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Guide to Transmission Replacements: How Much It Can Cost to Get a New Transmission

What Is the Cost of a Transmission Replacement?
Austin Kilham
Austin KilhamUpdated October 14, 2022
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
You can think of your transmission as the conduit for energy from your engine to your wheels. It’s one of the biggest and most important components of your car, and when it fails, it can be an expensive fix. “How much is a transmission replacement?” is the worried question many of us pose after one fails.Here’s a close look at what your transmission does, signs that it’s having problems, and what it may cost you to repair one.

What Does a Transmission Do? 

Your engine operates at a rotational speed of anywhere from 600 to 7,000 revolutions per minute or RPMs. Your transmission is responsible for converting the power produced by your engine into something usable to power your car. It does so by using gears to convert engine power into a force known as torque. It transfers this force to the axles of your vehicle, which then rotate the wheels and make your car move forward or backward.Without your transmission, the power your engine produces would be useless, and your car would be unable to move.Recommended: Guide to Crankshaft Repair & Replacement Costs

How Much Does a New Transmission Cost?

The transmission replacement cost will vary widely depending on what type of car you drive and whether you drive a car with a standard or automatic transmission. On average, you will likely pay anywhere from $2,000 to about $7,000 for a new transmission.The below table highlights the cost of new transmission systems for certain used vehicles, according to Powertrain Products Inc., a supplier of manual and automatic transmissions:
VehicleNew transmission cost
Ford F-150$1,999–$2,359
Chevrolet Tahoe$1,799
Nissan Sentra$3,499–$3,999
Jeep Grand Cherokee$2,999
Recommended: Suspension Repair & Replacement Cost Guide

Transmission Repair Cost

“How much does it cost to fix a transmission?” you may be wondering. Repairing a transmission is a good option if it can be brought back to working condition with minimal parts and labor, especially given the price of replacing the part.The car transmission repair cost may vary by job, but a fluid change could cost as little at $80, while replacing a solenoid shift could be as much as $400. That said, repair costs could run you as much as $1,400. The cost of new transmission systems and transmission replacement, meanwhile, can cost thousands of dollars in parts and labor.The table below highlights how much a transmission replacement may cost with certain vehicles, according to Kelley Blue Book:
VehicleTransmission replacement cost
2015 Ford F-150$5,907–$6,355
2015 Chevrolet Tahoe$5,365–$5,767
2015 Nissan Sentra$4,483–$4,823
Another table below highlights the estimated cost of specific transmission repairs or replacements, according to Auto Chimps research:
Transmission repairService cost
Fluid change$80–$250
Fluid leak repair$150–$200
Solenoid shift replacement$150–$400
Transmission rebuild$2,500–$4,500

Preventative Care Tips for Your Transmission

Here are some preventative care tips for your transmission:

Changing Transmission Fluid

Changing your transmission fluid once every 60,000 miles traveled can help keep your transmission in good shape. Auto manufacturers generally recommend changing your transmission fluid once every 30,000 to 60,000 miles if you drive a manual transmission vehicle and once every 60,000 to 100,000 miles if you drive an automatic.

Shifting Smoothly

Whether you drive an automatic or manual transmission car, you can always pay attention to whether your gears shift smoothly. A transmission that fails to shift smoothly could be a sign of trouble. Changing your transmission fluid periodically, as highlighted above, can promote the smooth shifting of your transmission system.

Not Riding the Clutch

If you drive a manual transmission vehicle, you must use your clutch to shift gears. You may rest your foot on the clutch while driving, but this practice of “riding the clutch” is not necessarily good for your vehicle’s smooth operation. Minimizing the number of times you ride the clutch may help preserve the integrity of your clutch system.Recommended: Guide to Alternator Repair & Replacement Costs

What Are Signs Your Transmission Is Going Out?

There are quite a few signs that your vehicle’s transmission is in need of repair or potentially failing. Here’s what to look out for:

Leaky Fluids

Your transmission fluid is bright red, translucent, and has a sweet smell. Transmission leaks are located near the center of the underbelly of your car. If the fluid is pink, it’s a bad sign. It’s possible that engine coolant is leaking into your transmission, which might mean it needs to be replaced.

Whiny or Clunky Noise

Be mindful of any new noises that you hear coming from your transmission, whether it’s whining, humming, or clunking. These noises may be associated with vibrations or lurching.

Vibrating and Grinding

The transitions between gears on an automatic transmission should be seamless. You shouldn’t notice any shaking, vibrating, or grinding as your car is shifting gears if your transmission is healthy.

The Vehicle Will Not Go Into Gear

It may be hard to get your car into gear if your transmission is failing. This might be most noticeable when you’re putting your car into park or reverse. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll need to replace the transmission, it may just mean your fluid is low or you’ve used the wrong type of fluid.

Popping In and Out of Gear

If your car is slipping in and out of gear, you may notice that the engine revs right before you lose power. As your engine slips out of gear, you are forced into neutral. A clunking noise may precede the engine engaging again as it slips back into gear.

Burning Smell

Burning smells coming from your car are always cause for alarm, as they can be precursors to fire. If transmission fluid is old or low, your transmission can begin to overheat, causing the smell.

Squishy Clutch Pedal

If you drive a standard vehicle with a stick shift, be conscious of changes to the feel of the clutch pedal. This may be one of the first places that you notice symptoms of a failing transmission. You may feel vibrations, for example, when you shift. Or the pedal may feel unusually soft or hard when you press it.

