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November 2021

What Goes Into a Transmission Rebuild?

transmission rebuild

Knowing what goes into a transmission rebuild is to your advantage, whether a well-trained mechanic is doing it for you or you are handling it on your own. This knowledge is crucial as you will know precisely how much the exercise will cost you as well as the entire mechanism behind it.

A vehicle’s transmission is an essential – and major – part of the vehicle’s overall function. This means that it must always be in excellent condition at all times.

However, just like any mechanical device, your transmission may start showing signs of failing, and there may be a need to rebuild the gear mechanism.

Rebuilding a transmission is a kind of transmission repair. In most transmission problems, the solution is fairly simple: replace the solenoid pack with a new one or change the transmission fluid.

However, not all transmission jobs can be done within minutes. If your vehicle’s transmission has a major problem, it may call for a rebuild.

But what exactly goes into a transmission rebuild, you ask? This is what you are about to find out.

Transmission Repairs

A transmission rebuild is only one of several types of fixing a vehicle transmission. This type of transmission repair may not be done often, but whenever it is carried out, it usually takes a lot of time due to the level of involvement it has.

Rebuilding a transmission doesn’t necessarily take care of every problem the gear mechanism has. Many issues that ail a vehicle transmission do not require in-depth repairs, as mentioned earlier.

A transmission rebuild is only necessary when no expert or professional mechanic can accurately identify the cause of the problem. If the damage is so severe, the only way out is to rebuild the transmission.

Telltale signs that you need to overhaul your transmission or rebuild it are as follows:

  1. Stepping on the accelerator pedal and hearing the unpleasant and loud noise it makes.
  2. The leaking of the transmission fluid.
  3. Noticing an odd or burning smell emanating from the vehicle engine while you are in motion.

Without these major reasons, a transmission rebuild is mostly unnecessary or uncalled for.

So, what happens if you – or the professional mechanic handling the repairs – cannot readily identify the problem causing your vehicle transmission to fail?

Transmission Rebuilds

The first thing to do is to uninstall the transmission from the body of your vehicle completely. To do this successfully, you have to remove the engine block entirely from your vehicle.

This is crucial, especially if you or the mechanic cannot readily assess the area believed to be the cause of the problem. 

The only way to gain access to such areas is to remove the transmission from the automobile. Then, replace the problematic part and install the transmission in your vehicle. But if the problem persists, the only option is a complete transmission rebuild. 

You have 2 options when you have no choice but to rebuild your transmission:

  1. Remove the transmission from your vehicle, rebuild it, and put it back in your automobile.
  2. Replace your vehicle transmission with another re-manufactured or rebuilt unit. But this option is not often the best as used transmissions’ histories are open to doubt and may end up creating myriads of new issues.

Most new transmissions are aftermarket options – with new parts – and are often rebuilt transmissions billed as new.

Transmission rebuild has to do with the complete removal and disassembling of the transmission unit. The mechanic will need to carefully inspect every component or part for damage or signs of wear.

Each part devoid of any issues is carefully cleaned using a dedicated cleaning solution or replaced with a newer component if found defective. Clutches, bands, and other parts with friction surfaces may require replacement as well as gaskets and seals.

The torque converter needs to be checked, but in most cases of a transmission rebuild, and replaced with a re-manufactured one.

The mechanic will also need to check several technical service bulletins in order to find out if the auto manufacturer that made your vehicle recommends modifications that can be used in correcting design flaws that were detected after rebuilding the transmission.

From time to time, some automobile manufacturers make upgrade kits that anyone can purchase from transmission shops in order to resolve design defects that technicians may come across when fixing a transmission.

Transmission Overhauls

If you have heard of transmission overhauls before now, you probably wonder if there is a difference between a transmission overhaul and a transmission rebuild.

The straight and simple answer is that transmission rebuild is transmission overhaul. In other words, the term ‘transmission overhaul’ means the same thing as a transmission rebuild, can be used interchangeably.

