Rebuild or Replace: How Long Does It Take to Rebuild a Transmission?

If you own an old car, you’ll know that multiple components will give up on you regularly, including the transmission system. Transmission overhaul and transmission rebuild is something every owner of older cars deals with.

So, how long does it take to rebuild a transmission?

The time may vary if you are doing it yourself while a professional mechanic can get it done in an average of 3 or 4 days.

Transmission Overhaul 101: How to Tell That Your Transmission Needs Repairs?

Transmission is an important component of a vehicle but doesn’t come with its own light. 

However, there are some signs that indicate transmission issues before you’re left stranded with a car that doesn’t move. Here they are:

The check engine light:

This light can indicate a plethora of issues including transmission problems. You must never ignore this light and must immediately visit a mechanic.

Vehicles are designed to show the light only when there is a chance of something going seriously wrong.

You must immediately get it checked to ensure there are no problems.

Fluid Leaks:

It doesn’t matter if you are driving a manual or an automatic. Your transmission requires lubrication from a fluid and its leakage can indicate a problem.

If you see brown spots on your parking space or visibly see your transmission fluid at a low level, then you should check your transmission checked.

Sluggish acceleration:

Expert drivers can generally tell if there is something wrong with their cars. If you feel as if your car is not accelerating properly, it’s probably because of transmission issues. Get it checked to save your money on the repair.


Unusual sounds, especially during shifting, indicate a problem in your transmission.

Clunking sounds, squealing, rattling, or slight humming are all signs of a faulty transmission. Getting things under control sooner can help you keep your costs low.

The Time and Cost Required to Rebuild a Transmission

The time required to rebuild a transmission depends on several factors. As stated before, an experienced mechanic can get it done in an average of 3 to 4 days.

Depending on the workload and overall complexity of the issue, it can even be completed in a single day.

In most cases, the actual transmission rebuild happens at another shop after removal from the vehicle. This can increase the overall time required to get your car ready.

Another thing you should think about is the time required to diagnose the issue. You won’t have to look for a problem in a rebuild, but if you are simply repairing the transmission, you’d need some time to understand the issue as well.

Generally, transmission rebuild can cost anywhere near $3000. The cost is not because of the components. It’s the labor that’s quite expensive.

The transmission system is among the most integral parts of an engine and requires expertise to repair. Naturally, that expertise comes at a cost.

Some people recommend rebuilding a transmission on your own while using a transmission rebuild kit.

However, it’s a huge risk because of the steep learning curve involved in rebuilding the transmission.

You should only do it if you have an idea of what to do. Otherwise, you’ll be creating more problems for yourself.

Is A Transmission Rebuild Worth It?

It all depends on the issue. Small things like leaking fluids faint sounds will only need repairs. However, it’s more economical to go for a rebuild or a replacement for bigger issues.

Transmission systems have numerous bearings, seals, and other components that work together to move your car. Sometimes, multiple things fail together, and that requires a complete overhaul.

One thing you must consider while selecting whether to rebuild or replace your transmission is the lifespan.

Rebuilt transmissions have shorter lifespans that depend on several factors explained in the later sections.

Remanufactured transmissions, however, are different.

Is It Cheaper To Rebuild or Replace A Transmission?

Transmission replacement will cost a bit more but deliver the same longevity as a new transmission.

They all go through stringent testing and quality checks to ensure reliable performance and may even come with a warranty.

You can opt for both OEM and aftermarket transmissions for your car.

Some remanufactured transmissions also come with another excellent benefit. They can have a lot of upgrades that can address any small flaw in the original assembly.

If you are a rough driver and need performance from your car, you can also opt for such remanufactured options as they usually come with performance variants that sustain greater loads and can be used roughly.

However, all of that would increase your costs.

Another thing to note is that it can be hard or expensive to find a completely built transmission if your car is very old.

The decision to repair, rebuild or replace depends on your car model and manufacturer.

Your mechanic will give you the best advice in such cases.  

How Long Does A Rebuilt Transmission Last

Like it or not, a rebuilt transmission will never run as long as the original one.

On average, rebuilt transmissions can last around 50,000 miles, and regular maintenance along with high-quality processes during the rebuilding process can take this number to 100,000.

The actual number depends on several factors, but the most important ones are the following 4.

Rebuild quality:

Naturally, how long your rebuilt transmission will last depends on how careful you were during the process.

Transmission systems depend on several small components to work collectively.

Missing out on small details during the process can cause several problems down the road.

That’s why it’s always recommended to approach an experienced mechanic rather than doing it yourself.

Original transmission condition:

A rebuilt transmission is based on the original transmission of your car.

You may have changed the springs, seals, plates, and other components, but the system is still old. Things like small gear fragments can cause abrasions and damage if left unchecked.

So, the original condition of the transmission plays a huge role in determining how long would your system last.  


You must ensure that you are properly maintaining your transmission.

Luckily, it doesn’t require that much effort. All you need to do is to keep an eye on your transmission fluid levels and change it every 30,000 miles.

Driving style:

Heat is among the biggest productivity killers for any transmission system, and vigorous driving causes that.

The more you accelerate and decelerate frequently, the shorter your rebuilt transmission’s lifespan will be.  

Why It Is Important To Regularly Service Your Transmission

When it comes to maintaining any component of your vehicle, the best way forward is to ensure that you never delay any maintenance.

Regularly keeping an eye on fluid levels and checking out anything unusual can go a long way in ensuring that these things work perfectly.

Vehicle transmissions work just like that. They get worn down with constant use and may need repairs.

Rebuilding a transmission or repairing it requires both time and money.

Properly maintaining everything and catching potential issues early can save both ensuring that you are getting the most out of your transmission.   


Dean Alvarez, TireForge Head Author

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