The lifespan of a transmission can vary greatly depending on several factors, including the make and model of the vehicle, driving habits, maintenance routines, and whether it’s manual or automatic.
On average, a transmission should last between 100,000 to 200,000 miles, or approximately 7 to 10 years for most drivers. However, with excellent care and regular maintenance, some transmissions can last over 300,000 miles.
It’s important to remember that these are just averages and that a transmission can fail sooner or last longer based on the factors mentioned above. Regular check-ups and proper care can significantly extend the life of a vehicle’s transmission.
The question is, how do you know when you’re transmission is failing? And what are your options? Here are some of the top signs that your vehicle might need a transmission rebuild.
1. Check Engine Light
The check engine light that brightens up your dashboard plays a far more critical role than merely alerting you to engine complications. It serves as a comprehensive warning system for a range of potential issues throughout your vehicle. In this intricate network, the engine acts as the heart, maintaining a close relationship with all other components, including your transmission.
When the check engine light comes on, it’s the vehicle’s onboard computer system alerting you to a potential problem that it has detected through its network of sensors throughout the car. This problem could be as minor as a loose gas cap or as major as a failing transmission. Therefore, the light could potentially indicate an issue with the maintenance of the transmission.
If the light does relate to your transmission, it could be due to a number of issues, including low transmission fluid levels, a problem with the solenoid, or there might be a sensor malfunction. Any of these problems could lead to more severe transmission damage if not addressed promptly.
2. Strange Noises
As the primary driver of your vehicle, you are the one most intimately familiar with its sounds and behaviours. If you begin to notice unusual noises originating from your vehicle’s undercarriage or hear odd sounds during gear shifts, these could be indications of a problem with your transmission.
These strange sounds might include a high-pitched whining or buzzing, clunking, humming, or even a grinding noise. During gear shifts, you might hear a distinct clunk or feel a jarring shift, which could also be indicative of transmission trouble.
These noises are your vehicle’s way of signalling that something isn’t functioning correctly. It could be as simple as needing new transmission fluid, a task that is relatively straightforward and inexpensive. On the other hand, it might be a sign of a more serious problem. Regardless of the cause, it’s essential to have your vehicle inspected by a professional as soon as possible when you notice these signs.
3. Stuck in Gear
Experiencing difficulty or an outright inability to shift gears in your vehicle can be a telltale sign of a transmission issue. If your car seems stuck in a particular gear and refuses to shift, this is known as being “stuck in gear” and is a clear signal of a potential transmission problem. However, the problem might not always lie with the transmission itself, particularly if you’re driving a manual vehicle.
In the case of manual transmissions, the issue could be with a worn-out clutch. The clutch is a crucial component that disengages the transmission from the engine, allowing you to switch gears. Over time, the clutch plate can wear down, making gear changes difficult or even impossible. If you’re finding it hard to shift gears, and you notice other signs like a burning smell or a clutch pedal that feels loose or spongy, it’s likely your clutch that needs to be replaced, not the entire transmission.
On the other hand, if you’re driving an automatic transmission and experience issues with gear changes, the problem is most likely within the transmission itself. This could be due to a variety of issues, such as a failing shift solenoid, a worn-out transmission band, or problems with the transmission fluid. If your automatic transmission gets stuck in gear and refuses to shift, take your vehicle to our repair shop as soon as possible.
4. Leaking Transmission Fluid
Noticing a reddish fluid on the ground beneath your vehicle can be a cause for concern. This is often a clear indication of a transmission fluid leak, which should not be ignored. Transmission fluid is usually slick in texture and has a slightly sweet smell. It’s distinct from other vehicle fluids, such as motor oil, which is usually amber or dark brown and has a more oily smell.
A transmission operating without adequate fluid is dangerous. The fluid ensures that the transmission’s moving parts don’t overheat and remain well-lubricated to prevent wear and tear. If these parts are not properly lubricated, they can wear out rapidly, leading to significant damage and potentially costly repairs.
5. A Delay in Shifting Gears
In an automatic transmission, the system is designed to shift gears seamlessly as you accelerate. This is accomplished through a complex system of hydraulic pressure and electronic controls, which work together to ensure the right gear is engaged at the right time. When you press down on the accelerator, the transmission should respond by smoothly shifting up to a higher gear, enabling you to increase your speed.
However, if you notice a delay during this process, it could indicate an issue with your automatic transmission. In some cases, these delays in gear shifting can be accompanied by noticeable jerks, jolts, or clunking sounds when the vehicle does eventually shift into the next gear. These symptoms often indicate that the transmission isn’t engaging or disengaging the gears correctly, which can be due to a variety of issues, including low or dirty transmission fluid, a failing shift solenoid, or even more serious internal damage.
FAQs About Transmission Rebuilds
How much does a transmission rebuild cost?
The cost to rebuild a transmission can vary widely depending on the make and model of the vehicle and the extent of the damage. You can request a quote here.
Is it better to rebuild a transmission or get a new one?
Whether it’s better to rebuild a transmission or replace it with a new one depends on several factors, including the specific issues with the current transmission, the cost, and the age and overall condition of the vehicle.
A transmission rebuild is typically more cost-effective, while a complete transmission replacement may mean a longer lifespan. However, a new transmission is typically more expensive and may not be necessary if the issues in your current transmission are relatively minor or localized.
How long will a transmission rebuild last?
A rebuilt transmission can last for a long time, often as long as a new one. The lifespan of a rebuilt transmission can vary based on several factors, including the quality of the rebuild, the driving conditions, and how well the transmission is maintained after the rebuild.
If a transmission is properly rebuilt by a skilled mechanic, it can often last between 100,000 to 200,000 miles or even more. The key to a long-lasting rebuilt transmission is addressing all the existing problems during the rebuild, using high-quality parts, and ensuring everything is assembled correctly.
Can you trust a transmission rebuild?
Absolutely, you can trust a transmission rebuild, provided it’s done by a reputable, skilled mechanic or transmission specialist. A properly rebuilt transmission can perform just as well as a new one and can significantly extend the lifespan of your vehicle.
If your transmission is indeed failing, it will either need a comprehensive repair, a transmission rebuild, or in some cases, a complete replacement. For residents of Edmonton and surrounding areas, Dot Transmissions comes highly recommended.
With our team of expert technicians, we specialize in diagnosing and repairing transmission issues, ensuring your vehicle is quickly and efficiently returned to optimal performance. Your vehicle’s longevity is our priority, so trust Dot Transmissions for all your transmission needs.