How Long Does a Transmission Rebuild Take?

As mentioned briefly earlier, transmission rebuild is not really a standard service procedure. This implies that it takes much more time than a procedure such as replacing your vehicle tires or changing the engine oil.

A transmission rebuild is a complex undertaking that requires in-depth knowledge or technical know-how as well as the right tools.

The complexity of the problem plaguing your vehicle transmission will determine the duration of a transmission rebuild. Moreover, it also depends significantly on the mechanic or technician handling the transmission rebuild.

If this is the mechanic’s first time handling transmission rebuild, the entire process may take longer than it should. But an experienced mechanic can handle the problem within a few days, i.e., 3-4 days. Once again, it depends on how complicated the issue is.

Taking care of your transmission problem as early as possible is crucial. It will save you a lot of your money and minimize the time to rebuild the transmission.

Conclusion

A transmission rebuild is a precise undertaking that can take several days to complete. But the good news is that whatever problem your vehicle transmission is exhibiting, a major overhaul or rebuilding the gear mechanism will address the issue squarely.

Moreover, this process also increases the lifespan of your vehicle transmission. This means that you may have no reason to get a new or refurbished transmission for many years to come.

What Is a Dual Clutch Transmission?

what is a dual clutch transmission

A dual-clutch transmission (DCT) refers to a particular type of AMT (Automated Manual Transmission), i.e., one that uses 2 clutches to ‘preload’ the next gear before shifting. They are currently gaining a lot of favor since they offer higher performance and much better fuel economy than regular automatics.

In other words, dual-clutch transmissions are automated manual transmissions with 2 sets of gears. Each of these gears is operated by separate clutches.

Dual-clutch transmissions are designed to combine the ease-of-use and smooth transitions that automatic transmissions are loved for with the performance benefits that manual transmissions bring to the table.

Dual-clutch transmissions operate smoothly via several in-built transmission control modules or computers. The computers conveniently do away with the need for you to change gears, making the entire process automated manually. 

One of the clutch discs is for odd-numbered gears, while the other is for even-numbered gears. These gears go in order – like with sequential transmissions – but do not rely on the driver to tell it precisely when to switch gears. The dual-clutch transmissions make the swap automatically.

Most vehicles with a dual-clutch transmission are also equipped with a manual mode. Drivers can use paddle shifters to manually shift gears if they like. This is why dual-clutch transmission is sometimes referred to as a hybrid transmission system, i.e., not fully manual or fully automatic.

The Short History/Evolution of Dual Clutch Transmissions

Most DCT enthusiasts regard Adolphe Kégresse as the father of the dual-clutch transmission. In the late 1930s, just before World War II, the French engineer searched keenly for an efficient way of automating gear selection in vehicles.

He eventually invented the concept on which the modern-day dual-clutch transmissions are built. But at the time, the Second World War prevented the engineer from implementing this brilliant idea.

The idea began to take shape in the 1980s, with racing as the impetus, much like most automotive improvements. Porsche is one of the first automotive companies to develop the Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) transmission in the 1980s. 

The automotive company used this transmission with profound success with its 962 race cars. A 962 vehicle with a PDK transmission won its first World Sports Prototype Championship race in 1986 at Monza, Italy. That was how this vehicle was heavily heralded as one of the best cars of all time.

The PDK dual-clutch transmission has become a staple in most Porsche streetcars. Several other performance-oriented automobiles also use dual-clutch transmissions.

How Does a DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) Work?

A dual-clutch gearbox comes with 2 clutches but has no clutch pedal. The traditional manual transmission requires you to use a clutch pedal for clutch engagement. But with a dual-clutch transmission, electronics (computers) control clutch engagement by issuing commands to the internal hydraulics of the transmission.

Each of the 2 clutches is linked with one or the other of the 2 internal transmissions. As a rule, one of the transmissions houses the even-numbered gears while the other controls the odd-numbered gears. One of these transmissions also accommodates the reverse gear for backing up.

