Transmission Repair Cost

► Common Transmission Problems and Repair Cost for Each

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Transmission Problems

When you have a transmission or transaxle problem, knowing the symptoms, possible causes and estimated repair cost can make the process of getting it repaired much easier and less stressful.  Moreover, when you are knowledgeable about transmission repair costs you are much less likely to overpay for a particular repair.

Below we list common transmission problems and explain the symptoms, causes and repair cost for each. Below is a downloadable, printable PDF you can use to estimate both transmission rebuild cost and remanufactured transmission cost for your specific transmission model:

CONDITION: LOW TRANSMISSION FLUID LEVEL

SYMPTOM(S): Transmission Slipping, Delayed Gear Engagement, Hard or Erratic Shifts, No Shifts, Transmission Overheating, Transmission Failure
CAUSE(S): Transmission Fluid Leak
REPAIR: Add Transmission Fluid (ATF)
ESTIMATED REPAIR COST: Repair Shop: $20 to $30   DIY Cost: $5 to $10 for 1 Quart ATF

COMMENTS: In short, low transmission fluid can cause many different problems ranging from slipping to complete transmission failure.  The real cost of low transmission fluid is paying for the damage a low fluid condition causes.

IMPORTANT:  Transmissions do not burn or use transmission fluid like an engine burns and uses motor oil.  Therefore, if your transmission fluid level is low - you have a leak.  

More information on transmission fluid leaks

Fair Transmission Rebuild Cost and Remanufactured Transmission Cost
By Transmission Model

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CONDITION: OLD, DIRTY AND/OR OXIDIZED FLUID

SYMPTOM(S): Transmission Slipping, Delayed Gear Engagement, Hard or Erratic Shifts, No Shifts, Transmission Overheating, Transmission Failure
CAUSE(S): Transmission Not Properly Serviced, Transmission Has Overheated, Clogged Filter
REPAIR: Fluid and Filter Change or Fluid Flush.
ESTIMATED REPAIR COST: Fluid/Filter Change: Repair Shop: $120 to $225   DIY Cost: $45 to $55
ESTIMATED REPAIR COST: Fluid Flush: $140 to $320  DIY Cost: $65 to $90

NOTE: Often times, oxidized "burnt" transmission fluid means some internal transmission damage may have already occurred.  Checking the transmission fluid pan for excessive metal and clutch debris will provide more information about the condition of the transmission.

Transmission fluid and filter change Do-it-Yourself Procedures

CONDITION: TRANSMISSION FLUID LEAK

SYMPTOM(S): Low Fluid Level (See Low Transmission Fluid Level above for symptoms)
CAUSE(S): Various - Pan gasket, front seal, overfilled leak from overflow tube (on top), sensor.
REPAIR: Locate and Repair Fluid Leak
ESTIMATED REPAIR COST: Repair Shop: $50 to $500+   DIY Cost: $25 to $100

NOTE: Most transmission fluid leaks are external, meaning they can be repaired quite easily and reasonably inexpensive.  The cost will only reach, and possibly exceed, $500 when the source of the leak is internal. In order to repair an internal transmission fluid leak or front seal leak, in most models the transmission must be removed from the vehicle.

CONDITION: TRANSMISSION SLIPPING

SYMPTOMS: Engine RPMs Rev Higher than Normal But Speed Lags Behind (especially during takeoff), Slipping Between Gear Shifts, Transmission Overheating.
CAUSE(S): Low Fluid Level, Old, Dirty or Oxidized Fluid, Worn Friction Clutches, Failed Solenoid(s)
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Diagnose Cause of Slipping, Check Codes In Computer
ESTIMATED DIAGNOSTIC COST: Repair Shop: $75 to $125   DIY Cost: $0

NOTE: Cost information is for diagnostics only, not the repair.  A correct diagnosis may require a transmission scan be performed at a repair facility.

