What happens when you get a transmission rebuild?

Close-up of hands working on a car transmission.

Need-to-Know Transmission Basics

If your car engine is good and the tires are good, then you’re ready to roll on the open roads, right? Not so fast …. What about that transmission? Yes, that big hunk of metal that is kind of under the car and motor. Without it, you’re not going to go anywhere! So, when the transmission isn’t working, you’re left with one question – transmission rebuild or replacement, which is better? 

Is rebuilding a transmission worth it?

Like most things in life, it depends. Questions to be answered whether you should get a transmission rebuild or replacement would be: 

  • How quickly do you need your car ready to drive again? 
  • How old is your car? 
  • How much money do you want to spend? 

What does “transmission rebuild” mean?

Rebuilding a transmission is similar to rebuilding an engine, or anything really. It is an indepth process that requires a lot of hands-on labor. The transmission rebuild steps are tedious and if they aren’t done in the right order and done correctly, it doesn’t do any good. 

How long does a transmission rebuild take?

On average, it can take between three and four days for an automatic transmission rebuild. When you take your car to a transmission shop, they will give you an estimate of money and time to either do a simple transmission repair and send you on your way or a thorough transmission rebuild. The steps for a transmission rebuild include: 

  • Removing the transmission
  • Inspecting the transmission
  • Cleaning the transmission
  • Replacing the “hard” parts of the transmission
  • Reassembling the transmission 
  • Replacing parts along the way, including bands, clutches, gaskets, seals, and more
  • Replacing the transmission in the car
  • Test Drive

How long does a transmission rebuild last?

This is another question that is answered with “it depends”, based on your driving style primarily. An average lifespan for the life of a transmission rebuild is up to 40,000 miles if it was done properly. 

A transmission repair will give you maybe 10,000 miles with normal driving habits, depending on what was repaired. If just the transmission filter and fluid was changed, and you drive to work and back, you can expect another 10,000 miles. If you drive 100 miles a day, up hills, you’ll be lucky to get 5,000 miles. A transmission rebuild gives you a “like new” transmission where all the worn parts and pieces were replaced. 

You can give your transmission rebuild or repair unit a longer life with the following: 

  • Checking the fluid level regularly
  • Changing the filter and fluid regularly
  • No aggressive driving

What are the signs your transmission is going out?

Know the early warning signs when you need to take your car to a transmission shop: 

  1. Refuses to Switch Gears
    If your car is refusing or struggling to change gears, it could be low on fluid, have the wrong fluid, or needs a transmission repair or rebuild. 
  2. Burning Smell
    If you’re noticing a burning smell coming from under your car or under the hood, get to a mechanic ASAP. It could be the engine or transmission is overheated. An overheated transmission will cause the car to overheat the engine too.
  3. Neutral Sounds
    When there are weird sounds coming from the car while in neutral, you have transmission problems. It may be something as easy as adding transmission fluid or as complex and expensive as needed transmission build or repair. 
  4. Gears Slipping
    When a car impulsively slips in and out of a gear while driving, it can be scary –  and dangerous. If you’re experiencing slipping gears, have your mechanic check it out. A simple transmission repair may be all that is needed.
  5. Dragging Clutch
    The clutch is dragging and failing to disengage from the flywheel when pushing in the clutch pedal. A transmission rebuild or repair is needed. 
  6. Leaking Fluid
    A leaking transmission is never a good thing and often means you’ll need transmission repair. However, it could be nothing more than the cap not being put back on tightly. Have your mechanic check it out. 
  7. Check Engine Light
    The check engine light will tell you a lot of things about your car, including the transmission. Have your mechanic inspect the car and determine if it is the transmission and what transmission repair is needed, if any. 
  8. Grinding and Shaking
    This is a common issue with automatic transmission, and occurs when a car is changing gears. A transmission repair could be sufficient, but if bad enough, may need a transmission rebuild. 
  9. Humming Noises
    Clunking, humming, or whining coming from your car in any direction isn’t good, especially when it is the transmission. Have your mechanic inspect the car immediately. 
  10. Unresponsive
    When changing gears, if your car doesn’t respond automatically, it may need transmission repair. However, this may be nothing more than replacing the filter and new fluid. 
Cross section of an automatic transmission.

Wrapping It Up 

What if you can’t find somewhere to get a transmission rebuild done? Maybe you’re wondering, “Can I rebuild a transmission on my own?” If you are a mechanically-inclined person with the space to spread out and keep your parts in a collective manner, yes, you can do your own transmission repair or rebuild. 

However, keep in mind that it has to go back together in the right format, or all your work is for nothing. Additionally, a rebuild kit can cost up to $300 depending on the type of car you have. If you’re interested in having a professional perform your transmission rebuild in Lombard and Wheaton, IL, call J1 Auto Repair at 630-932-4427 today!