As you drive a vehicle with a dual-clutch transmission – depending on the gear you select – one of the internal transmissions becomes engaged with the engine and powers the automobile. The other internal transmission is disengaged from the engine but has already pre-selected the next gear for use.

This change between gears is incredibly swift and almost unnoticeable as it occurs without interrupting or cutting off the torque flow through the driveline.

How Does a Dual Clutch Transmission Differ from Other Automatic Transmissions?

The dual-clutch transmission bears great similarities with the automatic transmission cockpit. There is no other similarity beyond that.

This is because a dual-clutch transmission is much more common with a manual transmission than with automatic transmissions. One of the major advantages of a DCT is its economic fuel-saving benefits. Since the flow of power from the engine is never interrupted, the fuel efficiency rate significantly increases.

Automotive experts estimate that a 6-speed DCT is capable of increasing fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent compared with a standard or regular 5-speed automatic transmission.

This is mostly because torque converters in typical automatic transmissions are designed to slip. This prevents all of the engine’s power from getting transferred to the driveline all the time, especially during acceleration.

How is a Dual Clutch Transmission Different from a Manual Transmission?

When you change gears while driving a car with a manual transmission, it takes about half a second to complete this action. This doesn’t sound like much, but it cannot be compared with the 8 milliseconds it takes some DCT vehicles to do the same. This is the efficiency that most DCT vehicles offer.

The increased speed you experience when changing gears in a vehicle with a dual-clutch transmission makes it faster than its manual transmission counterpart. In truth, a DCT works in the same way that regular manual transmission does.

A DCT comes with auxiliary and input shafts that house the gears, as well as a clutch with synchronizers. However, the major difference between a manual transmission and its DCT counterpart is that it does not come with a clutch pedal.

There is no need for a clutch pedal with a DCT because the solenoids, hydraulics, and computers carry out this shifting operation. You can still instruct the computer system to perform specific actions via paddles, gear shifts, and buttons. 

This helps to improve your overall experience significantly. This is why the DCT remains one of the most dynamic – and beloved – types of acceleration available.

Advantages of Dual Clutch Transmissions

The following are some dual-clutch transmission benefits you should know:

  • Improved fuel economy
  • Smoother performance than manual transmissions
  • Freedom to relax or shift
  • Faster shifts
  • No need for neutral
  • More horsepower at the wheels

Every product with benefits also has a few problems that must be noted. Here are the disadvantages of DCTs:

  • Potential for jerkiness
  • Expensive to replace
  • Steep learning curve
  • Not ideal for heavy-duty pickups
  • Few automobiles equipped with a dual-clutch transmission

So, is a dual-clutch transmission good? It depends on your personal conviction, given that Ford has not recovered from the fallout from its DCT – i.e., Powershift transmission fitted to the Focus and Fiesta and heavily marketed as an automatic transmission – issue.

However, Ford has had tremendous success with another model that uses the DCT. So, you can find out for yourself and see if a dual-clutch transmission vehicle is for you.

But for the most part, a dual-clutch transmission is good, but you can find out for yourself.

Cars That Come with Dual Clutch Transmissions

Many current high-performance vehicles offer dual-clutch transmissions. This include:

  • Audi R8
  • Nissan GT-R
  • Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
  • Porsche 718 and 911

However, dual-clutch transmissions are not severely limited to high-end sports vehicles. DCTs also come with the following vehicles:

  • Kia Forte GT
  • Volkswagen GTI, etc.

DCT technology has also been used in the Plug-in Hybrid and Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid models.

Conclusion

The dual-clutch transmission is not fully automatic or fully manual. The advancements of conventional automatic transmission technology appear to be threatening the popularity and future of DCTs. 

Some experts are even predicting that fewer models will offer dual-clutch transmission technology in the future. But the owners of vehicles currently equipped with DCTs enjoy rapid gear changes and negligible torque loss.

