If you've been unlucky to face automatic transmission troubles in the past, then you know that repairing one is rarely a cheap endeavor. Most shops will recommend a complete rebuild if they suspect internal transmission issues, often for good cause. Understanding why this repair service is so expensive and time-consuming requires understanding a little about the design of your car's transmission.
Coming to Terms With Transmission Complexity
Many modern automotive components are surprisingly simple when you deconstruct them. Although engines and the many parts that support them have become more and more sophisticated over time, they still rely on core principles that are relatively easy to understand. Unfortunately, this is not the case for automatic transmissions.
Even simple transmissions from vehicles that are decades old can be incredibly complex. Automatic transmissions contain hundreds of parts, with more modern transmissions stretching that figure into the four-digit range. Gear sets, springs, clutch packs, bands, valves, and more must work in perfect concert to transmit power to your wheels while providing smooth, consistent shifts.
And if their internal complexity wasn't enough, technicians cannot even access these components without removing the transmission from the vehicle and disassembling the casing. Determining the exact cause of a failure can often be incredibly challenging because many individual parts may be faulty.
Understanding the Repair Process
Since accessing nearly any component requires disassembling the entire transmission, most repairs involve full or partial rebuilds. During this process, technicians use a kit to replace common failure or wear points in the transmission. Additionally, the shop will thoroughly clean and examine the parts they reuse to ensure they function correctly.
Surprisingly, transmission rebuild kits are relatively inexpensive compared to the overall cost of the job. Instead, much of the price you will pay for this expensive repair comes from labor costs. Depending on the type of vehicle you drive, it can take even highly skilled technicians several days to fully disassemble, clean, inspect, and reassemble your transmission.
Ultimately, this "shotgun" repair approach is still much better than the alternative. Since the labor costs make up the bulk of the job, it's critical to ensure that your transmission functions as it did from the factory once the work is complete. Using a complete kit allows the transmission shop to repair your original problem, refresh wear components, and even perform some upgrades all in one operation.
Although transmission repairs tend to be pricey, they can give your vehicle a new lease on life. Transmission repairs will not only fix the current fault but also ensure a long life in the future.