CONDITION: HARD SHIFTS, ERRATIC SHIFTS, SHIFTS INTO WRONG GEAR

SYMPTOMS: Variety of shift problems

CAUSE(S): Low fluid level, Old, dirty or oxidized fluid, Open electrical circuit, Failed shift solenoid(s), Internal issue.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Diagnose cause of shift problems

ESTIMATED DIAGNOSTIC COST: Repair Shop: $75 to $125   DIY Cost: $0

NOTE: Cost information is for diagnostics only, not the repair.  A correct diagnosis may require a transmission scan be performed at a repair facility.

CONDITION: DOES NOT SHIFT AUTOMATICALLY BUT DOES SHIFT MANUALLY

SYMPTOM(S): Only Shifts Gears When Manually Moving Shifter Lever

CAUSE(S): Open Circuit in Electrical System, Failed PCM/TCM, Failed Speed Sensor or Other Sensor

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Diagnose Cause of No Automatic Shift

ESTIMATED DIAGNOSTIC COST: Repair Shop: $75 to $125   DIY Cost: $0

NOTE: Cost information is for diagnostics only, not the repair.  A correct diagnoses of an electrical transmission problem, including computer and sensor failures, almost always requires a transmission scan be performed at a repair facility.

CONDITION: INTERMITTENT SHIFT PROBLEMS

SYMPTOM(S): Transmission Downshifts When it Shouldn’t and Then Corrects Itself

CAUSE(S): Electrical Fault, Failed Speed Sensor, Failed Throttle Position Sensor, Failed Transmission Range Sensor

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Diagnose Cause of Intermittent Shift Problems

ESTIMATED DIAGNOSTIC COST: Repair Shop: $75 to $125  DIY Cost: $0

NOTE: Cost information is for diagnostics only, not the repair.  A correct diagnosis of an electrical transmission problem, including computer and sensor failures, almost always requires a transmission scan be performed at a repair facility.

Learn more about Transmission Solenoids

CONDITION: SLIPS OUT OF GEAR WHEN WARM

SYMPTOM(S): Transmission Slips Out of Gear Intermittently When Vehicle Warms Up

CAUSE(S): Internal Seals or Valves Allowing Fluid to Pass – Causing Pressure Loss

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Transmission Rebuild or Replace with Remanufactured

ESTIMATED REBUILD COST: Rebuild Transmisison Shop Cost: $1600 to $3500+   DIY Cost: $400 to $700

ESTIMATED REPLACE COST: Replace Transmission Shop Cost: $1900 to $3800+  DIY Cost: $1200 to $3000+

NOTE: Estimated cost for transmission replacement is for purchasing a remanufactured transmission or transaxle - a used replacement transmission is considerably less costly.

See more specific costs for rebuild or remanufactured replacement

CONDITION: OVERHEATING

SYMPTOM(S): Burnt smell - motor oil, transmission fluid and/or coolant.  Smoke.  Transmission shift problems, i.e., no shifts or delayed shifts. Transmission failure.

CAUSE(S): Low fluid.  Dirty and/or oxidized fluid.  Clogged filter.  Hard driving, i.e., towing, spinning the tires, racing.  Problem with transmission oil cooler or oil cooler lines.  Slipping.  Failing transmission oil pump.  Engine overheated.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Diagnose Overheating Problem ASAP - Do not continue to drive vehicle.

ESTIMATED DIAGNOSTIC COST: Repair Shop: $75 to $125  DIY Cost: $0

NOTE: Cost information is for diagnostics only, not the repair.  A correct diagnoses may require a transmission scan be performed at a repair facility.

More information on overheating, the #1 failure reason for automatic transmissions

CONDITION: NO FORWARD GEARS

SYMPTOM(S): Transmission Has No Forward Gears – Reverse Gear May Work

CAUSE(S): Problem with Valve Body or Other Internal Problem Causing Pressure Loss

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Diagnose Problem and Repair

ESTIMATED DIAGNOSTIC COST: Repair Shop: $75 to $125  DIY Cost: $0

ESTIMATED COST: Replace Valve Body: Repair Shop: $375 to $1000+  DIY Cost: $250 to $1000+

ESTIMATED COST: Rebuild Transmission: Repair Shop: $1600 to $3500+  DIY Cost: $400 to $700

NOTE: Diagnosing a valve body problem typically requires a transmission scan be performed at a repair facility.  Most repair facilities will waive diagnostic charges when the shop makes the repair. See below for more specific rebuild/replacement costs, if necessary.