Transmission Rebuild vs. Remanufactured

transmission rebuild vs remanufactured

Your transmission has unceremoniously gone out, and you have no choice but to get a new one. However, repairing a faulty transmission is possible, which can even add several years to your automobile’s lifespan.

Therefore, if you still love your car and want to keep it, you have 2 options: get a rebuilt transmission or a remanufactured one. But what is a rebuilt transmission, and what is a remanufactured transmission? Is there any difference between the two? Comparing these options will help you make the right choice or decision.

Let’s get to the meat of the matter by starting with the term ‘transmission rebuild.’

Transmission Rebuild: What is It?

Rebuilding a transmission – also known as refurbishing, or overhauling, or reconditioning – refers to disassembling it with the primary intent of getting it back into an excellent shape. This usually includes examining every part, cleaning all salvageable components, and replacing anything that has been excessively worn or damaged.

In most cases, rebuilding a transmission requires the replacement of soft parts such as

  • Gaskets
  • Bands
  • O-rings
  • filter
  • Clutches
  • Seals

Every component that is not designed to wear naturally is usually made of pressed aluminum or hardened steel. These can only be replaced on an ‘as needed’ basis.

Replacement components may be used or brand-new. Each torque converter and solenoids are replaced while aftermarket upgrades and even updates are installed during the rebuilding process. 

The unit is reassembled and then installed in your vehicle, ready to take on the road once more.

But before then, several different road tests are initiated, and final checks or tests for leaks are carried out. 

A custom rebuilt transmission should come with a minimum of a 50,000-mile and 36-month warranty, which covers labor and parts.

What is a Remanufactured Transmission?

Remanufacturing a transmission is a process that involves shipping the original factory-fitted transmission to the manufacturing facility, where the repair team does its best to restore the unit to factory standards.

At times, fixing some weak points and errors may require remanufacturing the components that lead to the failure of the transmission. 

The entire remanufacturing process is quite similar to rebuilding a faulty transmission. To remanufacture a failed transmission, it is, first of all, disassembled, cleaned thoroughly, and carefully inspected. Then, every component deemed out of specification, damaged, or overly worn is replaced.

The components that go into remanufacturing the transmission are either requalified or new. But each one is designed to meet specific standards and tolerances.

After reassembling the transmission, it is carefully checked and tested thoroughly for quality assurance before being shipped back to the owner.

Transmission Rebuild vs. Remanufactured Transmission: What Options Should I Go for?

When it comes down to deciding whether to go for a remanufactured transmission or a rebuilt one for your vehicle, you have to consider several factors.

Here they are in no particular order:

Cost

The cost of remanufacturing or rebuilding a transmission is far less than purchasing a brand-new transmission or getting a new vehicle altogether.

Rebuilding a transmission costs anything from $2,800 to $3,800. This depends on parts, labor, and unforeseen circumstances. This is cheaper than buying a brand-new transmission which often costs between $4,000 and $8,000. This depends heavily on the model and make of your vehicle.

However, it is highly essential that you compare quotes in order to find reasonably priced technicians. 

Quality

Rebuilding a transmission or remanufacturing one involves mixing old and new parts. The difference between the 2 processes is that every key component in a remanufactured transmission is brand-new. Dyno testing helps prevent any problems even before the transmission leaves the factory.

Turnaround Time

Rebuilding a failed transmission is a process that takes time. The transmission has to be uninstalled, disassembled, and inspected for worn components.

Then these parts will be purchased and fixed. The transmission is then reassembled and re-installed in the car. This process takes up to 3 to 5 days.

On the other hand, remanufacturing a failed transmission doesn’t take much time. The transmission will only be shipped back to the manufacturer or factory. The entire process of working on a remanufactured transmission takes 1 to 2 days.

Warranty

The warranty that comes with a remanufactured or rebuilt transmission gives nothing but profound peace of mind. 

