What goes into rebuilding a transmission?
A transmission rebuild is a major mechanical overhaul done to a vehicle’s transmission. A transmission, like a vehicle engine, is made up of a series of interrelated mechanical parts that wear out over time and with extended use. Rebuilding a vehicle’s transmission replaces these worn parts without replacing the entire transmission.
A transmission rebuild is a popular option for those wishing to avoid paying the relatively high cost of replacing a vehicle’s damaged or worn-out transmission with a new one. Brand new transmissions, especially on more modern, late model cars, can be almost as expensive as a brand new engine. Many people, especially those on a tighter budget or those simply wishing to avoid paying the full price of a brand new vehicle transmission, will opt for a transmission rebuild. A transmission rebuild includes the removal and inspection of a vehicle’s transmission, along with the replacement or refurbishment of any severely damaged or worn transmission parts.
A vehicle transmission is an intricate mechanical system consisting of a variety of gears, bands, pumps, and rotors that all work in harmony to affect optimum transmission operation. A transmission rebuild includes the careful inspection of all of the main parts of a vehicle transmission. After careful inspection, parts that are severely worn or damaged beyond repair are replaced; sometimes this means replacement with brand new parts, and sometimes this means replacement with a refurbished and/or reconditioned part. The bottom line is this: a transmission rebuild restores a vehicle transmission to peak operating function and efficiency without replacing every single transmission part.
Opting for a vehicle transmission rebuild as opposed to a vehicle transmission replacement offers many benefits. First and foremost, a transmission rebuild is a lower-cost alternative to a brand new transmission. Generally, a good transmission rebuild will cost about half the money as a brand new transmission. Secondly, a transmission rebuild normally saves time. A vehicle undergoing a transmission rebuild will often times be ready after three or four days in the repair shop. A vehicle receiving a brand new transmission will often times be sidelined for over a week or more, depending on how quickly a brand new transmission is located, ordered, shipped, and installed. Lastly, a transmission rebuild replaces only those parts of a vehicle’s transmission that are severely worn or damaged, thus eliminating the overkill that results from replacing a transmission that is still in good shape, save for the broken or worn parts, with a new transmission.
In a nutshell, the engine of your car creates something called rotational power, and to make the car move, it has to be transferred to the wheels. This is done through the drive train and the transmission is the central component of that. The transmission transfers the spin from the engine into power applied to the wheels. At different speeds, the power required to move the wheels will vary and the gear ratios within the transmission allows adjustment of power transfer from the engine to the wheels. This allows you to seamlessly speed up, slow down or stop.
The automatic transmission connects to the engine at the bell housing, where there is a torque converter or if it’s a manual transmission, a clutch. The transmission can be thought of as a switchboard, controlling the car’s power.
Cause of Transmission Failure
Often a vehicle showing signs of a transmission issue will have one singular cause. A proper approach to diagnostics is required to identify this cause of failure. At Advanced Transmission Center, we employ our TrueTest Inspection It would be terrible to rebuild a transmission without taking into consideration the specific transmission codes, fluid condition or drivability symptoms discovered during the inspection. Causes of failure could include but is not limited to hard part damage, soft part deterioration, fluid quality or contamination, or electrical failure.
Within a transmission, there are numerous parts that are made from materials that will face deterioration over time regardless of the maintenance you conduct on your vehicle. Some examples include clutches, gaskets, seals, o-rings, snap rings, etc. Every quality rebuild should include the replacement of these items. Parts manufacturers recognize the importance of this step and will sell all of these parts in one Master Rebuild Kit. Purchasing this kit saves customers significant money relative to buying each component within a kit. Some repair shops will quote customers below-average prices to rebuild a transmission and often it is because they do not replace the soft parts. They identify and repair the single cause of failure, otherwise known as a “spot repair”, without changing the soft or marginal parts. This lower-cost approach is irresponsible and exposes a customer to repeated transmission failures.
Although a single issue might cause the symptoms a driver is facing, normally the conditions leading to one cause of failure has already affected numerous other components. For example, if one seal is leaking it’s likely the condition of other seals is poor as well. Identifying and then repairing or replacing these marginal parts is a critical step to extending the life of your transmission and vehicle.
Other Known Failures
Like vehicle manufacturers, each transmission model has its own quirks. An experienced transmission shop should know common causes of failures for common transmission. A GM vehicle with a 4L60E has a high risk of clutches burning up in 3rd and 4th gear. A Ford vehicle with a 5R55E will likely face a servo bore failure. A Dodge vehicle with a 45RFE transmission often has issues due to the solenoid block. Even if these particularly known failures might not be the specific cause of failure in one particular situation, they should be taken into consideration when completing a quality transmission rebuild.
Rebuild or overhaul
You may have heard of transmission overhauls before. If so, you’re probably asking yourself what the difference is between a transmission rebuild and a transmission overhaul is? Well, that’s a simple question to answer. A transmission rebuild is a transmission overhaul; they mean the same thing.
If your transmission requires a rebuild, you have two options. The first is to remove your existing transmission and rebuild it, then put the rebuilt unit back in your car. The second option is to replace your existing unit with another unit that has already been rebuilt or re-manufactured.
However, used transmissions often have questionable histories that could create a whole new slew of issues. New transmissions, meanwhile, are mostly aftermarket transmissions billed as new but are in fact rebuilt transmissions with new parts.
Reassembling the Transmission
Reassembly is of course the most important aspect of rebuilding your transmission; perfect parts won’t work if they’re not put together correctly. This is where the importance of labeling your parts scrupulously comes in. You should have every tiny piece of your transmission in a specific spot, waiting for its turn to be incorporated into the rebuild. Once you’ve reassembled the transmission, make sure you conduct all proper pressure tests. Everything has to be exactly where it should be for the transmission to work properly. If there is any doubt as to the rebuilt transmission’s workability, you should consult an experienced transmission mechanic before trying to drive your vehicle.