The transmission system is possibly your car’s most important component. Without it, your car can’t move power from the engine to the wheels and will go nowhere. That’s why you can’t delay getting your transmission repaired when something goes wrong. But how much is a transmission repair service?
Many drivers dread the cost of transmission service. Granted, it is one of the most expensive maintenance procedures for your car — but there are reasons for the price tag. Read on to learn how much transmission repair service costs and what makes up the price.
How Much is a Transmission Repair?
Estimating averages for the price of transmission repair is very difficult. Transmission systems are incredibly complex and can fail in vastly different ways. The final cost depends entirely on the root cause of your transmission issues.
The price can range from being reasonably inexpensive to costing thousands of dollars. Here are rough price averages for different services a technician might carry out on your vehicle.
Transmission Fluid Flush
During a transmission fluid flush, technicians empty your transmission of the old fluid and top it up with fresh stuff. If you’re a seasoned DIY mechanic, you may be able to carry out this procedure at home. But be careful — without proper lubrication, your transmission will break very quickly.
To be on the safe side, it’s best to get a professional transmission technician to replace the fluid. This service costs on average $80-$250.
Transmission Fluid Leak Repair
Your transmission could spring a leak for many reasons. Fluid lines can crack during cold northern Virginia winters, road debris could damage plugs or seals, or you could get a hole in the transmission pan.
Because transmission fluid is vitally important to your car, you must get any leaks plugged as soon as possible. Transmission fluid leak fixes cost around $200, but the price often varies based on what caused the leak.
Shift Solenoid Replacement
The shift solenoid is responsible for the crucial task of controlling the flow rate of transmission fluid in your vehicle. If it fails, you could start experiencing gear slips, which can prevent you from changing gears altogether. Needless to say, this is a serious safety risk.
Replacing one solenoid costs $150-$500 on average. However, most cars have two shift solenoids, so you may have to double the price. Additionally, replacing the solenoids is often more expensive on imported vehicles, like Volkswagens, BMWs, or Volvos.
When a technician rebuilds your transmission system, they pull it out of the car and replace any damaged parts. They will aim to retain as much of the original system as possible to keep the price low.
But a transmission rebuild service takes a long time, which can increase the cost. In general, a transmission rebuild will set you back $2,000-$4,500.
If your car’s transmission is completely busted, there is no salvaging it. In this case, the only option is to get a new transmission. The thought of total transmission replacement will have many drivers break into a cold sweat.
Transmission replacement is expensive, and a new system can cost anything upward of $5,000. You may be able to cut the cost by getting a used transmission, but that may cause reliability issues.
Why is Transmission Repair So Expensive?
There’s no sugarcoating it — transmission repair can cost a lot of money. But why is this particular service so expensive?
Many factors affect transmission repair costs, and not all of them are something you or your technician can control. Some of the most significant elements that make up transmission service costs include:
One of the most significant price factors with transmissions is their sheer complexity. This can make diagnosing the underlying cause of any fault or problem in the system very difficult. To give an extremely simplified explanation, your transmission consists of three systems working in unison — mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic.
Almost any transmission issue could stem from a fault in any of these three systems. To accurately diagnose the issue, a reliable technician will run multiple tests and use a great number of tools. It can take hours for even the most experienced mechanic to identify the root cause.
Once the technician knows what’s wrong with your vehicle, they may have to get spare parts to fix it. The spares may be hard to find if you drive an older car.
The original manufacturer could have stopped producing spare parts for your car. Third parties could still make them, but the technician has to figure out where they can purchase the parts. The rarer the spares, the more they will likely cost.
Spare part availability is also a major factor in how long transmission repair takes. If the parts have a two-week delivery time, there’s simply nothing you or the technician can do but wait.
Vehicle make also has a large impact on spare part availability. In general, spare parts for domestic cars — like Ford or GM brands — are cheaper and more readily available. For foreign cars, like BMW or Volkswagen, the spare parts cost more because of import expenses.
This situation is the same for foreign cars that are built in the U.S., like Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. The cars are assembled in America, but all of the parts are actually manufactured in various locations in Asia.
This isn’t a hard rule and your technician may be able to surprise you with cheap spares. But in general, be prepared to pay more for transmission repair if you drive an imported car.
Type of Transmission
Finally, whether your car has a manual or automatic transmission can affect repair costs. If you drive manual, good news — manual transmissions are, on average, cheaper to repair than automatic ones.
Automatic transmissions are more complex and have more parts that can fail. The final price will depend on the type of transmission and vehicle, though. Repairing the high-end transmission system of a luxury or sports vehicle will likely cost more than a generic automatic transmission repair.
Rebuild vs. Replace — Which Is Better?
In the unfortunate situation that your transmission system is completely broken, you may hear your technician speak about rebuilding or replacing the transmission. If you don’t know what these procedures are, it can be difficult for you to choose the right service for you. Let’s take a look at the difference between transmission rebuild and replacement.
Rebuilding a transmission means the technician will remove the system from your car and completely take it apart. They will replace any damaged or worn components while salvaging as much of the original construction as possible. Finally, they’ll put the system back together and reinstall it into your vehicle.
Rebuilding generally costs less than replacement, and it gives you a chance to get updated and better-performing parts, even for an old transmission system. But the task is challenging and not every auto repair shop is up to it.
Transmission replacement is a bit of a misleading term. It’s exceedingly rare for you to get an actual brand-new transmission. It’s more likely that your transmission will be shipped to the car manufacturer or a certified workshop for rebuilding with new parts.
This procedure will cost you more than a rebuild at your go-to car repair shop. You also have no say in what parts the manufacturer will use. But it can be faster than getting the job done locally. For extremely damaged systems, it may be the only option — apart from buying a new vehicle.
How to Avoid Transmission Repairs
One of the best ways to avoid a sky-high transmission repair bill is to take good care of your car. You should get your transmission system inspected by professional technicians every 30,000 miles or two years. This way, you can catch and repair minor faults before they spiral out of control into expensive, system-wide issues.
You can also help keep your transmission in good shape with simple home checks and good driving habits. Things that can extend your transmission’s lifespan include:
- Checking transmission fluid levels regularly with a dipstick
- Swapping to synthetic transmission fluids
- Shifting gears appropriately (particularly with manual vehicles)
- Accelerating slowly
- Not ignoring the Check Engine light
Learn more tips and the common signs of transmission issues in our blog post on caring for your car transmission.
Affordable and Reliable Transmission Repair in Chantilly & Warrenton, VA
Drivers in northern Virginia need a reliable and trustworthy transmission repair service provider. Our cold winter weather can easily ruin both transmission fluid and components. The hot and humid summers aren’t much better and could introduce moisture into your fluid lines.
Advanced Automotive has been serving drivers in Chantilly and Warrenton for more than 35 years. Our expert transmission technicians are highly educated, and all carry ASE certification. We’re familiar with all kinds of transmission systems, no matter the vehicle’s make or model.
We take pride in providing honest transmission repairs near you. Every transmission repair job at our shops begins with a thorough inspection. We will tell you exactly what’s wrong with your car while providing a cost-free estimate. We also offer quote matching to ensure you get a fair price for a proper service.
Book a transmission repair appointment today, or call our Chantilly shop at (703) 952-3221 or Warrenton shop at (504) 353-6435.