Diagnosing and Rebuilding Your Transmission

You’ve been driving around nonchalantly for years and rarely ever had to visit the service station. So much so that you take your car to be an invincible wonder machine that can get you anywhere. One fine day, something tells you that the car is a wee bit off in terms of performance. The gears don’t engage smoothly, sometimes slip, and refuse to match the engine power with the car’s velocity. You realize that you have a problem that needs to be redressed.

After you “read” the symptoms on the Internet, it dawns on you that your transmission might be giving up. But hold your horses for a moment; there might be hope yet. Maybe there is nothing wrong with the transmission; maybe the engine is playing up and not communicating properly with the transmission system; maybe you simply need to refill the transmission fuel or plug a leak.

But which one is it, and how much is it going to cost you in terms of time and resources?

There is only one way to find out—get it checked by a professional (unless you happen to be a wizard with common transmission ailments) and rebuild the transmission if it comes to that.

Locate the root cause

The diagnostic expert will first ascertain that the problem is localized to the transmission and not to any other segment. This can be done by checking that the engine is well-tuned and not lagging in its communications with the transmission system. The diagnosis is made easier by the presence of any of the following visual or sensory evidence:

  • A burnt odor emanating from the transmission fluid
  • Metallic deposit in the oil pan
  • A lag while moving from park to drive or to reverse
  • Problem in shifting to higher gears
  • Shakes and jerks while moving between gears

Is a transmission rebuild inevitable for your car?

The presence of these signs shows that you transmission is tiring and needs a fresh lease of life. Depending on the extent of damage to the transmission—and that will only show up after a thorough investigation of all individual components by your transmission expert—you might have to take the plunge and go for a transmission rebuild. Before you do that, however, ensure that you exhaust all other possibilities like a clogged filter or a one-dimensional repair job.

A comforting thought in opting for a transmission rebuild is the assurance that you are paying to address the whole problem, and not a part of it, which will ensure that once rebuilt, your transmission will give you thousands of assured miles.

The transmission rebuilding process

The actual process of rebuilding your transmission is quite intimidating for the uninitiated. However, for the mechanic, it is a complex job that needs to be done through several well-laid out stages.

Dismantling. Each part of the transmission is carefully separated and arranged in carts.

Cleaning. Each component is cleaned with a special solution, dried, and then prepared for the rebuilding process.

Scrutinizing the parts. Experts inspect all units and identify those that can be reused in the rebuild and those that need to be replaced.

Replacing worn-out parts. Replacements are obtained for those parts that are beyond redemption, ensuring that the new parts match the specifications required.

Assembling. The transmission parts are assembled into one unit after a crosscheck.

Testing and installing. The unit is tested with computerized tools and then brought onsite for installation.

The process could take several days to complete, and at the end of it, you’ll have to part with anything between $1000 and $3000, or even more. Nonetheless, you’ll have the consolation of having a transmission that is not likely to give up on you for a few years down the line. Isn’t that worth the price tag for a transmission rebuild?

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