TEXAS DRIVETRAIN
PERFORMANCE
TEXAS DRIVETRAIN
PERFORMANCE

How much does it Cost to Rebuild a Manual Transmission?

Manual Transmission Price Guide

When it comes to vehicles, there’s no component more essential and complex than a transmission. Automatic transmissions have become the go-to for drivers today. However, it is the manual transmission that has forever won the hearts and lead feet of drivers and enthusiasts. But, what is the cost to rebuild a manual transmission?

In this article, we cover everything there is to know about standard transmissions costs. We will review when repair might be a better option, and whether or not you should consider going the DIY route.

But first, let’s go over some basics that will help you better understand what’s involved in the bill from the mechanic…

manual transmission rebuild internals

Difference Between a Manual Transmission Rebuild and Repair?

What is a Manual Transmission Rebuild?

The process of rebuilding a transmission is an extensive one. It involves a multitude of specialized parts, tools, and hours of work. In a nutshell, a manual transmission rebuild involves removing the failing transmission. After that, a thorough inspection is conducted. Next up is cleaning and swapping out any ‘hard’ parts. Finally, reassembling begins along with its ‘soft parts’ such as gaskets, bands, seals, and clutches.

What is a Manual Transmission Repair?

As the name aptly implies, repair of a standard transmission focuses on repairing and swapping individual failing or broken parts. It does not include the replacement of all ‘hard’ parts, just those which are currently broken.

Cost to Rebuild a Manual Transmission

The cost of a transmission rebuild can vary greatly. The type and extent of the repairs or rebuild is the most important part when it comes to costs. However, there are several other aspects that factor into play.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the things that impact what you can expect to pay. The final bill typically ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

How much does it Cost to Rebuild a Manual Transmission? - Texas Drivetrain Performance

Factors that Affect the Cost of a Manual Transmission Rebuild 

  1. Vehicle Make and Model
Mechanics don’t inherently discriminate against one make or another (although they do have preferences). That said, some makes and models are easier to work on than others, requiring fewer billable hours. Similarly, the cost of parts for domestic manufactures such as Chevy, Ford, Chrysler, and GM are cheaper than those of imported vehicles. One other factor is the category of vehicles. Sports cars and luxury vehicles translate to higher repair and/or replacement costs for rebuilt transmissions. Expect to pay more for a Mercedes or BMW than you would a Ford Fusion.
  1. The Extent of Necessary Repairs or Replaced Parts
Whether it’s a repair or a rebuild, the extent of the current transmission’s wear and damage can play a big role. In both cases, the replacement of some parts will be non-negotiable and necessary for the safe operation of the vehicle. Other components may show little wear, but should also be replaced in order to save you money later on.
  1. The Age of the Vehicle
In some ways, the age of a vehicle can pose challenges for technicians. First, finding the correct parts for an older make and model can be difficult. This can increase the cost due to time spent allocating the necessary parts or, in rarer cases, having them machined specifically for your rebuild. Interestingly, some newer vehicles that have a standard transmission can present unique difficulties. The tools, skill, and hours it takes to disassemble, rebuild the transmission and put everything together again increases costs.
  1. The Shop / Mechanic You Choose
Mechanics and auto shops all use a standardized price schedule for automotive repairs and manual transmission rebuilds. In other words, they’ve calculated, on average, how long each rebuild will take for any skilled and experienced auto technician to accomplish. Labor costs, plus parts, equals the total of your bill. Some automotive shops, charge different rates for labor. That’s what will make up the biggest difference in your bill. Going with the cheapest option isn’t the best, but that doesn’t mean you have to cash out your 401IK either. Look for Mechanics who:
  • Are certified/licensed
  • Fully insured
  • Offer a guarantee
  • Have a track record of happy customers
  • Have great
  • Experience working on the type of vehicle you’ve brought in (some makes and models may need additional specialized knowledge and/or training)
  • Can provide a detailed quote
  1. How Fast You Need the Job Done
Most car shops work on a ‘first come, first served basis’. That doesn’t mean they don’t offer ‘emergency’ transmission rebuilds for those who have to get back on the road FAST. Expedited service comes at a premium due to:
  • Additional/overtime labor hours needed to fit your transmission rebuild into the schedule
  • Expedited shipping of any necessary parts not in stock or that must be special ordered
  1. Location
Turns out, where you live impacts the price of transmission rebuilds. Generally speaking, areas with an overall higher cost of living tend to cost more for car repairs and rebuilds. Similarly, a lack of skilled technicians in the area might make those operating in that area in constant demand. This allows them to charge a premium for their business.

The Average Cost to Rebuild a Manual Transmission

Replacing or reconstructing a standard transmission is one of the most expensive services performed by auto technicians and for good reason. It’s a complex, nuanced, and time-heavy endeavor requiring specialized tools, a multitude of parts, and expertise.

Cost of replacing a transmission:
  • Thedrive.com reports that the average cost to rebuild a transmission ranges from between $2,800 to $3800. A new transmission can cost between $4,000-$8000.
  • Cars.com reports that manual transmission replacement can be significantly cheaper, ranging between $1500-$3000 for ‘non-luxury vehicles’.
  • Transmission Repair Cost Guide places the average cost of replacement from between $1800-$3400. The cost of buying a used/salvaged transmission can range between $800-$1500.
  • Cost of Labor: Between 4-12 hours, or $500-$1200 total
Cost to rebuild a manual transmission:

Turns out, average data on rebuilding costs is more difficult to find. It’s why you’re reading our guide in the first place.

