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Automatic transmissions have always been impressively ingenious, even, or maybe especially, the earliest versions, some of which date back to the early 20th century.

What percentage of drivers really understand what a transmission is and how it functions? It’s likely that most understand the transmission is responsible for shifting gears. Without it, every vehicle would be stuck with only one gear. But that’s probably the depth of the average driver’s understanding.

Which isn’t surprising, as even a manual transmission, the simplest form of transmission in today’s vehicles, has hundreds and hundreds of components.

We could discuss all that – how the transmission changes gears to ensure optimal torque depending on speed and acceleration, or the various types of gears and how they relate to the output shaft and its revolutions based on the gear selected – but that is likely to put you to sleep.

As far as most drivers are concerned, all they really care about is whether or not their vehicle can function properly, and if your transmission isn’t operating correctly that’s obviously not going to happen.

It’s not uncommon for vehicle owners to suffer a bit of sticker shock at the price of automatic transmission repairs, in large part due to their unfamiliarity with this integral system.

Some average costs, are as follows:

Basic (What the Industry Considers “Minor”) Repairs: $500 – $1,500

Complete Replacement: $1,800 – $3,500

Transmission Rebuild: $1,500 – $2,500

Remanufactured Transmission: $2,500 – $3,5001

Salvaged Transmission: $800 – $1,5001

While still an expensive purchase, the cost of a remanufactured or salvage transmission is a much easier pill to swallow for most vehicle owners.

So Why Are Automatic Transmission Repairs So Expensive?

In addition to the sheer complexity and number of parts in transmissions, modern automatic transmissions are heavily reliant on computer systems and cutting-edge electronics to do all that automatic gear shifting.

That makes transmission work inherently specialized and time consuming, with many shops not even capable of performing what would be considered rudimentary repairs due to a lack of the required specialized knowledge, diagnostics and tools.


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