Aside from having an accident, the requirement of a major transmission repair or replacement is about the worst news you can get as a car owner. You can limp along without your car’s heating or air conditioning system for a period of time, but a transmission problem means your vehicle is dead in the water until it gets repaired.
It’s difficult to be specific about the cost of repairing or replacing a transmission because of a vehicle’s many variables, including year, make and model. But regardless, any transmission repair is expensive.
With a major transmission failure, there’s really no inexpensive way out. You’ve essentially got two options: Rebuild the transmission you have or replace it with a new or, most likely, remanufactured transmission.
Either option is nearly identical in price because so much goes into the rebuilding process. For example, say your vehicle suddenly won’t shift into reverse any longer. In some automatic transmissions, that problem can be traced to a crack in the clutch housing, a drum that holds the clutch pack in place.
To determine that problem, a technician would have to remove the transmission, split the case and partially disassemble the inner workings of the transmission. By that point, before any real work has even begun, you’re looking at hours worth of labor at the shop rate. And that’s before the rebuilding process even begins.
When common transmission problems like this arise, the more cost-effective route can be to simply swap out the problematic transmission and replace it with one that’s been factory rebuilt already. That way, the labor cost is kept lower by removing the transmission and replacing it with another one, rather than rebuilding the entire transmission, along with the labor cost to remove and replace it.
Either way, a transmission rebuild or replacement is expensive. A search at mopar.com reveals that a factory-new transmission for a 2017 Chrysler 300 lists for $5,994. Of course, you can spend less than that on a remanufactured unit, but it will easily cost you in the $3,000 range before you factor in the labor to replace it.
That’s a position you don’t want to find yourself in. There are preventative maintenance steps that you can take to help avoid a major transmission failure. The best advice is to follow the service schedule that appears in your owner’s manual and replace and/or flush the transmission fluid if required. Still, many transmissions in modern vehicles are “lubed for life,” and require no fluid or filter replacement at all.
Beyond that, paying a monthly fee for a factory-backed service contract can be a major cost savings when compared to the four-figure cost of a major transmission repair. A factory-backed service plan will not only help you avoid the expense of a major transmission failure, but it will help you avoid the cost of any component failure, from bumper-to-bumper, and replace those parts with original equipment — straight from your vehicle’s manufacturer.