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New, Used Or Rebuilt? How To Decide Which Transmission Replacement Option Is Right For You

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One of the worst things you can hear from your mechanic is that your car's transmission is busted — repairs and replacements are expensive and labor intensive. Thankfully, you have a few options available to your when your car needs a new transmission. You can either replace it with a new or used transmission or you can have your car's existing transmission rebuilt by a professional mechanic. To help you decide on which option is right for both your car and your wallet, here's how they compare.

Used Transmissions Are a Risky Gamble

Replacing your car's transmission with another used transmission is the least expensive option available to you. Unfortunately, it carries a number of risks that make this option a gamble. The used transmission you're buying likely came from a scrapyard. Transmissions don't have odometers, of course, so there's no way of knowing how many miles were put on the transmission. Additionally, nobody is going to open up the transmission case, disassemble the transmission and carefully inspect its condition. The final result is that the used transmission you're buying may have serious issues with wear and tear. It may only last a few months before you're back in the shop again. Since buying a used transmission is risky, it's not a good option.

New Transmissions Are Expensive and May Outlast Your Vehicle

A new transmission is most often an original equipment specification transmission — it's machined to be exactly like the transmission your car had when it rolled off of the production line. They're constructed using all-new parts and are very reliable. Installing a new transmission in your car minimizes the chance that you'll experience any more transmission-related problems.

Unfortunately, installing a new transmission is also very expensive. Installing a new transmission in an older car doesn't make financial sense — it's very likely that the transmission will outlast your car's engine. Sending a car with a year-old transmission to the scrapyard because its engine failed catastrophically is a painful thing to experience. Don't opt for a new transmission unless you plan to get at least five more years of driving out of your vehicle.

Transmission Rebuilds Provide the Perfect Medium

Hiring a professional mechanic to rebuild your transmission is a great alternative to replacement. You'll avoid the risks of a used transmission and the expense of a new one. In a transmission rebuild, a mechanic disassembles your entire transmission and inspects each part closely for wear and damage. Any parts that are damaged or likely to fail soon are replaced. Mechanics can use either new parts or used parts in good condition for a transmission rebuild. It's slightly more expensive than installing a used transmission due to the labor involved, but it's less risky than taking your chances on a used transmission.

If you've been told that your car requires a new transmission, contact a mechanic that specializes in transmission rebuilds. There's a good chance that you can keep your existing transmission by replacing any worn or damaged parts. Make sure that you ask the mechanic about any warranties they offer on their service — a quality auto shop will stand behind their work and offer a warranty on your transmission rebuild.