Transmission Rebuild vs Replace: What to Do with a Failed Transmission

When a transmission is having trouble, there are warning signs. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we always pay attention to them. Now, your car won’t move—no forward, no reverse—and you’re wishing you’d visited a repair shop. The real question is should you rebuild it or scrap it.

There are a lot of factors that come into play when deciding if you should rebuild your current transmission or install a newer one. Not all of them are always logic-based. For instance, if a car has high mileage, you might ask if it’s worth doing anything. Maybe you should get something different. However, maybe you really love your car. Or, is it rare or one-of-a-kind? These factors also influence the decision you will make.

What Does a Rebuild Include?

There is no question. Rebuilding your existing transmission remains very popular with owners. Of course, this is best done by your local transmission shop and not your regular mechanic. Rebuilding a transmission properly requires a specialist trained to do that job specifically. There are hundreds of different parts inside a transmission, and once it has been taken apart, it could be a nightmare for someone unfamiliar with them to know where, exactly, each one belongs.

The process of rebuilding the transmission involves removing the transmission from the vehicle, draining the fluid and taking it all apart, cleaning every part, replacing the worn-out parts—including clutch plates and bands, seals, gaskets and solenoids—then putting it all back together again and re-installing it.

What Happens if I Scrap it?

If you scrap the transmission, you have to replace it with a different one, or your vehicle will just become a driveway ornament. This means you’ll most likely replace it with a remanufactured transmission.

Remanufacturing a transmission is a very involved process that takes a failed transmission and restoring it back to factory standards in a factory setting. This also includes upgrading the transmission with any fixes or updates from the manufacturer. This could include modifications to identified weak points that caused the failure. In this way, it is as close to new, without being new, as possible.

The process is similar to that of a standard rebuild, by taking it apart, draining fluid, inspecting and cleaning all the parts, and checking them against original specifications. If they are determined to be worn or damaged, they are replaced with new parts.

Next, the valve body is tested and brought back to original specs, metal surfaces are measured and repaired, and then all electronic components and solenoids are installed with any remaining electrical parts.

The case is machined and painted before the transmission is reassembled, then tested and quality checked. Once done, it is placed in storage until purchased. 

Which Do We Recommend?

Due to the highly technical nature of automatic transmissions today, most dealerships do not have transmission technicians in their service department. What this means is, if you have a transmission problem, they will recommend that your transmission be totally replaced. Most often, they will replace it with a remanufactured unit, not a new one. In most cases, you do not need a whole new transmission. You need some work on your transmission and many times that work is minor. Even if it turns out to be a major repair, most of the time it will cost less to rebuild your transmission than to replace.

Advanced Transmission Centers have been rebuilding and repairing transmissions for people in Denver, Lakewood, Golden, Arvada, Westminster, Littleton, Englewood, Thornton and Northglen since 1986.

We have the experience to get the job done right. Call our Westminster (Northwest Denver) location at (303) 421-4140, our Lakewood (Southwest Denver) location at (303) 922-4102 or contact us online to get started today with our free TrueTest Inspection!

Written by Advanced Transmission Center