How much to rebuild a transmission and replace a clutch
September 10, 2007 3:38 PM   Subscribe

Roughly, how much should it cost to rebuild a manual 5-speed transmission and replace the clutch in a 1999 Saturn SC2? The car has 104,000 miles on it, and is in Los Angeles, CA if that matters at all.
posted by willnot to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, LA (8 answers total)
I'd be willing to bet a used transmission from a junkyard will be cheaper than rebuilding yours or installing a remanufactured/rebuilt unit.

A quick e-Bay search suggests you could find one for $500 or so. Removal and installation would probably cost another $1000, and clutch replacement should be included in that cost (+ clutch parts, roughly $50).
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 3:48 PM on September 10, 2007

Is there a reliable way to determine how many miles a used transmission may have left in it, or is going that way a total crap shoot?
posted by willnot at 3:59 PM on September 10, 2007

Unfortunately, there probably isn't. The good news is that manual transmissions don't generally wear out all that fast. I'm surprised that yours died at 100,000 miles, in fact; you're on the low end of the curve.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:08 PM on September 10, 2007

Are you sure the transmission needs to be rebuilt, or is the garage just padding out what should be a simple clutch change?

Here's a hint: if you can shift through the gears just fine, but the power never gets to the wheels because the clutch is worn out (presumably it was slipping before) then you probably don't need a rebuild.

Go get another opinion.
posted by davejay at 4:28 PM on September 10, 2007

It's not my car. it's a friends. And yeah, she's pretty sure she needs a new transmission.

She took it to one garage who said it needs a new transmission, but they don't do transmissions, and they confirmed that it needs a new transmission. She's a little uncomfortable about used trannies though, so she's leaning towards having hers rebuilt -- she just wants to make sure she isn't getting robbed.

She was driving and suddenly lost her clutch. She got out and noticed transmission fluid all over the place. It got in her clutch too which is why she lost that.
posted by willnot at 4:37 PM on September 10, 2007

I seem to have edited out a sentence fragment in there somewhere. She took it to one place that said it needed a new tranny, but they don't do trannies. So, she took it to another place that does do trannies and they confirmed that it needs a new tranny.
posted by willnot at 4:39 PM on September 10, 2007

Why doesn't she call about three mechanics and get their estimates? That way, she'll learn the going rate locally and find the cheapest garages near her.
posted by salvia at 4:42 PM on September 10, 2007

It's not impossible, but unless she drove over something that hit the transaxle case hard enough to crack it, the kind of failure you describe is highly unusual.

"... She got out and noticed transmission fluid all over the place. It got in her clutch too which is why she lost that. ..."
The loss of enough gearbox oil that your girl friend would see it under the car after stopping from normal driving, plus getting so much in her clutch that it cost her the clutch, so quickly, would imply major, unrepairable cracks in the transaxle casing, and some horrible cause for that, well beyond normal wear and tear. Even an input shaft main bearing failure doesn't usually result in immediately visible loss of transmission oil under the car. If she really saw transmission oil, would she know it, as opposed to seeing engine oil, on the ground? If what she saw was a significant quantity of transmission oil, she's probably going to need to replace the transaxle, as opposed to rebuild it.

It's a lot more likely that she's had a rear main bearing or seal failure on the engine, and what she is seeing is engine oil, which will easily saturate the clutch, requiring clutch replacement, and replacement of the rear main seal. But the transmission in such failures is unaffected.

As you can see, really important that the vehicle be properly diagnosed. Replacing the transaxle is probably uneconomic. Fixing a rear main seal and replacing a clutch is probably worth doing.
posted by paulsc at 7:31 PM on September 10, 2007

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