How to Know if a Transmission Rebuild or Replacement Is Best

Most of us have our hearts in our mouths when we take the car to the service station for a malfunction. It’s partly because we love our car too much, and partly because we dread what the diagnosis is going to mean in terms of costs. If it is a suspected transmission malfunction, the dread could easily multiply several fold because transmission solutions could easily mean a few thousands less in your bank. Conversely, your best chance is a simple fix without actually dismantling the intricate parts of the transmission system. Basically, it boils down to the extent of damage that the transmission has suffered, which parts are beyond redemption and need to be replaced, or whether it’s the worst case scenario and you need to rebuild or replace the system as a whole with a remanufactured unit. A certified transmission professional can advise you on the best solution possible based on several pointers.

Weigh the costs

The cost factor is the most important criterion while deciding between a replacement and a repair of any automotive component. In the case of transmission errors, this is an even bigger factor because a transmission solution is not necessarily a thousand-dollar question. In fact, there are ways to repair a transmission problem with minimum labor and hardware inputs. Apart from superfluous problems like a leak or inadequate transmission fluid, a quick-fix repair will suffice if the damage is to a valve here or a gasket there. Even if the damage is more extensive, it is still possible to replace those specific components without investing in a rebuild. However, if the concerned faulty component of the transmission system necessitates removal of the entire transmission apparatus, you might have to just grit your teeth and go for a transmission rebuild.

Look at the big picture

However, cost is not everything. After all, a transmission repair fixes only a part or parts of the transmission system, while the other worn and “untreated” components continue to be in use and inevitably become weaker and more fragile in the long run. After your car clocks a few hundred more miles, one of those worn out parts might give up and, what’s worse, it could damage the parts that you replaced earlier. Thus, a transmission repair could have a cascading cost effect in the long run, and you could end up paying more for recurrent repairs than for a one-time transmission rebuild.

How many miles to go?

Ultimately, the moot point is the nature of transmission problem and the life of your car. If a repair is enough to keep the car going for the rest of its lifetime, it might be the best solution for you. Conversely, if a repair will only mean bringing it back to the shed for more repairs, later on, a transmission rebuild might be worth the extra investment. Besides, you are likely to get a warranty for a rebuild, while a repair might not have that backing.

Availability and downtime

Your car is something you can’t do without for an extended period. If your transmission professional gives you an option between a transmission repair and a transmission rebuild, you must take into account the downtime for the car. A repair might get the car back on the roads quickly while a rebuild is a much more elaborate process which includes the following operations:

  • An overhaul of the entire system, including complete dismantling and cleaning of all components
  • Replacement of components including clutches, seals, rings, and gaskets
  • Replacement of the torque converter
  • Replacement of electrical parts

This implies an extended period in the service station. If the rebuild is not available, that will only amplify the downtime. If this goes on for an inordinately long period, you might have to consider a quick-fix repair to get the car back in running condition and perhaps even trade it for another car in the market.

In deciding between a transmission repair and a transmission rebuild, it is extremely important to have the right advice from your mechanic. It is best to take that advice and look at your own priorities in terms of costs, downtime, and lifetime of the car before making an informed decision.

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