giving you an option to shift into another gear. When you let off the clutch, it re-engages the two.
As for an automatic transmission, it is in an overview an automatic gear shifter that does the job all on its own for you. It uses what’s known as a torque converter so when to switch gears so that when you increase the speed up, it moves to the next gear, and when you slow, it returns to a previous one.
That’s the exact reason if you ever begin experiencing issues with your transmission, then it’s likely time to get it checked out. Simple in function and moving on to the faulty transmission topic it is vital!
So, why a car transmission/gearbox can break/become faulty in the first place?
So now we’re finally onto the ultimate goal of this guide – to guide you through why a transmission can break and how to repair it for how much.
This list below pretty much represents the whole nine yards of range of what can cause a transmission/gearbox to get broken in the first place.
Low on transmission fluid
Leaking transmission fluid
Clogged transmission filter
So as you can clearly see from the overview of the reasons up top, the whole point of it is that the main reasons are all caused by either preventable or fixable issues.
Such as the first one we’re gonna examine right here right now.
Low on transmission fluid
This one can look kind of identical to something just as simple as the car not starting up due to a reason as simple as a tank refill needed. Or perhaps something trickier to spot and lengthier to perform like an engine oil change. Yet just like in the latter example in there and that it means your transmission doesn’t get the sufficient amount of fluid it needs.
So in this particular case all you’ll truly need is essentially a refill.
Leaking transmission fluid
But again relating to the fluid issues, if your transmission is leaking fluid, you can’t simply add more, you need to address the reason why that happens to start with.
Luckily, transmission fluid is colored red, so if you ever spot a puddle of red liquid underneath your car, it’s pretty clear what it’s from. This one is very much trickier as it means the integrity of the drivetrain has been compromised somewhere. Leading to an inspection need to find and subsequently patch up where it was leaking out of exactly.
Clogged transmission filter
Going next grade of difficulty of an issue, in case you didn’t know, your tranny has a filter that screens out harmful debris like dirt, dust, and metallic bits and pieces. The issue comes it was either worn out or used for so long it has all dusted up by now.
And of course there are some smaller issues yet most related to these three.
What are the tell signs or symptoms of a faulty car transmission?
Once again we want to reiterate just how essential for a vehicle to even function as in driving a not broken or faulty transmission/gearbox. This is why as soon as you’re spotting either of the tell signs or symptoms listed below in your own car rushing to check with a pro asap.
This relates to either of the following listed and most commonly found recognizable issues.
Whining or clunky sound
Issues shifting gears
And let’s start off with the first one as a common sign it might be a transmission.
Whining or clunky sound
As soon as there is any type of sound. Doesn’t really matter if it was a very loud or even slightly audible one – the very fact there is an audio indicator like that you gotta act quick.
Earlier, we mentioned how bad it is for a transmission to be lacking the full amount of fluid. One of the explanations for this is that tranny fluids are employed as a lubricant, making a thin layer to separate the metal parts from each other.
If absent in the system the metal bumps into metal and as a summary of why it’s bad such friction collides with the drivetrain.
The whole thing with this one is that it’s if course again not about the mild inconvenience of smelling. The real danger here is that this is a direct sign of the drivetrain overheating.
And also with little fluid left too it tends to be a combo resulting in it burning and giving off that smell.
Issues shifting gears
So this one can pretty much come in the widest variety range from the wrong gear to the slippage. Let’s cover that and everything in between these.
The first one is very simple to spot, and can be described as your transmission switching gears when it shouldn’t. Obviously, this is not ideal for either the safety of driving or the overall car integrity as a whole.
Kind of guaranteeing this is the most annoying of all, if yours is slipping gears, all of that goes out the window. Not only can it get uncomfortable yet the sudden jerky switch during your driving can become a road accident danger indeed.
As an example you might just think this is only a nuisance, if you’re going fast on slippery roads, an issue like this actually cause your car to lose traction.
What happens if you endanger your car by not addressing a faulty vehicle transmission?
As soon as you do realize or find out just how dire the very transmission issue is you also need to fully know the consequences so you deal with it even faster than fast. It can easily include such events in a range of:
Loss of vehicle speed control
How Much Is A Transmission – Costs to Buy, Repair or Replace?
