What Are the Pros and Cons of Buying a Used Transmission?

Transmission work is expensive. Transmissions are large, complicated assemblies to begin with, and they are hard to remove. The parts cost a lot, and the work is labor intensive.

If your transmission can’t be repaired, you will need a replacement. Here are a few options for replacement:

  • New Transmission - A factory-built replacement for your old unit
  • Remanufactured Transmission - A professionally refurbished unit built to specifications
  • Rebuilt Transmission - A restoration of your old transmission to working condition
  • Used Transmission - A salvaged part from a donor car

Advantages of Used Transmissions

On paper, used parts sound like a good idea. They often cost less than new or remanufactured transmissions, and they solve an immediate problem. Install one of these, and you can be back on the road under budget.

You can find these parts advertised online by private parties or at auto salvage yards. If you buy one from a wrecker, the seller typically guarantees the unit works. Some even come with a 30-day warranty to protect your investment.

However, there are several reasons why you should seriously consider whether or not you should install one of these used components into your vehicle.

Potential Mechanical Problems

The main drawback of a used transmission is that it already has some miles on it. The previous owner consumed some of the functional life of the part. It's hard to tell just how many miles you might get before it goes bad again.

  • Undisclosed shifting problems preventing your vehicle from driving properly
  • Lack of proper maintenance on the unit shortening its service life
  • Contaminants in old fluid ruining your torque converter or transmission cooling system
  • Incorrect part not fitting your car exactly

As the owner, you are stuck with any problems and must pay the additional time and costs of labor to resolve them.

Deals Go Wrong

Be careful where you buy used transmissions and parts. These deals have several pitfalls beyond just mechanical issues. Even a used transmission is a significant expense, so wouldn’t it be nice to secure your investment?

  • Stolen Transmissions - Even honest dismantlers might have stolen inventory by mistake.
  • Deceit - A private seller desperate for cash might misrepresent the part in some way.
  • Limited Legal Recourse - It’s hard to recover losses when victimized.
  • Auto recycling centers do not test transmissions prior to sales. They are sold “as is.”

When offered, the warranties on these components only protect for a brief introductory period. It’s just long enough to make sure everything functions, and the installation goes smoothly. After that, you are on your own. If there is a problem with the transaction or the part, you must absorb the costs yourself.

Not a Long-Term Solution

A used transmission might fix a temporary issue with the car, but it’s not a very good repair. Most people recognize that this approach is not a long-term solution. It’s also hard to hide it. If you bought your transmission from a junkyard, the markings give it away. Selling your vehicle later becomes difficult.

Used parts on your car send a clear message to your potential buyer that you took shortcuts with your maintenance and repairs. It lowers the resale value and makes it harder to attract interest.

Better Transmission Options

At the very least, you should have a qualified transmission expert rebuild your older unit. These repairs are labor intensive and costly, but service technicians stand behind their work. This gives you some recourse to get your vehicle fixed if something goes wrong.

A remanufactured transmission is often the best possible deal with all factors considered. They cost a little less than new transmissions but are just as reliable. They also typically have parts guarantees provided by companies with reputations to protect. When you compare the cost per mile of driving, a remanufactured unit is the best value in the long run. 

Trust Sun Auto Service 

Most professional repair facilities won’t even touch a used transmission because of all the potential hazards. At Sun Auto Service, our service centers focus on getting you the best quality repair and provide solutions that last. If you have an issue with your transmission, schedule an appointment with one of our service centers to have the situation checked out.