Rebuilt vs Remanufactured Transmissions & Other Options

So your transmission has failed and you’ve decided (or are coming to the conclusion) that the best course of action is to either have it rebuilt or replace it with a remanufactured transmission.

The following is a comparison of the difference in warranties, procedures, quality, and cost between the two most popular methods of fixing a vehicle with a transmission problem.

Rebuild vs. Reman Summary

 RebuiltRemanufactured
Warranty12-month/12,000 mile3-year/unlimited mile
ProcedureBroken & worn out parts replaced Broken & worn out parts replaced + updates from manufacturer
Turnaround Time3-5 days1-2 days + shipping time
Qualityvaries depending on shop (can be higher or lower)consistent
Cost$1500 to $3000$2000 to $3500

Warranty

Rebuilt

A rebuilt transmission is typically covered by a 12-month/12,000 mile warranty (whichever comes first). This is a very basic warranty, but it will pay for repairs, should there be any defective parts in the transmission or torque converter. However, you’re often limited to which shops can perform the repairs. And labor charges may or may not be covered, so be sure to read the fine print.

We know a good transmission shop in your area.

Remanufactured

A quality remanufactured transmission will often come with a 3-year/unlimited mile warranty. Because of the scope of the remanufacturing process, a longer warranty can be offered.

Many companies also provide nationwide coverage, which allows you to go to the shop of your choice, regardless of what state you happen to be in when your transmission fails. The warranty is also typically transferrable, should you ever decide to sell the vehicle. Longer warranties are often available for an additional charge.

Refurbishing Procedure

Rebuilt

Also called refurbishing, overhauling or reconditioning, the rebuilding process involves disassembling, inspecting, cleaning and replacing damaged or worn parts in a shop setting.

To rebuild a transmission, a technician will remove it from the vehicle, take it apart and inspect all of the key components.Any parts that are still inside the manufacturer’s acceptable wear limits are reused, and anything that’s too worn will be replaced.

All of the “soft parts” like gaskets, seals, bands and o-rings are replaced. And finally, the whole thing is put back together and reinstalled in the car. The quality of components used in a rebuild may not be ideal at a less-than-reputable shop.

Remanufactured

Remanufacturing a transmission involves completely restoring a gearbox back to factory standards in a factory setting – making it as close to new as possible.

In some cases, the transmission is upgraded to include “bug fixes” and factory updates from the manufacturer such as modifications to the valve body as well as more durable parts (eg. higher quality friction material) to address common weak points of the transmission. This ensures that the transmission is as up-to-date as possible with the design and components used in brand new transmissions.

The process starts by disassembling a core (a broken/used transmission), then cleaning and inspecting all of the parts (crankshaft, camshaft and rods, head & block castings, etc.) and checking them against original equipment specifications.

All of the components that are identified as being out of specification (too worn out or damaged), are replaced with new parts or parts that have been requalified to meet very specific tolerances and standards.

The valve body is then tested and remanufactured back to original specification. Metal surfaces are measured and machined to the correct dimensional tolerances. All of the electronic components are tested, then new solenoids and other electrical parts are installed.
After machining and painting the case, the transmission is reassembled on an assembly line, quality checked, then hot/cold tested on a dynamometer or “dyno” prior machine prior to shipment. A dyno is a device that measures torque, power, RPMs and line pressure to make sure the transmission meets specifications and works properly.

Turnaround Time

Rebuilding a transmission takes time. The transmission must be removed, disassembled, parts purchased, reassembled, and installed back in the vehicle which can take 3 to5 days.

A remanufactured transmission on the other hand, is already complete, and shipped directly from the factory. Depending on the time it takes to be ordered, shipped and delivered, and the installer’s schedule, the job of actually installing a remanufactured transmission should take about 1 to 2 days.

Quality

When it comes down to it, both options are a re-created or “refurbished” transmission made up of a mix of new and old parts. The difference is, all of the key components in a reman transmission are new, and the dyno testing helps prevent problems from even leaving the factory.

Cost

Rebuilt – $1500 to $3000

The customer is given an estimated price range before the transmission is removed & disassembled.

When having your transmission rebuilt, the repair shop should give you a price range based on their initial diagnosis. An accurate price cannot be determined until the transmission has been taken apart and properly diagnosed. The extent of the internal damage will determine where in the range the final cost will be.

An exact price given over the phone or email before the shop has inspected the transmission is a red flag. There is no way to know exactly how much labor and replacement parts will be needed to get your transmission back on the road.

Remanufactured – $2000 to $3500

The customer is quoted a fixed price for the transmission.

When you buy a remanufactured transmission you pay one price, and all of the internal components are Original Equipment (OE) spec or better. There are no surprise charges because the transmission has already been completely refurbished and tested at the factory.

The installation cost of the remanufactured transmission is in addition to the cost of the transmission. The labor cost to remove your transmission and install the reman typically ranges from $400 to $800 and it should take them about 1-3 days to install it and get you back on the road.

In most cases, it is more expensive to buy a remanufactured transmission and pay a shop to install it than it is to have the transmission rebuilt. However, if the transmission has serious internal damage, the additional time and parts required to rebuild it can cause the final cost to be higher than a remanufactured unit.

