How long should I estimate a rebuilt trans to last?
May 2, 2011 8:27 AM   Subscribe

How long will a rebuilt transmission last?

My 2004 Maxima w/ 101k miles on it blew it's trans yesterday (goody). After 100k inspection they said all the car needed were plugs and breaks. Fluids looked great. Then two weeks later my trans blew. So we're looking at a rebuilt but high mile trans.

While I don't have a down payment on a car and this one is paid off, I was wondering will a high mile, rebuilt trans be the way to go or is this going to blow too in 2 years? Trying to estimate/weight when is the right time to get a lower mile car replacement (and start all over again w/ payments :()
posted by stormpooper to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
A good rebuilt transmission will last as long as a new transmission. If you don't get a good rebuild you can expect half the life of the average length of the transmission.

In efforts to blindly answer your question I will say that it will last for 52,933 additional miles.

Also, sometimes you can still purchase "new" transmissions even for older cars. You'll probably be looking at a slightly higher cost but maybe that will give you greater peace of mind.
posted by zephyr_words at 8:56 AM on May 2, 2011

100K miles is not a lot of miles for a 04 Maxima, if it is properly cared for. Did you change the ATF every 30,000 miles? Do you avoid jack rabbit starts? Your care of the car, and your driving habits, are a big variable in how long it lasts. Is it a factory rebuild, or is the local transmission shop going to do it? Assuming it is about $2000 or so, that is less than $100 a month over 2 years. What kind of car are you going to get for a $100 a month payment on a 24 month loan? Odds are that car is not going to be better than a 2004 Maxima with a rebuilt transmission. If you take care of it I'd think should be good for 50K miles.

If your car doesn't have a transmission cooler consider having the shop add one while they are working on it. It probably won't add 10% to the cost of the rebuild, and is well worth it IMHO.
posted by COD at 8:58 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Who rebuilt that transmission? An ATRA affiliated shop will give you a warranty on the
transmission. Ask about it. This is cut and pasted from another comment:

On the question of a dealer versus transmission shop, the only real difference we
found was that the dealer had a much longer minimum warranty than the transmission
shop (and price that was proportional to the length of the warranty). An ATRA affiliated
transmission shop (Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association) will provide a
warranty for 2 years or 24000 miles, and your warranty work can be done anywhere at
an ATRA affiliated shop (and there are a lot of them).
posted by the Real Dan at 9:15 AM on May 2, 2011

Response by poster: This is helpful. Thank you. New trans is $4,500 - 5k at dealer (too much). So we are going rebuilt. I don't drive the car as often as I used to but still want it to last (and LOVE that car).

I'm hoping rebuilt + labor is under $2k.
posted by stormpooper at 9:19 AM on May 2, 2011

Response by poster: *jumps up and down*

Sweet. It was the camshaft sensor. But still, this is good to know.
posted by stormpooper at 12:56 PM on May 2, 2011

zephyr_words writes "A good rebuilt transmission will last as long as a new transmission."

At least. Rebuilt transmissions benefit from years of actual user miles to identify weaknesses and often the rebuild will address these weakness. For example the 3 speed Auto found in 80s and early 90s Dodge Caravans had a nasty habit of exploding because of failure of a 30 cent retaining pin holding the final drive spiders together. In 93 Dodge replaced the pin with a plate bolted to the carrier eliminating the problem. This plate easily retrofits to earlier transmissions and anyone doing a rebuild will install it thereby eliminating a significant failure risk for about $5 in parts.
posted by Mitheral at 1:26 PM on May 2, 2011

Sweet. It was the camshaft sensor. But still, this is good to know.
Good news. I think I've read reports of that sensor occasionally being a trouble point. I was pretty surprised when you said the Maxima only had 101k on it and lost the tranny. Those cars are, generally, built like tanks. We're on our second one (2001) and fast approaching 375k.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:12 PM on May 2, 2011

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