CONDITION: NO REVERSE GEAR

SYMPTOM(S): Transmission Has No Reverse Gear – Forward Gears May Work

CAUSE(S): Problem with Valve Body or Other Internal Problem Causing Pressure Loss

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Diagnose Problem and Repair

ESTIMATED DIAGNOSTIC COST: Repair Shop: $75 to $150   DIY Cost: $0

NOTE: Cost information is for diagnostics only, not the repair.  A correct diagnoses may require a transmission scan be performed at a repair facility.

CONDITION: SHIFTER LEVER LOCKS IN THE PARK POSITION

SYMPTOM(S): Shifter Lever Becomes Locked in Park – Can be an Intermittent ConditionCAUSE(S): Blown Fuse, Faulty Brake Pedal Position Switch, Faulty Shift Interlock Switch

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Diagnose Problem and Repair

ESTIMATED DIAGNOSTIC COST: Repair Shop Diagnostic Cost: $35 to $65  DIY Cost: $0

ESTIMATED COST: Repair Shop: $50 to $250   DIY Cost: $0

NOTE: The low end of the repair cost range would be for replacing a faulty brake pedal position switch (or brake light switch) while the high end of the cost range would be for replacing the shift interlock switch.

How to release a shifter that is stuck in Park

CONDITION: VEHICLE ROLLS AFTER PLACING SHIFTER IN PARK

SYMPTOM(S): Vehicle Rolls After Placing Shifter in Park

CAUSE(S): Excessively Worn or Broken Parking Pawl, Bad U-joint (Rear Wheel Drive)

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Diagnose Problem and Repair

ESTIMATED DIAGNOSTIC COST: Repair Shop Diagnostic Cost: $50 to $65  DIY Cost: $0

ESTIMATED COST: Replace Parking Pawl: Repair Shop: $500 to $1000  DIY Cost: $45 to $90

ESTIMATED COST: Replace U-Joint: Repair Shop: $75 to $115  DIY Cost: $10 to $25

NOTE: It is common practice for transmission repair shops to waive diagnostic charges when the shop does the repair. 

More information on Parking Pawls

CONDITION: SHIFTER LINKAGE PROBLEM

SYMPTOM(S): Vehicle Moves Forward When Shifter is in Neutral

CAUSE(S): Loose Shifter Linkage, Stretched or Damaged Shifter Cable, Shift Indicator Pointing to Wrong Gear

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Diagnose Problem and Repair

ESTIMATED DIAGNOSTIC COST: Repair Shop Diagnostic Cost: $40 to $50   DIY Cost: $0

ESTIMATED COST: Tighten Shifter Linkage:   Repair Shop $50 to $75  DIY Cost: $0

ESTIMATED COST: Replace Shifter Cable: Repair Shop: $125 to $250  DIY Cost: $35 to $80.  The difference between the high and low DIY cost is the cost of the shifter cable. 

CONDITION: ISSUES AFTER A 2008-UP MODEL REPLACEMENT TRANSMISSION INSTALL

SYMPTOM(S): Transmission Cannot Talk To Computer, Will Not Shift After Replacing Transmission on 2008+ Models

CAUSE(S): Most 2008-Up Models Require Dealer Computer Reflash After Replacement to specific VIN#. Also certain Mercedes models require VIN# flash to operate for anti-theft system.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Take Vehicle to Car Dealership or Shop With Computer Reflash Capability (equipment needed below)

ESTIMATED COST: Reflash Computer With VIN#:   Dealership $75 to $200  Repair Shop Cost: $60 to $200

Reflashing Shop Equipment Needed: Snap On Pass Thru Pro or DrewTech CarDAQ Plus 2 with OEM Subscriptions Required

Alternate Option: DrewTech RAP no OEM Subscription Required

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