Starting off with the simplest of them all to address – not enough fluid. As you possibly have been seeing here as a trend, if a car’s low on transmission fluid, it will heat up. That’s why it will no longer be able to shift smoothly, and the internals are endangered.
Luckily, those tranny fluids are good to outuse for between 30,000-60,000 miles. So for most people who net these in 2 ½-5 years that’s the fluid refill time. To make matters better the cost of changing it is economical, starting between $80-$250.
Transmission Fluid Flush
This service consists of getting rid of fluid all in all for addressing the burnt smell issue as to stop leftover fluid from burning and it typically nets at around $80-$250. Also by chance, it’s also something you can do at home to twice reduce these.
Transmission Fluid Leak
Transmission leaks usually happen due to a tiny yet crucial worn seal. This part might easily cost as much as $200 to replace. However, if the real reason for the leak begins from the seal upfront than the total payment will most likely increase by a hefty margin.
The good news I guess is that a total majority of transmission fluids are enhanced with seal swell agents
These keep them from getting too dry and from becoming smaller as a result of that. There’s also a huge market variety of some truly special additives meant to maintain transmission seals.
A transmission rebuild or even a next step further – a full-on replacement are sure the heaviest options applying to mostly the fluid lean situation. This is simply because a leak means either structural or functional integrity compromised so requires heavy lifting.
Starting with doing the best with the faulty transmission you have on your hands currently be there the transmission rebuild. It includes replacing any worn/broken parts and salvaging what is there to salvage. The issue is that this takes a lot of time. Because of this, the costs are pretty on par with overall replacing the whole tranny as is.
Available as an option when absolutely nothing can be done otherwise to patch it up, the whole overhaul is meant to be around $4,000-$8,000 on average.
Yet some workarounds on reducing that also do exist if you keep in mind there are aftermarket ones that are still in a mint condition. Thus you can reduce these costs by replacing it with a used or rebuilt transmission, which varies between $2,500-$4,000.
Repairing is a nice option if minimal parts and labor are needed to truly nurse the manual or automatic back to its proper functioning. Repairs are cheaper than transmission replacements and rebuilds. Average transmission repair costs range from $300 to $1,400. For example, if your manual transmission needs a new clutch, you can reasonably expect to pay around $800 to $1,500.
On the other hand, transmission replacement is one of the most expensive repairs you can get. Replacements can vary easily from $1,800 to $3,400. Based on a specific repair shop and technicians there, labor itself can range from $500 to $1,200. Here’s a quick guide of the average transmission cost:
Remanufactured transmission – $1,300 to $3,400
Used/Salvage – $800 to $1,500
Rebuilt – $1,100 to $2,800
How does one prevent the car transmission from breaking or make it last longer properly?
As soon as humanly possible, first thing you’re gonna need to attempt in terms of maintenance is simply ensuring the fluid refill. By only doing that one small thing you will make sure there’s always enough transmission fluid in there. This will mean also doing the refill on and even before that 30-60k miles overview of the standard so to speak. This will help avoid both the burnt smell type of situation as it will never run low and any initial low fluid issues.
Also, take a look at the actual appearance of the fluid. If by any measure it looks a tad cloudy and dark, there’s possibly an issue on your hands as it needs to be transparent and to be replaced if not.
Also do not forget that your car’s cooling system does have a focal role in the health of your engine and transmission, and is typically designed to only prevent the engine from getting too hot.
Info about the specific type of transmission fluid for your vehicle can be found in your owner’s manual. If you have an incompatible kind of fluid, you’ should have the transmission fluid flushed and switch it with the correct suitable one.
A professional transmission flush or fluid exchange also assists to guarantee that no residual fluid remains in the torque converter or in your cooler lines. It’s also a great way to get rid of any gunk and grime that’s trapped in your transmission.
But if you start tearing out of your driveway or a parking lot before your car has had a minute or so to warm up it can put undue stress on your car’s engine and transmission.
However, if you agree to act as the stand-in for a tow truck in extreme weather, your transmission fluid is likely going to run hot and could no longer lubricate as required.