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How much does a transmission cost?

Replacing a transmission starts at around $4,000

Profile picture of Danni White
by Danni White ConsumerAffairs Research Team
mechanic working on transmission

Transmission problems can disable your vehicle, and whether you’re trying to diagnose issues or see if your mechanic is giving you a fair deal, it helps to know what you’re up against. This article will help you understand what a transmission is, how to know if yours is faulty and what your options are for getting it fixed.

What is a transmission?

Your car’s transmission has roughly the same function as the gears and chain on a bicycle. As part of your drivetrain, it helps transfer power created by your engine to your wheels.

Transmissions also make sure the vehicle maintains a safe number of revolutions per minute (RPMs) by switching gears, but they do this in different ways:

  • Manual transmissions require your input to change gears when your RPMs are near the redline.
  • Automatic transmissions switch gears on their own.
  • Continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) are a type of automatic transmission that shift through an uninterrupted range of gear ratios.

Most automatic transmissions are made up of planetary gear sets, a hydraulic system, seals, gaskets, a torque converter and a computer. Five or six gears is normal in most modern cars, but current cars in production can have up to 10 gears.

Common transmission problems

If you’re having car trouble and you’re not sure if your transmission is the cause, here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Not staying in gear: If your car is switching gears at the wrong time, it could be due to a number of problems within the transmission, including leaking fluid or faulty shifter cables. In newer vehicles, your vehicle’s computer may point this out for you, but in older ones, you’ll need to watch for this on your own.
  • High-revving engine: With a faulty transmission, your engine may rev higher than normal. This may also be accompanied by your transmission slipping.
  • Burning smell: An unexplained burning smell can be due to low fluid within your transmission. You might just need to add fluid, but if you have added fluid and you still smell something, you could have a transmission fluid leak.
  • Grinding gears: If it sounds like your gears are grinding as they shift, especially with a manual transmission, you might have a problem with your shifter, shift synchronizer rings or clutch.
  • Weird noises: Other sounds, like whirring, humming and clunking, can be signs of a bad transmission. In some cases, it might just be a sign that fluid is low, but it’s important to check it out either way.
  • Shaking: If you feel a weird shaking sensation when switching gears, it could be a sign of a bigger transmission issue.
  • No movement: It’s a pretty serious issue if your vehicle won’t respond to your throttle input while in gear. While there are a lot of reasons why this could be, the transmission is a common culprit.

Just because you’re experiencing one of these issues doesn’t mean your transmission is to blame. Many of these symptoms can be caused by other vehicle issues as well. Other moving components in your engine can cause a grinding sound, and a burning smell can come from lots of places.

That’s why it’s important to reach out to a licensed mechanic when you notice problems. Ideally, you can catch the issue before it starts to get worse or cause other, more costly problems.

Your technician can help diagnose and fix the problem, but it’s difficult to know if they’re presenting all your options and giving you a fair price. We’ve broken down some of the main ways to fix a transmission and what you can expect to pay for them below.

Just because you’re experiencing one of these issues doesn’t mean your transmission is to blame.”

How much does transmission replacement cost?

If your transmission requires a full replacement, you can expect to spend between $4,000 and $7,000, based on our estimates. However, your price will depend on the make, model and year of your vehicle. In many cases, a manual transmission is more affordable to replace than an automatic one.

We gathered estimates for replacing a transmission in three sample vehicles in Austin, Texas, to help give you an idea of what this transmission service might cost you. See the results below.

VehicleParts costLabor costTotal cost
2016 Honda Civic$3,363 to $3,606$584 to $645$3,947 to $4,251
2016 Ford F-150$3,884 to $4,165$1,656 to $1,794$5,540 to $5,959
2018 BMW 740i$4,660 to $4,999$1,987 to $2,152$6,647 to $7,151

*Estimates gathered from AAA’s car repair estimate tool.

2016 Honda Civic$3,363 to $3,606$584 to $645$3,947 to $4,251
2016 Ford F-150$3,884 to $4,165$1,656 to $1,794$5,540 to $5,959
2018 BMW 740i$4,660 to $4,999$1,987 to $2,152$6,647 to $7,151

Newer, higher-end vehicles often require more expensive parts, while cheaper vehicles usually have corresponding parts costs. If you have a luxury car, you may be able to save money if the manufacturer also makes cheaper models with compatible parts.

Transmission prices also depend on what kind of transmission you’re having installed. Our quotes are in line with what you can expect when buying a new transmission from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), but you can usually save money by choosing a rebuilt or remanufactured transmission.

How much does transmission repair cost?

Depending on the extent of your vehicle's transmission problems, transmission repair can be a viable alternative to a rebuild or replacement. However, transmission repair cost is hard to estimate since there's so much variety in repair type.

