Rebuilt Transmission: How Long They Last & Are They Worth It

Car repairs are never fun, but they’re especially frustrating when it’s something expensive like a transmission replacement. Rebuilding the transmission is cheaper than buying a completely new one, but how long do rebuilt transmissions they last? And are they worth the money in the long run?

Rebuilt transmissions typically last for around 30,000 to 100,000 miles. The number varies depending on the quality of the rebuild, the type of car, and your driving habits. Considering that a brand-new transmission can cost upwards of $1,500, a rebuilt transmission is often a good investment.

Rebuilding a transmission means you take the old transmission apart, replace the worn-out parts with refurbished parts, and then put it back together. And it’s not a simple job — it requires special tools and knowledge. So, let’s take a closer look at what you should expect from a rebuilt transmission and whether or not it’s worth the money and effort.

How Long Does a Rebuilt Transmission Last?

Car transmission

It’s really hard to give a definitive answer to this question because there are so many variables at play. The quality of the rebuild, the quality of the parts, the maintenance routine, and even your driving habits can all affect how long your rebuilt transmission will last.

In general, a rebuilt transmission should last anywhere between 30,000 and 100,000 miles. It might last even longer if the mechanic did a good job and you take good care of it. 

Of course, that’s just the average. Some people have rebuilt transmissions that last much longer, while others see them fail pretty quickly.

The quality of the rebuild is the major factor in determining how long your rebuilt transmission lasts. If you just had a cheap shop slap it together with whatever parts they had lying around, you might start having problems pretty quickly.

So it’s extremely important to find a reputable shop with a good track record to do the work. And always ask them to source high-quality replacement parts.

How Do You Know if a Used Transmission Is Good?

Ideally, you want to find a low-mileage transmission from a newer car to use for the repair. But those can be hard to find and pretty expensive. So you might have to settle for a less-than-perfect used transmission.

Here are a few tips to help you figure out if a used transmission is any good:

  • Get it checked by a mechanic: The best way to know if a used transmission is any good is to have an expert check it out. Some mechanics will do this for free, while others will charge a small fee. But it’s worth it to pay a little money to ensure you’re getting a quality part.
  • Inspect it yourself: You can also do an inspection yourself if you’re handy with car parts. Start by checking for any obvious signs of damage, like rust, cracks, or dents.
  • Check for leaks: Any transmission that’s worth it shouldn’t have any leaks. To be sure, refill the transmission fluid to full and then check it again. If there’s a leak, you’ll be able to tell pretty easily.
  • Fluid health: The transmission fluid should be bright red and fairly clean. If it’s brown or smells burnt, that’s a sign the transmission has been overheating, which is definitely something you want to avoid.
  • Check out the source vehicle: If you’re buying a used transmission from a salvage yard, try to get some information on the source vehicle. A normal old car that’s seen a lot of mileage is one thing. But avoid transmissions from cars that have been in serious accidents or had other major damage.
  • Look at vehicle service records: If you’re buying a used transmission from an individual, ask to see the vehicle service records. This will give you some idea of how well the car was maintained. Again, minor repairs aren’t a deal-breaker, but it’s better to avoid anything major.
  • Get a warranty: Most reputable dealers will offer a warranty on their used transmissions. This is always a good idea, just in case there are any problems down the road.

Is It Worth It to Get a Rebuilt Transmission?

The biggest advantage of getting a rebuilt transmission is the cost. A new transmission can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000, and that’s not even including the labor. In contrast, a rebuilt transmission will cost you around $600 to $1,500, depending on the make and model of your car. 

You can even find a rebuilt transmission for less than that if you’re willing to do a little shopping around. Especially if you’ve got an older car, spending the money on a brand-new transmission might not make sense when a rebuilt one will do just fine.

But, as we’ve discussed, there are some risks associated with installing a rebuilt transmission. It might not last as long as a new one, and it might not be as reliable unless you have someone experienced to do the work.

On the other hand, transmission replacement is often done by the manufacturer. Contrary to common belief, they don’t put in a new transmission; instead, they replace parts as necessary and reassemble the transmission.

It’s similar to what you’d get with a rebuilt transmission. And still, they’ll probably charge you an arm and a leg for the work.

The main advantage here is that the warranty often still applies, and you have the peace of mind knowing that the work was done by a professional.

That being said, a rebuilt transmission is still a good option if you’re on a budget. Just make sure you do your research first. Read reviews and talk to people who have experience with the company or mechanic you’re hiring. And get a second opinion before making a decision.

Should You Buy a Used Car With a Rebuilt Transmission?

Car Repair Shop

Yes, it’s completely fine to buy a used car with a rebuilt transmission — as long as you do your homework. Let’s see why.

The transmission is a complex and central component of a car, so it’s understandable to have reservations about buying a used car with a rebuilt transmission. 

But looking at the bright side, a rebuilt transmission has already had any bad parts fixed or replaced. 

So, in a way, you’re getting a newer transmission than the old worn-out part that was there beforehand. Which means better reliability and longevity, right? It also means that the owner took care of the vehicle and was proactive about maintaining it.

Of course, you’ll still want to do your due diligence before purchasing. Ask the owner where they got the transmission rebuilt to get an idea of the quality of the work.

Check the vehicle history report and have a reputable mechanic inspect the car. These measures will give you a good idea of what you’re getting into.

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