Is Rebuilding a Transmission Worth It?

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Vehicle transmissions work twice as hard transmitting energy from the engine to the wheels thus susceptible to wear and tear. Sooner or later, they stop functioning properly, and you need to decide whether rebuilding your transmission is worth it.

A key component of any car is its transmission. Once this gives way, controlling your vehicle becomes an impossible task. You can either choose to rebuild or replace the transmission in question. Choosing the former can be a great option, depending on your circumstances.

Repair vs. Rebuild – What’s the Difference?

There are three alternatives available when dealing with a faulty transmission. You can either repair, rebuild, or replace the entire component. Replacing the transmission can be a costly endeavor and something that might not always be financially possible. Repairing or rebuilding it can provide a more economical solution.

Though the two may sound similar, there are significant differences between repair and rebuilding options. Repairing a transmission involves working on the existing parts of the system in a bid to rejuvenate their capabilities. Rebuilding a transmission, on the other hand, deals with completely replacing the various parts that have been damaged.

In some cases, it’s impossible to repair the transmission as the parts involved may be too damaged. This can leave one with no other choice but to rebuild if they’re seeking an affordable solution. In any case, rebuilding a transmission is preferable whenever one has the option – as some repairs may not last very long when dealing with old parts.

Why Rebuild your Transmission?

For those who may be asking the question, whether rebuilding a transmission is worth it – take a look at the potential benefits you could potentially enjoy, which can better answer this question. You should note that depending on the particular situation involved, not everyone can enjoy these perks. Thus, you should compare the advantages available with this option to your own circumstances first to see if they fit.

Should You Buy a Car with a Rebuilt Transmission?
Buying a car with a rebuilt transmission may seem like a gamble to any prospective buyer, but that need not be the case. Rebuilding a transmission involves disassembling the entire transmission, replacing the worn-out parts, usually the seal, gasket, and bands with new parts before reassembling it and placing it back into the vehicle.

A professionally done transmission rebuild should restore a failing transmission to a brand new status. It should also last as long as a new unit provided that the mechanic paid attention to detail and had the right skill level to undertake such a task.

Some of the factors that could motivate one to rebuild their transmission include:

Financial Elements

As mentioned earlier, money is usually the driving factor when it comes to making such a decision. Due to the activities involved, rebuilding a transmission will always be the cheaper alternative on a short-term basis. However, gauging the economic benefits of this option transcends this timeline – as you need something that can last for a significant period.

Rebuilding a transmission can cost between $2500 to $3000 on average. Buying a replacement, however, will tend to cost a bit more depending on your needs. This means a rebuild can save you a couple of hundred dollars when offered by a fair service provider. Lowering your overall expenses by any level is not something that should be ignored by someone looking to save some money.

The kind of rebuild needed, however, will also affect the financial perks that can be enjoyed. If a majority of the parts need replacing, for example, then you will find this option just as costly as the replacement alternative. In some rare cases, it might even cost you more money as the items will be purchased as different parts and not a whole product. In such cases, it’s better to simply replace your transmission with a new one.


Rebuilding a transmission offers a more practical approach as compared to other options. If you simply need to replace a few gaskets, seals, and bands – then getting a whole new one would not make much sense. Not only would the overall cost become unnecessarily expensive – but the time and labor involved would increase as well.

Choosing to rebuild can offer you a faster solution if you’re not keen on your vehicle is on the sidelines for a long period. Replacing a transmission can take between two to four days, depending on the kind of transmission involved. Rebuilding a transmission, on the other hand, could cost considerably less. This is especially true when the parts needing attention are few and involve straightforward solutions.

Long Term Plans

Another element that could greatly affect your decision to rebuild or replace your transmission is the long term plans you might have for the vehicle. If you intend on buying another car soon, then getting a new transmission for your old one would not make much sense – especially when rebuilding it could cost significantly less.

If all you need from the vehicle at the moment is to keep it running until you can get its replacement – then opting for the cheapest solution is the best way to go. In cases where even rebuilding the transmission could cost a pretty penny – choosing to get rid of it early might be a better option. This is also a preferable alternative, should the period between then and when you get a new car be a relatively short one.

How long will a Rebuilt Transmission Last?

There’s no point in rebuilding a transmission that will require professional attention a short while after it’s complete. How long a rebuilt transmission can last, however, is not always a straightforward matter. There are a variety of alternatives in the market when it comes to these parts – and such elements can influence the answer to this question.

If you implement used or salvaged parts, for example, then it will likely last a shorter period as compared to one that boasts new parts. The quality of the parts you add to the system can also prove to an influential factor in this issue as well. This means that the life expectancy of a rebuilt transmission can be different in various scenarios – depending on the circumstances and conditions involved.

Generally speaking, a rebuilt transmission should last an additional 30, 000 to 50, 000 miles depending on a variety of factors. If all the parts implemented are in good working condition and you ensure you maintain the vehicle efficiently – then you shouldn’t expect any more trouble before this mark has been attained. Unfortunately, there is no established method that has been developed to calculate exactly how long a particular transmission can last.

