► What is a Remanufactured Transmission
► Rebuilt vs. Remanufactured Transmission
► Remanufactured Transmission Options
► Remanufactured Transmission Pricing Guide
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Should I Replace With Remanufactured Transmission?
When your transmission fails, there are a number of reasons why you might elect to purchase a remanufactured automatic transmission or transaxle rather than having your transmission rebuilt or purchasing a used transmission.
Remanufactured transmissions and transaxles are built by trained technicians in a factory type setting under strict quality control standards. As a result, remanufactured transmissions are considered to be as good as a new transmission. In many instances, a remanufactured transmission is actual better than the original “new” unit because remanufactured transmissions have the manufacturer’s upgrades. “Upgrades” are improvements and/or fixes to known problems that auto-manufacturers become aware of after the transmission has been in service for awhile. So, a remanufactured transmission is an improved version of the original transmission.
What is a Remanufactured Transmission?
Put simply, a remanufactured transmission is a used transmission that has been returned to a like-new condition. Remanufacturing companies will use core returns, or go out and buy used transmissions in bulk, then thoroughly inspect each component on them. From metal thickness to spring tension, every part that doesn’t measure up to the manufacturer’s original specifications, gets replaced. By the time it’s finished, a reman transmission should perform exactly like a new one.
For this reason, automakers use remanufacturing companies to supply their dealers with transmissions for warranty replacements, recall replacements, and retail sales. Since they’re basically “reborn”, a remanufactured transmission can often qualify for coverage under the vehicle’s warranty. This type of transmission is as close to new as you’re going to get without a time machine. But there are still many, many things that you need to consider first.
Did you know? Brand new automatic transmissions are not available for purchase because auto manufacturers do not sell new transmissions in the secondary market. New transmissions are installed in new vehicles. So, when you purchase a transmission from the dealership or any other transmission supplier – you are purchasing a remanufactured unit.
Contrary to popular belief, you can’t just pop down to the local new car dealership and buy a brand new transmission. They can only offer you a remanufactured transmission, no matter how nicely you ask. Automakers only build/buy one transmission per vehicle, so that new car franchise literally can’t get a new transmission from the factory. Even if they have to replace a transmission under warranty, they’ll be installing a remanufactured unit.
Built in a Factory – Not a Shop
If you buy a rebuilt transmission, the job will be done by a mechanic in a shop/garage, who often has little or no supervision. Many mechanics are very good at their job, but many things can happen in a small volume, non-process environment. For example, a weak spot in a metal surface, a slight warp in the valve body, or a hairline crack on the inside of a gear could be overlooked. Dust could get blown underneath a seal by one of those big shop fans and cause a leak or pressure problem. The wrong screw, washer or part could be accidentally used. The shop might not have the right tools to perform a damage-free assembly/installation. They might not have the right equipment to test for problems with the valve body, solenoids or torque converter. Plus, quality inspections may or may not happen during or after the build.
By contrast, remanufacturing companies use state-of-the-art facilities designed to maximize efficiency and quality. Pumps, planetary gears, and other components are remanufactured in a machining department, where skilled machinists have access to top-spec CNC machines, lathes, surface grinders, and mills. During the build, each remanufactured transmission must pass multiple quality inspections, and the finished product is dyno tested using a specially designed test cycle. This ensures that each transmission is properly tuned prior to shipment.
Rebuilt vs. Remanufactured Differences
Differences in process between a rebuild at a shop and transmission remanufacturing:
Rebuilt Transmission / Transmission Rebuild
• Only worn or broken parts get replaced
• Built in a garage with little or no quality control
• Cracks, warping, and tensile strength may slip past visual inspection
• In most cases, an OE master rebuild kit will be used, which won’t address design flaws
• ECU may need to be reprogrammed by the dealer in order to accept the repairs
• Service life depends on how good the mechanic is
• Adjustments may be needed during the break in period
• 12-24 month warranty may only be honored at a few shops in a specific area
Having your transmission rebuilt by a local shop/mechanic doesn’t always end badly. In fact, there are many skilled mechanics out there, who know how to identify and prevent potential problems during the build. So if you can find one of these transmission gurus, you may actually wind up with a very durable rebuilt transmission.
- Built in a state of-the-art factory with all of the latest tools and testing equipment
- “Hard” parts, such as planetary gears, shafts, and pumps, are thoroughly inspected for defects; Any worn, damaged, or out of spec parts are replaced with new components
- Critical parts like pumps, solenoids, valve bodies, and torque converters are remanufactured individually, by trained technicians
- New parts will be substituted if the original component is deemed defective due to excessive wear or a design flaw
- Each remanufactured transmission is built by certified technician(s) that specialize in a particular transmission family
- Strict quality control procedures and multiple inspections ensure that the build quality of each remanufactured transmission meets SST’s high standards
- Dyno testing verifies the functionality, allows technicians to identify and make any necessary adjustments, and provides a break-in period to ensure a plug-and-play installation
- 3-Year Warranty (100K or Unlimited Miles) typically pays for parts and labor at any repair shop in the country, and is typically transferable if the vehicle is sold to a new owner.
If you plan to keep your vehicle for a long time, then a remanufactured transmission is definitely the way to go.
Remanufactured Transmission Upgrades
- Stronger bushings
– Adding extra clutch plates
– More robust clutch & band friction material
– Stronger springs
– Substituting plastic accumulator pistons with more durable aluminum pistons
– Redesigned valves
– Redesigned planetary assemblies
– Recalibrated pressure regulator systems
– Modified valve bodies
Purchasing a Remanufactured Transmission – OPTIONS AND COSTS
For buying a reman transmission, in order from least expensive to most expensive your options are:
- Purchase the transmission direct from a remanufacturer, have it shipped directly to your home or business and install it yourself. See ourTransmission/Transaxle DIY Centerfor removal and installation information.
COST RANGE: $1,400 and up.
- Purchase the transmission or transaxle direct from the remanufacturer and have an independent mechanic do the removal and installation.
COST RANGE: $1,900 and up.
- Purchase the transmission direct from the remanufacturer and have a transmission repair shop of your choosing do the removal and installation.
COST RANGE: $2,300 and up.
- Find the remanufactured transmission you want to purchase and then use one of the remanufacturer’s authorized installers to do the removal and installation. While this last option is typically the most expensive, it is the easiest and least time-consuming method of replacing your failed transmission with a quality-remanufactured unit. This option is also likely to offer the best warranty as well since the installation is being done by an authorized installer.
COST RANGE: $2,600 and up
Benefits of a Remanufactured Transmission
QUALITY… Remanufactured transmissions are build in a factory setting which makes for a more consistant product.
QUALITY… The remanufacturing process typically replaces more parts with new or refurbished parts than the rebuild process.
QUALITY… Remanufactured transmissions undergo more intense testing than a rebuilt transmission. This is due to two reasons; 1) The cost to return a faulty remanufactured transmission is high. 2) Remanufacturing facilties have certain “expensive” dyno-testing equipment that most transmission shops do not have. Rebuilt transmissions are tested after they are installed – remanufactured transmissions are tested before they are shipped/installed.
Where to Purchase a Quality Remanufactured Transmission or Transaxle?
You have several choices when purchasing a remanufactured transmission – here are several sources. Each offer a 3 year warranty.
Our Recommendation: Companies like Street Smart Transmission design individual build specifications and upgrades to make each of their remanufactured transmissions outperform the original gearbox. (see video below). Other options: