Northwest Metro Denver

3686 W. 72nd Ave
Westminster, CO 80030
8AM – 5:30PM Mon-Fri

(303) 421-4140

(303) 421-4140

Southwest Metro Denver

SE Corner Mississippi & Pierce
1194 S. Pierce
Lakewood CO 80232
8AM – 5:30PM Mon-Fri

(303) 922-4102

(303) 922-4102

Lakewood 303-922-4102

Westminster 303-422-4140

How Long Does Your Transmission Last

The longevity of a transmission and other driveline components can differ greatly and is influenced by numerous factors. Some include the vehicle application, maintenance history, and operating conditions. Yet there are certain transmissions that tend to last longer, all things being equal. It is worth exploring some characteristics impacting the life of the major component before needing an overhaul or replacement.


Many items from decades ago were better made than they are today, but transmissions are an exception. A Ford C-3 or Chevy TH350 from 50 years ago has a very different life expectancy — i.e., shorter — than a 6R80 or 6L90 found in comparable trucks today. Part of the reason newer transmissions last longer is the advancements in materials and fluids used. Certainly, engineering has improved, and electrification has allowed for increased durability in many drivetrain components. The increased number of gears also allows for a transmission to be in a more optimal setting or gear ratio relative to vehicle speed and RPMs.

transmission length of lifeThe shorter life of an older transmission, however, should not be blamed on the engineers or the materials used. It simply was not the target. Older vehicles normally had an odometer with only five digits. The expectation of most drivers was that the useful life of a vehicle was under 100,000 miles. Why design a transmission to go 150,000 miles if the rest of the vehicle won’t make it? An automatic transmission from the 1960s and 1970s could be expected to achieve 50,000 miles before needing a rebuild. However, vehicles today typically achieve more than double that figure! In general, transmissions, transfer cases, and differentials last longer on modern vehicles than their predecessors from prior decades.

The Age-Old Question: Manual versus Automatic

The debate of which is better, an automatic or manual transmission, has been a heated conversation between drivers for years. The truth is that from a longevity standpoint, a highly trained and responsible driver should be able to achieve a longer life from a manual transmission. There are fewer moving components; therefore, a manual gearbox generates less heat than its counterpart, resulting in parts that don’t wear as quickly. Also, there are limited (or no) electronics in most manual transmissions, unlike automatic transmissions that are today filled with numerous sensors, solenoids, and TEHCMs.

Each of these components has a limited life and will eventually fail. Traditionally, the complexity of an automatic transmission is what accounted for the higher price tag found with new vehicles that were equipped with automatics rather than manuals. That price difference has dwindled as over 95% of new vehicles sold are equipped with some form of an automatic transmission.

Which Manufacturers Build Sturdier Transmissions

ford transmission lifeNo vehicle manufacturer has ever designed a perfect transmission that lasts forever. Every model of transmission ever engineered and used in a vehicle has failed at some point. Yet certain models have failed with a higher frequency or had shorter life cycles than others.

One example of a common transmission failure is on the Ford PowerShift. Otherwise known as a dual-clutch transmission, this uniquely designed transmission can be found in many small Ford sedans such as the Focus, Fiesta, and EcoSport. Unfortunately, the rates of failure for these units are high, and many specialty transmission shops do not possess the factory training to address the issues that are both mechanical and involve electronics.

Another example of interesting engineering that has resulted in subpar results is the introduction of continuously variable transmissions (CVT) to small and medium passenger vehicles. Different manufacturers have varying levels of success with this version of an automatic transmission. For example, the failure rates for Honda CVTs tend to be substantially lower than those realized by competitors Nissan and Subaru. This implies the fundamental design of the CVT is not really the problem but rather the execution of specific models engineered by specific manufacturers.

In both cases of the Ford PowerShift and CVT, the motivation behind these designs was achieving greater fuel economy. A good argument can be made that the goal was accomplished; however, there is a counterargument that durability and longevity were compromised. It is difficult to estimate how long a transmission will last because of the numerous models and manufacturers involved today compared to a smaller group 50 years ago. Some automatic transmissions can last beyond 200,000 without ever needing a replacement or rebuild; however, that is extremely uncommon. Unless there is a known example of a transmission model that experiences common premature failure, one can expect today’s automatic transmission to last between 100,000 and 150,000 miles.

Trust Your Drivetrain Specialist

Some of the vehicle’s most complex components can be found in the drivetrain. That includes your transmission, transfer case (also known as a power transfer unit), and differentials. Why risk servicing or repairing these components at the same general auto shop that does oil changes and replaces brake pads? Trust your transmission specialists at Advanced Transmission Center for all your driveline needs. Call now or contact us to schedule a TrueTest InspectionTM, which is a tailored diagnostic procedure covering your transmission and driveline components. Across five decades, our team has been “Geared for Customer Service!”

Owner at Advanced Transmission Center | Website | + posts

Advanced Transmission Center is a Colorado-owned and operated auto repair shop with locations in Denver / Lakewood and Westminster. ATC specializes in driveline issues such as automatic transmission repair, four wheel drive repair, clutch replacement, differentials, manual transmissions and CVT. As Colorado's first AAA approved shop our goal is to provide accurate, timely service with exceptional customer satisfaction. All of our technicians are certified in the latest makes and models and we are one of the few transmission repair shops with a nationwide warranty.

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Our Commitment to You

Free towing is just one of the ways we strive to save you money on a major in-house repair such as a transmission rebuild. With our thorough TrueTest™ Inspection process, you will fully understand what is wrong with your car and only pay for the repairs you need.
Every transmission repair should start with a thorough and accurate diagnosis of the problem. Our multi-step TrueTest inspection procedures have been designed over decades to identify whether a minor repair can fix your issue or if a major repair is required.
We can turn around a transmission repair in as little as 2 days with our fast services! Our in-house rebuild department, expert technicians and strong vendor relationships help us get vehicles fixed ASAP. It also helps to have two local repair shops with identical operating procedures and quality standards.
After a major repair, you can take a breath and know Advanced Transmission Center has your back! We offer various warranty options (1-year, 2-year, 3-year, local or nationwide) and make sure any warranty claim is hassle-free for our customers.

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