Your mechanic should check for key issues that can be fixed easily before doing any more serious fixes. The solution could be as simple as adding fluids, a transmission fluid change or a transmission flush. Other minor repairs might cost you several hundred dollars, though.

If your issue is minor or you just need to get back to driving affordably, repairs can be a good option. The problem with minor repairs is that they might not solve the underlying issue that caused them, leaving you with more extensive repairs down the road. Adding fluid may help for the time being, but it won’t fix the potential leak that caused the issue in the first place. Talk to your mechanic about whatever issues they identify, and ask if there are any root problems that may also need to be addressed.

Is it worth rebuilding or replacing a transmission?

Because transmissions are so complicated, a fix can range anywhere from adding new transmission fluid to rebuilding 75% of the components. Rebuilt transmissions aren’t cheap, and if your issue requires a significant rebuild, most reputable mechanics will recommend an entire transmission replacement. While this can be even more expensive, it’s generally also more reliable. In many cases, a replacement transmission even comes with a warranty.

Sometimes you might actually be better off cutting your losses and buying a new car, though. If your car is relatively old and not worth more than a few thousand dollars, the return on investment for a new transmission may not be worth it. If you have a newer car that still has plenty of resale value, a new transmission is more likely to be a good choice. Whatever your situation, balance the cost of fixing your transmission with the value of your vehicle to make a smart decision.

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    How often should you change transmission fluid?

    Once you have your transmission fixed, you should keep up with maintenance to help make sure you don’t encounter any more problems in the future. One of the easiest ways to ensure the continued health of your transmission is keeping up with its fluids. Transmission fluid lubricates the bearings and gears inside your transmission, but like the oil in your engine, it must be flushed out and replaced every so often.

    Some manufacturers recommend changing your transmission fluid every 150,000 miles, whereas some mechanics recommend changing it every 50,000 miles. If your vehicle has a manual transmission, you might need to replace the fluid more often than with an automatic transmission. Refer to your owner’s manual to see what your manufacturer recommends for your make and model.

    How much does it cost to rebuild transmission?

    Rebuilding a transmission will cost about half the price of replacing a transmission. That means you should expect to spend between $2,000 and $3,500, based on our estimates. In some cases, it might be more than that, depending on the complexity of the situation.

    A rebuild is labor-intensive and should be done by a transmission specialist, so the cost depends less on the parts needed and more on how much time and effort goes into the process. In a worst-case scenario, a mechanic might begin the rebuild process just to decide that a transmission replacement is necessary after all.

    Frequently asked questions

    A new transmission should last anywhere from 150,000 to 200,000 miles, but there are always exceptions. Taking care of your vehicle is a cost-efficient way to ensure that your transmission lasts as long as possible.
    Generally speaking, just drive the car and watch for signs of slipping gears, delayed engagement or rough shifting. Burning smells or loud noises can be a sign of a bad transmission as well.

    If you’re in a vehicle with an automatic transmission, watch the gear indicator to see if it’s behaving how it should. If you’re using a manual transmission, cycle through the gears and manipulate the clutch to make sure everything is engaging properly.

    Yes, extended auto warranties should cover your transmission as long as you have powertrain coverage. If you have a more limited or specialty policy, it might not be covered, though.
    No, car insurance usually doesn’t cover fixing a transmission. Car insurance only covers damage from things like accidents or vandalism, so unless your transmission is broken due to a wreck or an act of God, the cost of fixing your transmission will likely not be covered.

    Bottom line

    A transmission is one of the most expensive parts to fix on most vehicles, and whether you need minor repairs, a rebuilt transmission or a full replacement can only be decided by a mechanic. If you have the option to choose, it’s usually better to go with a repair since it’s much cheaper, but it’s important to also consider the long-term impact of your decision.

    • If you have a junker, repairing the transmission may not be worth it.
    • If you have a newer vehicle with relatively low mileage, even an expensive transmission replacement can be a good long-term investment.

    If you’re still unsure, shop around and get itemized quotes from a few local mechanics to compare your options and make a smart choice.

    ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. To learn more about the content on our site, visit our FAQ page.
    1. Universal Technical Institute (UTI), “What Is A Transmission and How Does It Work?” Accessed August 20, 2021.
    2. AAMCO, “Top 10 Reasons For Transmission Problems.” Accessed August 20, 2021.
    3. American Transmission and Foreign Service, “Should You Repair, Rebuild, or Replace Your Car's Transmission?” Accessed August 20, 2021.
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    Profile picture of Danni White
    by Danni White ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Danni White is committed to providing valuable resources designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions. Danni specializes in content strategy and development, with over a decade of professional writing and research experience.