In most cases, a high-quality remanufactured transmission comes with a factory-backed, 3-year unlimited mile warranty. This is due to the scope of the entire remanufacturing process. 

The warranty period can even be longer, and some manufacturers allow suppliers/sellers to efficiently work on systems at the transmission shop of their choice.

But rebuilt transmissions are usually covered by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty, which pays for repairs if any defective components are found in the torque converter or transmission. This means that if you hit up to 12,000 miles – even if it is not up to 12 months since you repaired the transmission, your warranty expires.

In contrast, if your vehicle lasts up to 12 months without any notable incident – even if you have not hit up to 12,000 miles, the warranty expires.

The warranty for rebuilt transmissions is relatively basic, though the repair costs are covered up to 12 months. However, you are not permitted to repair the transmission in any repair shop of choice if it somehow fails during operation.

Therefore, ensure you thoroughly go through the terms and conditions the warranty covers. This is because labor charges are not often inclusive in rebuilt transmissions.

Reliability

This is where you need to consider the components used when remanufacturing or rebuilding transmissions.

Rebuilding transmissions typically involves patching the unit with old components that will work as expected. But these components are not brand-new ones.

In contrast, remanufactured transmissions involve the use of re-created components or parts that are fairly refurbished. This makes the unit look or operate like a new one. 

Moreover, remanufactured transmissions are often paired with verified (authorized) shops, while rebuilt transmissions can be carried out from any verified or unverified workshop.

Although both remanufactured and rebuilt transmission may be highly compatible with your car, the truth is that remanufactured systems are higher in quality, and therefore more reliable.

Additionally, remanufactured units undergo intensive dyno testing processes before leaving the shop.

Conclusion

Whichever option you choose – i.e., a rebuilt transmission or a remanufactured transmission – it is vitally important to leave transmission repair only to AAA-approved, ASE-certified master technicians.

These technicians are capable of fixing your transmission into tip-top shape so that your vehicle can run smoothly again. The option you choose will also depend on how deep your pocket is, the turnaround time, warranty, etc.

Benefits of Going To a Custom Transmission Shop

custom transmission shop

When you have trouble with your manual or automatic transmission, the first port of call is usually a general auto repair shop. However, taking your vehicle for a transmission repair to just any auto repair is a recipe for disaster. This is because most technicians that work in such repair shops are generalists, not specialists.

Moreover, finding a custom service provider can be a daunting task, especially if you are doing so for the first time. This is why you should find a custom transmission shop long before your transmission starts acting up or goes out.

Bear in mind that your transmission is one of the most intricate and complex components of your automobile. It is not one part but a combination of different parts that must work efficiently and in tandem in order to ensure your vehicle works perfectly. The transmission is primarily responsible for transferring power from your engine into the torque that efficiently spins your wheels.

You can’t shift gears without a transmission, and if you cannot shift gears, your vehicle won’t even budge from where it is parked. This makes the transmission a vital component of your vehicle and must never be trifled with by an inexperienced or unqualified technician.

The input of a custom transmission specialist is highly essential if you want your transmission to last long. This is why it makes sense to get your transmission repaired at a custom transmission shop and enjoy the benefits only a performance transmission shop can provide.

The Pros of Going to a Custom Transmission Shop

Still unsure whether to go for a custom transmission shop or opt for a regular auto repair shop? Here are the benefits of going to a custom transmission shop:

AAA Approved Auto Repair

Most custom transmission repair shops display the Automobile Association of America logo. This is an excellent achievement in the auto repair industry as the AAA doesn’t tread – without good reason – on auto repair shops.

No custom transmission shop displays the AAA logo at its business without meeting the rigid standards in services rendered, pricing, as well as customer service.

ASE Certified Transmission Repair Technicians/Mechanics

A custom transmission shop employs highly experienced technicians well-versed in the field of transmission repair. The level of expertise is often verified by the ASE National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, a renowned organization.

