How much does it cost to replace a gearbox?
Gearbox maintenance is essential for car owners, whether they drive manual or automatic. For anyone looking to sell their car, it’s a replacement that comes with a cost, but helps you get a fair price once you’re looking to sell.
But how do you know if your gearbox, or transmission, needs replacing? This overview explores the ins and outs of gearboxes, including common issues, maintenance costs and other considerations associated with gearbox repairs and replacement.
- What is a gearbox?
- Common signs of gearbox problems
- Gearbox damage causes
- Gearbox replacement
- Average gearbox replacement costs
What is a gearbox?
A gearbox is the mechanical heart of your car. It distributes the power generated by your engine to the wheels, putting your vehicle into motion. This system uses a set of gears to control your car’s speed and torque, ensuring optimal performance across driving conditions.
The gearbox helps in transitioning between speeds and creating a smooth driving experience. However, gearbox issues can lead to jerky rides, stalling, and long-term damage. These can impact your drive and car value down the road.
Gearbox replacements have variable costs – typically between £500 and £2,500. Factors including the make, model, and engine size will affect the cost to replace the part. Garages can usually source a reconditioned unit, rather than a brand-new one from the main dealer, in order to save some money.
Common signs of gearbox problems
Gear and shifting issues
Does your car have difficulty changing gears? Do its gears slip? Worn-out clutch and synchroniser components impact gear functionality and can signal greater gearbox problems.
Routine maintenance checks and promptly addressing clutch or synchroniser issues are key to ensuring smooth gear transitions and preventing gearbox damage.
Manual gearbox noises
Gearboxes should run quietly, so excessive noises could signify underlying problems. Contributing to unsettling sounds, worn bearings and damaged gears can indicate a broken gearbox.
Identifying and replacing worn components is imperative to prevent further damage, as well as ensuring a quieter and more efficient gearbox operation.
Leaking transmission fluid can also signify gearbox issues. Improper proper fluid levels, damaged seals or leaking can impair your gearbox and impact your vehicle’s functionality.
To promote optimal performance and prevent wear, keep an eye on the transmission fluid levels in your gearbox. Proper lubrication and regular fluid inspections mitigate the risk of potential damage.
Gearbox damage causes
Regular wear and tear
Like all car parts, gearboxes face inevitable wear and tear over time. Routine inspections and timely replacements are essential to reducing wear, helping preserve your gearbox’s longevity and car’s performance.
Poor or improper maintenance
Upkeep is essential to keeping your car in top shape. Gearbox issues can stem from not maintaining your car properly, or even neglecting maintenance. Specifically, gearboxes require enough transmission fluid to remain in working order. Inadequate lubrication accelerates damage to crucial gearbox components by causing excessive friction and heat.
Regular oil changes, sticking to vehicle maintenance schedules, and following transmission fluid instructions are paramount to reducing premature gearbox wear.
Accidental damage or impact
Collisions and unexpected impacts can cause significant damage to your gearbox. Accidents can lead to fracked casings, bent shafts and misaligned gears – all of which impact your car’s drive and value.
After an accident, inspect your car for both structural and internal damage and schedule repairs as soon as possible to prevent future malfunctions.
So, your gearbox has issues. From unusual sounds, to shifting problems, to leaks, carefully note all of your gearbox issues. If you’re handy, you can open the gearbox to review damage to its individual components.
Alternatively, consult a mechanic to diagnose the problem and decide on next steps for repair or replacement.
DIY gearbox removal
Gearbox replacement is a delicate process. If you have a knack for DIY, follow the below step-by-step guide to remove the gearbox yourself.
This approach is designed to prevent damage to surrounding car parts, however, by doing this yourself you run the risk of additional damage to your vehicle.
1. Secure your vehicle to prevent unnecessary movement
2. Open the hood and carefully disconnect the battery from the gearbox
3. Detach the driveshaft, clutch, and electrical connections from the gearbox
4. Triple-check that the gearbox is unplugged from all other car parts
5. Use a transmission jack to slowly remove the gearbox from your car, ensuring that the gearbox does not hit any other pieces during removal
You can also consult a mechanic to have your gearbox removed professionally – this will be a safer option for anybody unsure about working with car parts.