Check Engine Light Is On

If your automatic transmission is on the fritz, your “check engine light” will come on. Note, this light also alerts drivers to a number of other issues with their cars. Whenever it comes on, it’s important to have someone run a diagnostic to see what the problem is to help you avoid damaging any parts or alert you to replacements that are necessary.

Torque Converter

The torque converter is the coupling that transfers power between the engine and the transmission. A failing torque converter can produce many of the same symptoms as a failing transmission, including gearing slipping, shuddering, and overheating.

Solenoid Issues

Solenoids are small valves located inside your transmission. In automatic transmissions, they help ensure gears shift quickly and fully. When solenoids aren’t functioning properly, shifting may be delayed, your engine may not downshift as you brake, you may have difficulty shifting out of neutral, and gear shifts may be rough as you accelerate or decelerate.

Noisy When in Neutral

If you drive a stick and you notice that your transmission is producing humming, buzzing, or whining noises when you’re in neutral, this could be a sign that your transmission is failing. 

Reverse and/or Forward Gear Failure

If you’re having trouble getting your car in reverse or forward gear, you may be having a number of transmission-related issues. For example, an issue with your solenoids could lead to gear slippage or there could even be issues with the computer that controls your transmission. When major components of your transmission are damaged, it is common that cars only drive in reverse.Recommended: Cylinder Head Replacement Cost Guide

5 Ways to Cover Transmission Replacement Cost

Below, we highlight five ways to cover transmission replacement costs:

1. Cash Savings

You may use cash savings to pay for a transmission replacement if you have enough cash in hand or sufficient funds in your bank account. Bankrolling car maintenance services can deplete your savings, but the upside to using cash is it completes a transaction without relying on a creditor.

2. Credit Cards

Consumers may use credit cards to pay for a transmission replacement. Some credit cards may offer a rewards program that provides cardholders with at least 1% cash back on all purchases. Credit cards may carry high interest rates, but borrowers can pay off their credit card debt on a flexible timeline with minimum monthly payments or greater.

3. Taking Out a Personal Loan

Borrowers may take out a car repair personal loan to help cover transmission replacement expenses. Personal loans can provide you with a lump sum of money and payment schedule for repaying the loan. Lenders may offer secured or unsecured personal loans. Secured personal loans require collateral, whereas unsecured personal loans have no collateral requirements. Pledging an asset as collateral reduces risk to the lender and may help you get approved for a consumer lending product. Deposits in a savings account, motor vehicles, and single-family homes are among the assets that can serve as collateral on a loan.

4. Auto Loan Refinancing

Taking a vehicle in for a transmission replacement can be costly, but getting a cash out auto refinance may help you borrow money to cover such expenses. If you have sufficient equity in your car, a cash out auto refinance can replace your existing car loan with a larger-sized loan. The cash that you borrow from a cash out auto refinance may have few restrictions on how you may use the funds. Before you proceed, it’s best to gather questions to ask when refinancing your car.Refinancing your auto loan doesn’t eliminate your underlying burden of debt, but it may provide you with a lower monthly payment and lower interest rate. Refinancing for a lower monthly payment in some cases may extend your term, and extending your term can saddle you with more interest charges over the life of your loan. An auto loan refinance calculator can help you see whether a refinanced loan offering may increase or decrease your total interest costs.To qualify for auto loan refinancing, you may need to meet certain standards of creditworthiness, and your vehicle may need to meet certain standards of maintenance. If your vehicle has more than 125,000 miles on the odometer, it may be difficult to get a high mileage refinance.Before you refinance, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of refinancing. While lower interest rates can save you money, you may also be on the hook for a variety of new fees, including prepayment penalties.It may be a good time to refinance a car if your financial situation has improved or interest rates have dropped. A better credit score, higher income, or other metrics of healthy finances may spur lenders to offer you better terms and interest rates on a new loan. 

5. Consolidating Repair Debt Into Your Auto Loan

If you have car loan debt and a faulty transmission that needs to be replaced, you may consider car loan consolidation.This is a debt consolidation method where you may borrow funds to finance your transmission replacement expenses and also to pay off your existing car loan. A borrower, for example, could take out a large personal loan to cover car maintenance expenses and also to pay off the remaining balance on a car loan.The transmission replacement cost is high, but it’s definitely not the only repair you might face over the life of your vehicle. From the cost of a new catalytic converter or head gasket repair to airbag or even engine replacement, you may find yourself needing a way to cover major expenses. Consider the following costs:If you drive a premium vehicle, luxury car maintenance costs can be particularly high. For any car driver, transmission replacement can be one of the most expensive fixes you’ll ever make on your vehicle. Keep an eye out for transmission warning signs and have them checked out by a licensed mechanic. Catch them early enough, and you may be able to get your transmission back into working order with less costly repairs.Recommended: How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Car Radiator?

3 Auto Loan Refinance Tips

  • Refinancing your auto loan could lead to lower monthly car payments and more money in your budget. Lantern by SoFi can help you find the right auto loan refinance for you.
  • Generally, the newer your car, the lower the refi interest rate. This is because younger cars typically have a higher value than old or used cars — and the car serves as collateral for the loan.
  • Lengthening the term of your auto loan can decrease your monthly payments and free up funds for other financial goals, but this would also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth replacing a transmission?
What are the signs your transmission is going out?
Is it better to fix or replace a transmission?
Why is transmission work so expensive?
Photo credit: iStock/Worayuth Kamonsuwan

About the Author

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles. He focuses on personal finance, retirement, business, and health care with an eye toward helping others understand complex topics.
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