Next to the cost of replacing an engine, replacing a transmission is the most expensive vehicle repair an owner can make. Expect to pay between $1800 and $2500 for completely replacing a transmission. Having the original transmission repair (rebuilding the transmission) is even pricier, averaging $3000 or more, depending on the extent of the damage and make of the vehicle.
Making repairs to a faulty transmission as soon as problems are detected dramatically reduces the cost of transmission work and can prevent the need for transmission replacement. If your car starts exhibiting any one of the following issues, get it to a transmission repair shop as soon as possible. Car problems do not correct themselves or magically disappear! They only worsen and cause more damage to the engine.
Car Shakes When the Gears Shift (for both manual and automatic transmissions)
Normally functioning transmissions keep your ride smooth during gear shifts. Automatic transmissions that shift hard, jerk or shake during a shift change may mean your transmission fluid needs changed or fluid level is low. In manual transmission vehicles, abnormal gear shifts could indicate damaged gear synchros, worn clutches or other, more severe issues.
You Can Smell Fluid Burning
Extremely hot transmission fluid has a distinct, acrid smell that does not smell like burning oil but more like burning rubber. Burning transmission fluid indicates a leak that is dripping onto hot engine parts or seriously dirty fluid that needs drained and replaced with new transmission fluid. Running your car with old, contaminated transmission fluid is just as harmful to the engine and transmission as never changing the oil.
Noises in Neutral
If you suspect your transmission needs attention, trying putting your car in neutral and listening for unusual whining, groaning or ticking noises. Wear and tear on parts such as bearings or gear teeth often cause noises that indicate a failing transmission.
Healthy transmissions keep your car in one gear until you decide to change the gear. When your transmission "slips", it may show an RPM of 3500+ or take a long time to coast. Additionally, your vehicle may seem to delay accelerating when you press on the gas, which is an indication that it is not transmitting enough power to the engine's internal combustion part. Transmission slips could also result from broken or worn out bands.
Your Vehicle Won't Go Into Gear
Low transmission fluid may prevent your car from engaging the drive or reverse gear, which indicates a leak probably exists somewhere in the lines. For cars with manual transmissions, it could be a sign of a worn clutch plate if the vehicle manages to engage and creep a little bit forward. Regardless of whether it is a minor fix, automobiles that don't slide easily into gear require immediate attention by a professional mechanic.
Leaking Transmission Fluid
Causes of transmission fluids leaks include loose pans, improperly tightened bolts or unsecured drain plugs, cracked pan gaskets and damaged toque converters or fluid lines. Constantly replacing lost transmission fluid isn't the answer to correcting these problems, either. Your transmission nor your engine will operate efficiently when fluid levels experience wild fluctuations. Getting the leak repaired so that fluid levels remain steady will dramatically extend the life of your vehicle.
Your Check Engine Light Comes On and Stays On
You might not hear strange noises or notice a pool of red transmission fluid under your car but when your "check engine" light comes on, you really need to do exactly what it says and get your engine and transmission checked professionally. Although newer cars are equipped with extra-sensitive sensors that can detect the smallest engine irregularities, all instances of the "check engine" light coming on needs properly diagnosed by a transmission specialist.