New gearbox selection
A lot of factors go into choosing a new gearbox and it’s key to know what to look for.
Do you want new or refurbished? What is the cost, warranty, and availability in your area? Is the supplier reputable?
Above all, be sure that your new gearbox fits your vehicle’s specifications.
Like with removal, you can either install your new gearbox yourself or ask a mechanic. For DIYers, follow the below for installing your new gearbox:
1. Carefully lift the gearbox into place with a transmission jack
2. Align and connect the gearbox with the engine
3. Reattach the clutch, driveshaft, and electrical components to the gearbox
4. Test your newly installed gearbox before hitting the streets to ensure smooth transitions, proper engagement, and no unusual sounds. Consult a mechanic on any issues
Alternatively, have a mechanic install your new gearbox – again, this could be a much safer option.
Gearbox replacement costs: determining factors
Vehicle make and model
Your car’s make and model influence gearbox compatibility. To make sure that your new gearbox integrates with your vehicle’s mechanical system, familiarise yourself with the specific requirements of your car, considering factors like engine type, size and intended use.
For gearbox repairs, you need the right parts. The availability of gearbox parts varies, so minimise delays by choosing a gearbox for which parts are readily available.
Budget better for a gearbox replacement! Do your homework on qualified mechanics’ labour costs and hourly rates for parts replacements. Keep in mind that rates vary based on location, garage and expertise, as well as the complexity of the task.
Average gearbox replacement costs
|Estimated cost range (including labour)
|£800 – £1,500
|£1,000 – £2,000
|£1,500 – £3,000
|£2,000 – £4,000
These prices are a guide, and quotes from mechanics will vary. Although the cost may not be worth it if you’re close to selling your car, you will find that if you sell a car with a faulty gearbox, the driver will demand at least the cost to repair the part be taken off the price, if not more. To preserve your value, stay on top of car maintenance as best you can.
Cost comparison: manual vs. automatic gearboxes
Choosing between a manual and automatic gearbox involves considering the associated costs. Do you have a personal preference for your drive? Or does your car have gearbox specifications that you need to follow?
Overall, replacing manual gearboxes is generally less expensive than their automatic counterparts. The simplicity of manual transmissions translates to lower labour and parts costs.
Compare mechanic quotes
Make an informed decision by getting replacement quotes from various garages in your local area. Variations in labour costs and parts prices significantly impact overall pricing. Comparing quotes can help you make a balanced decision.
Considering refurbished or used gearboxes
For a budget-friendly alternative, you can explore refurbished or used gearboxes. However, make sure you go with reputable suppliers and assess parts before purchasing.
Remember, maintenance is key
Post-replacement, keep your gearbox in tip-top shape with regular maintenance. Protect against future damage by proactively scheduling oil changes and inspections, as well as adhering to manufacturer recommendations.
How long should a gearbox last?
A well-maintained gearbox can be expected to last around 100,000 to 150,000 miles. Regular servicing enhances longevity.
How do I know if my gearbox needs replacing?
Your gearbox may need replacing if you hear unusual noises, experience slipping gears, or have difficulty when changing gears. Consult a professional for a thorough diagnosis.
Is it better to repair or replace a gearbox?
This depends on the extent of damage. Extensive or critical issues often require replacement, whereas minor problems may just need a gearbox repair. Regardless, consult a professional to determine what’s best for you.
Is replacing a gearbox easy?
Replacing a gearbox is an intricate process that demands specialised knowledge and skills. The complexity of disassembling and reassembling lots of moving parts makes it a task best entrusted to skilled professionals.
How much does it cost to replace an automatic gearbox?
The cost to replace an automatic gearbox varies widely, ranging from £600 to £2,500+. Vehicle type, brand and the state of the gearbox (new or refurbished) all influence pricing.