Given its wide functional area, transmissions are a critical element in a road vehicle, allowing the car to actually move and increase speed. Numerous advances in technology have allowed transmissions to use a higher number of gears in order to improve mileage, as well as to change gears unassisted, as in the case of automatic transmissions. Through integrated gears, transmissions deliver power from the engine to the drive axles, allowing the engine to rotate at different speeds than the axles. This is why, no car owner wants to hear that his car’s transmission has failed, requiring repairs or even worse, replacement.
Although transmission repair costs are a bit high, especially in the case of automatic transmissions, there are multiple factors that need to be taken in consideration and which will reflect in the final cost of repair.
Before getting too deep into automatic transmission defects and their repair cost, one must know that, unlike older, simpler manual transmissions, an automatic transmission cannot be the subject of a DIY (do it yourself) projects. By their nature, automatic transmissions require a high level of automotive mechanics knowledge as well as a professional set of tools to work with: dynamo-metric wrenches, car elevator, etc. Automatic transmission repairs must be done in authorized service units by qualified mechanics.
One of the most common problems in automatic transmission system represents the low-level fluid damages. As transmissions use fluid in order to operate, a low level of fluid could cause extensive damage such as self-destruction of gears. A transmission features a sealed environment, so a low fluid level means somewhere a leak formed. A leak fix is usually one of the cheapest repairs done to a transmission, costs ranging between 100$ and 300$, depending on the size and position of the leak and transmission’s complexity.
Flow of fluid through the transmission is controlled through shift and pressure control solenoids. These elements are electrically operated by the transmission computer; when over-shifting or awkward gear shifting occurs on an automatic transmission, solenoids are likely to need a replacement. Unlike the fluid leak fix, solenoids replacement ranks higher in terms of cost, an average user paying between $300 and $1000 for the service.
Component failures inside the transmission are some of the most expensive to repair damages that can appear on an automatic transmission. Although modern day automatic transmissions are built to hold for miles and miles, minor undetected leaks or bad construction can cause internal gears to break and cause a spreading wave of damage. In such cases, the transmission needs to be either rebuilt or replaced.
Mechanics choose between replacing and rebuilding the transmission according to the damage level and the cost. In certain cases, replacing a transmission is the better option, as the original transmission would feature a higher repair cost or it has been rendered unusable. Again, depending on the type and model of the vehicle, a rebuilt transmission may cost between $2,500 and $4,800, while fully replacing an automatic gearbox can rise costs up to $9000, when choosing an OEM part.
As one can notice, repairing or replacing automatic transmissions feature high level costs, usually higher than other maintenance and repair costs for other parts of the vehicle. Such costs should provide an impulse for automatic transmission car owners to check for transmission damage regularly at a service shop and fix smaller problems as they occur, not letting the damage extend to other vital and more expensive components inside the gearbox.