Used Transmission Buying Guide – Handyman tips


No vehicle owner wants to hear they need a new transmission. Replacing a transmission will always be expensive, and repairs often cost more than buying a used or rebuilt transmission. If you’re looking for a new transmission, the least expensive option is generally buying a used transmission rather than a new or remanufactured one.

used transmission on pallet

Here are a few pros and cons of purchasing a used transmission.

Advantages of a Used Transmission

According to industry statistics, the average cost of a new automatic transmission will average between $5,000 and $5,500. That’s far more than most people can afford to spend. That’s why so many owners opt for a used transmission instead. If you’re looking for a used transmission, salvage yards can usually provide one. However, some specialists also provide a variety of transmissions. As a rule, the cost of a used transmission will be far less than either a new or rebuilt transmission. In addition, finding the correct replacement for a specific make and model is usually fairly easy. The provider will help to ensure you get the correct version for your vehicle.

Obtaining the transmission quickly is also essential. If the correct transmission is not available locally, the supplier will usually be able to ship one almost immediately. Obtaining a new or rebuilt transmission can take days or even weeks longer. So, if you’re in a hurry to get your vehicle back on the road, consider purchasing a used transmission.

Disadvantages of Used Transmissions

While there are numerous advantages available when buying used transmissions, there are also potential pitfalls to avoid. First, not all sellers are qualified to inspect a used transmission prior to selling it. That puts buyers at risk of spending the time and money to install the transmission only to find the replacement isn’t any better than the original one that failed. Always use care when purchasing used transmissions and ensure the seller has the expertise to test each transmission they sell.

car transmission parts

Another disadvantage is warranty coverage. Quality used transmissions won’t have the same warranty that’s provided with a new or rebuilt one. However, if a problem exists, it will likely be discovered quickly. That doesn’t mean much if the warranty doesn’t cover both parts and labor and a second transmission must be installed. When purchasing a used transmission, make sure you understand any risks you may be taking.

Should You Consider a Rebuilt Transmission?

While a rebuilt transmission is certainly less expensive than a new one, the cost will still be far higher than buying a used unit. However, rebuilt transmissions don’t always live up to the buyer’s expectations. In other words, the person or shop doing the work will determine whether the finished product will deliver the performance you expect. As with used transmissions, there are several pros and cons to consider when purchasing rebuilt units. 

Choosing a Reliable Provider is Crucial

Whether you’re purchasing a used transmission from a salvage yard or a parts specialist, pay careful attention to the provider’s qualifications. When the best provider is chosen, the odds of ending up with a quality product go up substantially. That means your vehicle will be road worthy again faster. More importantly, the total cost will be more predictable when a quality provider is used. You won’t have to worry about paying twice for the same repairs when you use the best supplier.


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