Hearing from your mechanic that you need repairs to your transmission, or even worse, a completely new transmission, can be unsettling due to the reputation that this is a costly task. Historically, transmission repairs can be one of the most expensive projects many car owners will encounter. The total cost for a transmission repair can vary between $2,000 and $6,000, which is no small amount of money.
We’ll address the common symptoms of a damaged transmission along with what often needs to be fixed for it to be completely functional again. We’ll also ask, “Is it worth it?”, as many owners elect to sell their car if the costs to repair will be greater than the sale price. Depending on your situation, you might choose to fix it yourself, pay your mechanic to rebuild it, or contact a junk car buyer in Chicago to take it off your hands.
Common Symptoms of Transmission Damage and How Much the Repairs Will Cost
Since we spend so much time in our vehicles, you know your car and how it drives better than anyone else. If it starts driving differently that’s a clear sign there’s an issue that needs your attention and warrants a visit to your repair shop. When it comes to your transmission, catching issues sooner than later can save your engine and keep repair costs down. Below are the common signs that your transmission is beginning to experience failures and what it will cost to fix them.
Transmission Fluid Leaks
Thankfully, many transmission-related issues come from transmission fluid leaks. Unfortunately, dismissing these leaks can quickly result in more serious damages that will compound the costs to repair. To avoid this, take note if you begin to struggle while shifting your vehicle’s gears or if you smell a burnt chemical aroma upon exiting the vehicle, as both of these symptoms can indicate you have a transmission fluid leak. Fresh transmission fluid has a sweet smell, whereas transmission fluid that has broken down and burns too hot will lead to the burnt smell we mentioned. This is because there’s an increase in friction and corrosive activity in the engine. Thankfully, this is repairable, but it shouldn’t be delayed unnecessarily.
While a short-term leak of transmission fluid is not the end of the world, dismissing this as “the new normal” will certainly lead to more serious problems. It’s because of this urgency that we recommend any difficulties shifting between gears be looked at by your mechanic in the coming days after you notice it. Decreasing fluid levels not only run the risk of overheating, but it can damage other components of your system. Commonly, this is due to a bad seal on your transmission. If you have a compromised seal, you can identify transmission fluid by its red color and it’s regularly found beneath the center of your engine in your garage or parking spot.
Generally speaking, repairing the front seal on your transmission will cost you anywhere from $500 to $1,500+. This span varies due to make and model of the vehicle, severity of the damage, and specifics with your shop’s labor rates.
Signs Your Transmission is Slipping
When your transmission slips, it will often feel like the vehicle is slow to respond. This is commonly noticed the first time when your vehicle doesn’t respond to your acceleration attempts from a stoplight or as you’re entering an on-ramp. Sometimes it’s really apparent and it won’t respond at all, even when you press the gas pedal completely. This noticeable change in the transmission’s performance can also be accompanied by a noise or change in pitch as it changes gears, which is often described as a whine. Lastly, another example is when you’re driving along and it literally slips from being engaged to the neutral position. All of these incidents are a clear sign that a transmission issue is on your horizon.
The culprit for slipping transmissions are more diverse and span many areas of the system. The most frequent reasons include solenoid problems, clutch issues, or worn out gears.
What’s a Defective Transmission Solenoid?
Your transmission solenoid is an electro-magnetic component that regulates the flow of transmission fluid in your transmission. Every time you shift gears, your car’s onboard computer activates the transmission solenoid that pushes transmission fluid so you can engage the right gear. Solenoid malfunctions result in not enough fluid being passed through to the transmission. Similar to a bad front seal, this can lead to overheating and the slipping we’ve discussed here. Repairing your transmission solenoid will cost you anywhere from $200 to $600 depending on the same factors as before (make, model, severity of issue, labor rates).
Signs Of A Worn Clutch That Needs Replacement
The symptoms associated with a problematic clutch also vary, but the common signs are grinding noises, a spongy or soft clutch, the clutch pedal sticking to the floor, and a pulsating clutch pedal that’s far from normal behavior. Thankfully, a good clutch should last up to and beyond 100,00 miles, so this isn’t something you regularly see in new vehicles. However, that can be decreased down to 50,000 miles or so if you commute in stop-and-go traffic where you’re interacting with the clutch much more frequently than one who enjoys a more effortless commute.
There are a lot of components that can fail within your clutch assembly and these variances quickly offer up different repair costs. The big ones can include the clutch disc, clutch cable, or mismatched linkage. One the low end you have replacing the clutch cable, which costs around $150 to $250. On the other end of the spectrum you have repairs to the clutch disc, which will run you approximately $1,000 to $1,500.
Worn Out Transmission Gears
If you’re driving a high-mileage used vehicle, there’s a chance that the gears in your transmission are wearing out. This isn’t necessarily the result of bad driving habits, as it can occur to many vehicles, but it can also occur to those vehicles that haven’t had proper maintenance or attention. As you can visualize, the gears function by transferring engine power to wheels (via the driveshaft in rear-wheel-drive vehicles or axle half shafts for front-wheel-drive vehicles). The multiple gears inside the vehicle’s transmission change the drive-wheel speed and torque in relation to engine speed and torque. Under normal circumstances, your car’s gears are meant to seamlessly interact and engage with one another to propel your vehicle as you cycle to higher gears and help slow your momentum as you cycle back down. When the teeth of your gears begin to wear down, it can cause harsh gear alignment and choppy interactions.
In theory, you could replace a single gear in your transmission, but the reality is that if you’re experiencing gear damage it’s not exclusively tied to that damaged piece. It’s more likely a systemic issue where the replaced gear would malfunction again or another associated part that was never repaired but contributed to the damage, becomes worse. Since your mechanic likely already dumped tons of labor time into getting in and exploring the gears, most shops suggest rebuilding at that point, which would be the full value of repairing your transmission.
Is It Worth Repairing a Transmission?
As we’ve tried to convey above, having a transmission repair is something that can be manageable if caught early enough, but is it worth repairing if you’ve got an older vehicle that’s not worth a lot of money? Honestly, it’s up to you and we’ve held on to cars that others might have sold earlier because we loved them or believed they had many more years ahead of them. However, keep in mind that parts and labor will regularly cost over $1,500 and into the $6,000 range when all is said and done. While the best case scenario is a simple fix to one component, oftentimes when one portion of the transmission is experiencing problems it’s indicative of more widespread repairs. We share this because if you have a transmission issue you should expect to pay over $1,000 but brace for more. If your vehicle is worth less than the mechanic’s quote to repair your transmission, it could be lucrative to sell it as-is. Depending on your unique situation, Cash for Junk Cars in Chicago regularly pays our customers cash for their unwanted vehicles. Even better, we don’t need it to be running for us to buy it from you, so leaving the broken transmission is perfectly acceptable to us! For more information, please contact us for a free quote today!