Need Your Transmission Repaired? A good repair shop can be hard to find – especially on short notice. We’ll have the Cost Guide Certified shop in your area give you a call with a free estimate.
Transmission ModelYearMakeModelEngEst. Labor HoursCost @ $85/HourRetail Rebuild RangeRetail Reman Range
4T40E / 4T45E2010ChevyMalibu2.4L75951620 - 22101965 - 2305
4L60E / 4L65E2007ChevySilverado 15004.8L86801580 - 23202085 - 2510
4T60E / 4T65E2004ChevyMalibu3.5L75951790 - 23702085 - 2535
4L80E / 4L85E2003ChevySilverado 25006.0L65102150 - 30102390 - 3350
5L40E2008CadillacSRX3.6L131,1052830 - 39604365 - 5005
6T70E / 6T75E2007GMCAcadia3.6L97652310 - 33703005 - 3675
6L80 / 6L902010ChevyExpress 25004.8L65102460 - 34502950 - 3680
Allison 10002004GMC2500 HD6.0L65102860 - 37503090 - 3930
4F27E2006FordFocus2.0L86801320 - 19102130 - 2560
AX4N / AX4S2003FordTaurus3.0L108501540 - 22102420 - 2890
4R70W / 4R75E2010FordF1504.6L54251570 - 22602015 - 2495
4R100 / E4OD2004FordF3505.4L54251890 - 27202195 - 2735
4R44E / 4R55E2000FordRanger3.0L97651920 - 27702545 - 3135
5R55S / 5R55W /N/E2008FordExplorer4.0L75951930 - 27802385 - 2915
CD4E2008FordEscape2.3L141,1901940 - 28003000 - 3530
FNR5 / AWTF-802008Mazda62.3L75952090 - 30102475 - 3035
AWF212009MercuryMilan3.0L65102250 - 32402790 - 3470
5R110W2010FordF2506.4L86802690 - 38203070 - 3790
6F35 / 6F502011FordEdge3.7L65103120 - 39102920 - 3720
6R602008FordExplorer4.6L86802720 - 38803560 - 4400
6R802011FordF1506.2L86802840 - 39803560 - 4400
41TE / A6042008DodgeGrand Caravan3.3L75951570 - 22672185 - 2665
42RE / A5002001JeepGrand Cherokee4.0L65101680 - 24202050 - 2650
46RE / A5182001DodgeRam 15005.9L86801820 - 26232410 - 2920
47RE / A6182002DodgeRam 35005.9L86802230 - 33622800 - 3530
48RE2006DodgeRam 35005.9L65102540 - 36683050 - 3680
42RLE2008DodgeCharger3.5L65101930 - 27762200 - 2830
545RFE2005DodgeRam 25005.7L86802070 - 29802550 - 3120
62TE2008ChryslerTown&Country3.8L75952580 - 37192865 - 3545
65RFE / 66RFE / 68RFE2008DodgeRam 25006.7L86803260 - 44804100 - 4890
W5A380 / NAG12006Chrysler3003.5L65102230 - 32103060 - 3830
Honda BYBA2006HondaOdyssey3.5L108502443 - 35102990 - 3630
Toyota A750E2008ToyotaTundra4.7L97652320 - 33303335 - 4105
Toyota U140F2007ToyotaRAV42.4L86802240 - 32303140 - 3870
RE4R01A2003NissanXterra3.3L97652248 - 32302905 - 3545
RE5R05A2005NissanPathfinder4.0L121,0202950 - 47103900 - 4840
722.6 / 722.92006DodgeSprinter 25002.7L65102230 - 32103060 - 3830
AW55-50SN2005NissanMaxima3.5L75952690 - 38703035 - 3775
F4A42-22001HyundaiSante Fe2.4L121,0202210 - 31803030 - 3630
ZF 5HP242001AudiA64.2L119352710 - 38904165 - 5125
ZF 6HP262005BMW745li4.4L86802790 - 40204400 - 5520

Other Repair & Replacement Options

– “New” Transmissions

If you go to your local dealership and ask for a new transmission, you’ll actually be getting a remanufactured transmission. Car manufacturers don’t build parts for sale to the general public. Every transmission that comes off the production line, goes into a car. When a dealer needs to replace one under warranty, they’re sent one from a factory authorized remanufacturer. So that “new” transmission, isn’t actually new at all.

– Used Transmissions

When you buy a used transmission from a junk yard, you could be buying somebody else’s problems. Salvage yards aren’t equipped to perform a sufficient mechanical inspection. They simply remove the transmission from a junk car, then sell it to you.

There’s no way to know how long a used transmission will last. And that 30-day junk yard warranty only means that they’ll give you another “gently used” transmission, if the one you just bought dies. The labor charges to put it in, will come out of your pocket.

All that said, this is the most affordable way to get your car back on the road.

– Repaired Transmissions

Getting a transmission repaired typically involves fixing or replacing a specific component which requires much less time and effort than a rebuild or replacement. For example, a failed solenoid, transmission leak or broken input shaft can be repaired without having to take the entire transmission apart. The goal is to keep costs down by doing the minimum required to make the transmission work again.

It’s important to note (especially for older, higher mileage transmissions) that only the component that was replaced is covered under warranty – not the entire transmission. This can be an issue if you spend a significant amount of money on the repair and an unrelated problem later causes your transmission to fail, rendering the initial repair worthless.
Repairs are cost effective, but it may not be an option if the transmission’s problem has caused significant internal damage, but minor repairs are all that’s needed to fix many transmission issues and trouble codes.

Keep in mind that every option may not be practical for your situation. A lot depends on the type of car you have, the mileage, the type of failure, and so on. A Cost Guide Certified Shop will be happy to diagnose your car’s problem, and discuss the transmission repair options that are available to you.

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Over to You

Which option are you leaning towards and why? Have we missed any differences between rebuilt and remanufactured transmissions? Leave a comment and let us know!

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One thought on “Rebuilt vs Remanufactured Transmissions & Other Options

  1. I need a new transmission for my car, and I think I’ll be going with a rebuilt transmission. My car won’t be lasting too much longer, so I don’t need too long of a warranty. I think the rebuild is the better option anyway since you’ll likely get it from your mechanic and they can tweak it for you.

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