The reason we broke down the prices in detail for ‘replacing’ a transmission is because the costs to rebuild one are similar. Of course, this depends on the extent of the damage and what needs to be ‘rebuilt’.

On the flip side, a basic repair could run you between $300-$1200. In many cases, what appears to be a failing transmission might be a failing clutch. A new clutch runs between $500-$700 in labor costs and the rest in parts. Coming to a total of around $1,229 to $1,419 on average in the USA.

Bear in mind some cars will fall on the lower end of that average, costing as little as $800.

Rebuilding a Manual Transmission: Why is it so Expensive?

With the advent of gear ratios, transmissions can lower rotational output, increasing the torque delivered to the wheels. Both the complexity of transmissions, and the daily abuse they withstand, make them susceptible to wear and tear.

Understanding how a transmission is reconstructed can help you better understand, and appreciate (or at least justify) the price tag.

The Process: Start with a Transmission Evaluation

As the technician disassembles the transmission, he/she is constantly conducting a diagnostic evaluation of the parts, eventually discovering the cause of the malfunction.

However, even before a ‘rebuild’ can commence, a good tech will check for three common things:

  1. Transmission Fluid and filter: a simple fix that usually costs less than $300.
  2. Diagnostic Code Check: The vehicle’s computer system (via sensors) might give insight into what is wrong with the vehicle.
  3. Test Drive and Inspection: A test drive and inspection can yield a wealth of information. This enables the technician to give a better diagnosis before beginning any work.
How much does it Cost to Rebuild a Manual Transmission? - Texas Drivetrain Performance

NEED HELP WITH YOUR TRANSMISSION?

How a Manual Transmission is Rebuilt

This step calls meticulous attention to detail to keep similar-looking parts well organized. Many makes and models call for the removal of the entire engine block in order to gain access to the transmission. Removal of the torque converter is also needed, as is the transmission oil pan.

Transmissions can be finicky, requiring an area free from dust and particulates in the air. Draining and safe disposal of transmission fluid is also a must. During this step, each part of the disassembled transmission should be labeled to aid with issue-free reassembly.

Transmissions can be finicky, requiring an area free from dust and particulates in the air. Draining and safe disposal of transmission fluid is also a must. During this step, each part of the disassembled transmission should be labeled to aid with issue-free reassembly.

Once all the parts have come in, the transmission is reassembled in the reverse order it was disassembled. The transmission and engine block is then returned to the vehicle. Quality assurance tests such as pressure tests and a full inspection are completed and the job is finished.

manual transmission rebuild internals

How to Save Money When Rebuilding a Manual Transmission

No one likes paying more than they have to for anything. Let’s go over a few ways that can save you big when redoing a standard transmission. Keep in mind some of these come with added work and some downsides to consider as a trade-off.

You don’t want to hire the most expensive mechanic, but you also might not want to hire a hobby car technician either. No offense to those folk, but licensed experts have insurance if something goes wrong with your vehicle or if they get injured. They complete work to a professional standard, often have certifications and training under their belt, and typically offer warranties or guarantees on their work.

Are you good with a wrench? Have a boatload of automobile tools and know your way around an engine? Enjoy a challenge or need a new project to occupy your downtime? This could be an option.

It’s not as easy as changing the oil, but with some studying, video instruction, and the right tools, it’s doable, just not always recommended. Improperly identifying damaged parts, improper installation, risk of injury, and invalidating your warranty, are all risks that you’ll have to weigh.

You’ll also probably need to incur the cost of a transmission rebuild kit. These kits are equipped with all the tools you’d need to complete the process effectively.

Sometimes swapping out just the absolutely necessary parts can save you on the final bill. Oftentimes, this is only a temporary fix.

These transmissions are already pre-built, potentially saving on job costs. However, availability for your make and model might be scarce.

This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many of us forget that our warranty might still be valid. If your powertrain is still under warranty, then you might be able to have the costs of parts and labor covered. Note that warranties can range greatly between manufacturers.

PRO TIP: Failure to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and/or failing to use a licensed auto expert can void your warranty. For example, parts prone to wear, like boots, CV joints, and clutches are expected to be replaced at regular intervals.

Identifying a Manual Transmission Problem

Are you sure you even need a rebuild?

Identifying the signs of a standard transmission going bad can help you plan ahead for expenses. This can potentially save your car from further damage, resulting in a lower bill for repair work.

Signs Your Manual Transmission is Failing:
  • Gears are slipping when driving
  • Your gearbox pops back to neutral when driving
  • You notice humming, grinding, or clunking noises (more notable in neutral)
  • You smell the aroma of burned fluid
  • The clutch is staying in gear, causing grinding noises when you’re shifting (dragging clutch)
  • Instead of a smooth shift, you notice a thumping or grinding when transitioning between gears
  • There is a noticeable lag between gear changes
  • You notice higher than usual RPMs for a specific gear or speed

Find the Right Transmission Repair Shop 

Transmissions are a complex and critical component of your vehicle. This makes hiring the right auto shop a mission-critical task. You wouldn’t go to a general doctor for heart surgery, would you? Similarly, you want an auto shop that specializes in all things’ drivetrain.

Texas Drivetrain Performance is a ‘one-stop shop’ for standard, differential, machining, and installation services. We specialize in drivetrains and transmissions. From routine rebuilds and installations to complex repairs and custom requests we have got you covered!

Reach out today and connect with a team motivated to make sure your ride performs at maximum efficiency and power.