Few items in your car are quite as expensive as your transmission. Because of the incredibly high cost, many owners are understandably terrified when they hear that their transmission is about to breathe its last. Unfortunately, transmission problems don't age like fine wine, and simple fixes are rarely an option. If you find yourself in this position, then you have a few options. Choosing the right one can be tricky, but your budget and your long-term plans for your car can help guide you to the right choice.
The most straightforward option to deal with a busted transmission is to replace it with a new factory component. Buying a new transmission is an option for most cars that are reasonably new, but you may have to choose a used or remanufactured model if your vehicle is more than a decade or two old. Brand-new transmissions are expensive, but they come with manufacturer warranties, and shops are often willing to provide more extended labor guarantees. If you can afford a new transmission and you intend to keep your car for the long haul, then this is a good option.
Used or Rebuilt Transmissions
If you want to avoid new parts, you can also opt to buy a used or remanufactured transmission. What's the difference? A used transmission is a functional unit that has been pulled off of another vehicle. Remanufactured units are used as well, but they have been rebuilt from the ground up. Used transmissions are often cheaper than rebuilt units and may come with less extensive warranties. If you can't afford a new transmission, then a rebuilt unit with a solid warranty is a good alternative. Used transmissions should be avoided unless they include significant parts and labor warranties.
Finally, rebuilding your transmission is often an alternative to replacing it outright. While this may seem like a budget-friendly route to take, always be cautious and ask for a detailed price breakdown. The parts cost of a rebuild is low, but the labor is extensive. The shop will remove your transmission from the car, disassemble it, replace a bevy of internal parts, and ultimately reassemble and reinstall it. In many cases, the labor for this process can exceed the cost of even a new transmission! Although they aren't always the right option, it's still worth discussing the cost of a rebuild with your transmission shop.
A busted transmission can be a real pain in the wallet, but repairing or replacing it is often more cost-effective than scrapping the car altogether. By discussing your options with a transmission shop, you are likely to arrive at a fix that will fit your budget and get your car back on the road.