This organization provides testing and certifications that verify that a mechanic possesses in-depth knowledge and a full understanding of their automotive fields. Every Auto Service Experts transmission technician completes their ongoing training via Car Quest Technical Institute and Technet Professional Auto Service and is ASE certified.

For this reason, technicians at custom transmission shops can readily provide the ASE Blue Seal of Automotive Excellence and other certifications when asked or display them in the shop.

Knowledgeable Technicians and Service Providers

You will hardly find a custom transmission shop that doesn’t have knowledgeable technicians and service providers. These specialists are always ready to answer any burning question you have about your transmission. 

They can provide highly detailed and crystal-clear explanations of any problem they encounter when fixing your transmission.

Specialists at custom transmission shops can also highlight the necessary repairs without boring you with auto-jargons. 

They can really hold their own when discussing the best rebuild or repair options for your car, based only on the issues you are experiencing, the condition of your vehicle, as well as the specific concerns or needs you have.

Availability of the Right Equipment/Tools

Every custom transmission shop showcases state-of-the-art tools and equipment that shows how invested it is in the overall quality of diagnostic and timely repair services it provides.

Newer vehicles always require specialized equipment, and custom transmission shops do not lack in this area. This enables them to complete repairs properly and on time. 

Most custom transmission shops also have top-of-the-line diagnostic equipment that greatly or significantly minimizes the chance of misdiagnoses. Some generalist transmission repair shops make misdiagnoses which often costs the customer time and money.

This is one of the vitally essential reasons custom transmission shops are sought-after and preferable to generalist repair shops.

Accurate Estimates of Total Cost of Repair

Most custom transmission shops are honest and highly reliable when providing accurate estimates of the total cost of fixing your troublesome transmission. They will seek and obtain written permission from customers like you before commencing the repairs on your transmission.

As you may have guessed, transmission diagnostics usually involve removing the faulty transmission from your automobile entirely. This can be time-consuming, and therefore, pretty expensive.

Custom transmission shops will not rob you or send you on a wild-goose chase before revealing the general price estimate. This is what inferior tech shops do, and you end up paying a lot more for transmission repairs, which may not yield a favorable outcome.

Timely Transmission Rebuilds

A transmission rebuild is an excellent opportunity to efficiently replace multiple OEM parts with brand-new, high-performance grade components or parts without incurring the well-known costs of a total transmission replacement that some inferior auto repair shops would suggest.

A custom transmission shop will help you save money by replacing only the necessary parts. To rebuild your transmission, the specialists will take it down from your vehicle, take it apart, and replace multiple damaged OEM parts with new, well-crafted aftermarket parts.

Custom transmission shops possess the expertise or technical know-how to take a failing – or failed – transmission and fix it such that it handles up to 1200 horsepower as well as 1000 feet per pound of torque. Your transmission will be dyno-tested for up to 100 miles in order to ensure that it offers the best performance metrics.

But inferior or generalist transmission shops would suggest a total replacement of your transmission, which will cost you northwards of $3,500.

Warranties

A custom transmission shop can give you a full warranty on all repairs. This will give you profound confidence that you will always be covered if any problem occurs after completing repair procedures.

Take note that, at times, warranties are subject to some limitations, including time and mileage. This is why you should find out or check with the dealership if your vehicle is under warranty from them to see if the custom transmission shop is an affiliate.

Conclusion

As you can see, the benefits of going to a custom transmission shop to fix your faulty transmission cannot be overstated. Getting technicians or mechanics from inferior shops will not only cost you a lot of money, but they may even end up making matters worse.

Therefore, the next time your transmission starts acting up, you should already know where to take your vehicle for a mechanical checkup. 

However, do not wait until your transmission goes out before searching for a custom transmission shop. Make sure you have searched for and located a good one in your state or neighborhood. You can ask for referrals or read reviews online or use Google Maps to find a custom transmission shop near you.