In general, is that having a professional handle your rebuilding needs is the best way to ensure that your vehicle enjoys proper servicing. Scanting out on new parts when such tactics are unnecessary might only cause you more problems in the future.

How long will a rebuilt transmission last?

This will depend on the miles it has since the rebuild and the condition of the rest of the car. A car’s transmission is the one component that transfers energy created by the engine to the wheels making it more susceptible to wear and tear. Anything with 10,000 plus miles on it can be classified as a reliable rebuilt transmission as it has proven to be functional.

The same goes for a rebuild that has yet to clock any mileage provided the mechanic knew what he/she was doing, and quality parts were used during repair. A rebuilt transmission can last up to 200,000 miles with proper maintenance. A professionally done rebuild can last up to 5 years if proper maintenance is practiced.

Advantages of buying a car with a rebuilt transmission vs. buying a used or new car

  • Upgraded components

Manufacturers tend to modify parts that are known to fail. This is one way to stay accountable and relevant to the consumers by ensuring they sell a product that gets stronger and more durable with time. Since rebuilding a transmission involves swapping out failing parts with new, chances are one or two of the new pieces will be upgraded versions of the original part. New transmissions, on the other hand, collect dust until they are purchased and do not get fitted with upgraded components until they fail.

A used transmission is just that-used and will more likely have damaged internal components than upgraded ones.

  • Durable

Rebuilt transmissions have had all the bad worn out parts replaced with new functioning parts. It should, therefore, last as long as a new transmission with the right transmission maintenance practices. But you shouldn’t take the sellers word for it and have a certified transmission mechanic inspect it for any problems before making a purchase. Buying a used transmission in this instance is a gamble since you won’t be able to tell the extent of the damage until you have a mechanic take it apart.

  • No history

Unlike a used transmission, a rebuilt transmission is a blank canvas since it is technically a new transmission that has no history. A rebuilt transmission no longer has worn out or failing parts since they were swapped out for new and in some cases upgraded parts.

Also, the term rebuild doesn’t necessarily mean that the transmission had serious faults to begin with-some may have only had their seals and gaskets replaced. With a used transmission, you will have to worry about mileage, unresolved problems, and previous care and maintenance practices. Its reliability is unknown and could end up being more expensive than a rebuild at the end of the day.

  • Cheaper

Buying a car with a rebuilt transmission is less expensive than purchasing a new or used vehicle. This may seem less true for a used vehicle, but what people least expect is the number of hidden costs that can come with a faulty used transmission. You will have to pay a mechanic to give it a full diagnostic test to ensure it is in working order and catch any issues that may worsen.

  • Warranty

Rebuilt transmissions will typically come with a warranty, unlike a used transmission which is most of the time is sold from a junkyard. Though rare, some used transmission sold by dealerships will come with a 30-day warranty which is still a shorter period when compared to that offered on rebuilt and new transmissions. The warranty period covered on a rebuilt transmission, however, will range from 90 days to 12 months. It may also not include labor costs. It is, therefore, necessary to carefully go through the terms and conditions on any warranty offered on a rebuilt transmission before purchase.


One major drawback of buying a car with a rebuilt transmission is there is no way to confirm that quality parts were used during repair. You will be in the dark until your transmission fails to function properly within a short period of time. You should, therefore, make sure that your transmission was refurbished at a reputable auto repair shop and by a highly skilled mechanic.

It’s also worth mentioning that buying a car with a rebuilt transmission can be just as costly as buying a new car. This is because transmissions are complex vehicle components, and the cost will vary depending on the car make/model, transmission type, and the extent of damage that had to be repaired.

In conclusion

Rebuilding a transmission is very possible with enough money you will get yourself a perfectly rebuilt transmission. The process and cost match that of getting a new car, so maybe instead of going for a refurbished transmission it would be best to get a new car that has been installed with a new transmission.

However, the advantages of buying a car with a rebuilt transmission far outweigh the disadvantages which can be offset by ensuring a professional transmission expert rebuilt the transmission in question and that the auto repair shop offers a good deal on its warranty.

With the right upkeep, any transmission can have a longer lifespan. Besides a rebuilt transmission can last for 200,000 plus miles or only offer 15,000 miles. It is all dependent on the skill level of the mechanic and the quality of parts used during the rebuild. But once you do your due diligence buying a car with a rebuilt transmission is nothing to be skeptical about.



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Steven Reilly is a qualified mechanic and his passion for cars goes beyond just the technical aspects. He is also an amateur racer and all round car enthusiast. When he is not driving them, he can often be found in his garage under the hood of a rare model. Steven Reilly has lost track of the number of hours he has spent setting up his fine collection of rebuilt models. He believes that cars can provide a constructive and fun opportunity to teach the youth important life skills. In line with this, he is developing a community outreach program, potentially dubbed ‘Cars for change'.
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