How Hard is it to Replace a Car Transmission?

If you’ve suddenly run into transmission problems with your car and you consider yourself something of an auto mechanic, you may feel like you can replace your car’s transmission on your own. In this article, we’re going to take a close look at how hard it is to replace your car’s transmission.

Replacing a car transmission is one of the harder maintenance tasks due to the sheer number of parts that make up a transmission. Yet another issue is that it’s easy to damage other components when you’re taking out your car’s transmission, especially if it’s your first time doing it.

As we said, it’s a complicated process to replace a car transmission, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. You may need to do this if you’re driving an older vehicle like a 90’s Toyota or a Nissan. We’re going to take a closer look at exactly what makes it so challenging to replace a car transmission and we’ll also cover some of the general details that you need to know.

How Hard is it to Replace a Car Transmission?

Unlike brake issues or starter problems, replacing a transmission is a pretty big job.

The first thing that you’ll want to consider when you’re researching a transmission replacement is whether it will be worth it in the first place. While the complexity of a car transmission will make it more difficult to replace, that also makes it one of the most expensive components in a car.

In some cases, this can mean that it would be more affordable to sell a car for parts or scrap and then buy an entirely new one instead of replacing the car transmission. Another thing to consider is the amount of time that you’re going to put into the car’s transmission replacement procedure.

There’s an opportunity cost to replacing a car transmission, and if you could be making money in the time that you’re replacing the transmission, it may be more economically feasible to do so. However, there are also reasons to do it yourself, especially if you’re an aspiring mechanic who wants the experience.

Rebuild or Replacement?

Yet another thing to consider is the possibility of rebuilding your transmission instead of replacing it outright. While this will require you to learn all the different parts of a transmission, it will allow you to save some money since it’s unlikely that your entire transmission is broken, it’s usually only a few parts.

You’ll also need to research the specific procedure for dealing with your car’s transmission type. The replacement process for your car’s transmission will depend heavily on whether or not the vehicle is a FWD, RWD, or AWD layout. Since the procedure can vary tremendously, we’ll cover the basics of the procedure without focusing on a specific drive layout.

The Transmission Replacement Process

The first thing that you’ll want to do is ensure that your car’s e-brake is on and that it’s on a level surface. You may also want to put chocks in front of the wheels to make sure that it can’t roll if you end up losing brake pressure. Once that’s done, go ahead and disconnect the negative battery terminal.

When you’re raising your vehicle, it helps to know the dimensions of your transmission. Ideally, you’ll want to raise your vehicle to a height that’s double that of the transmission itself. This will allow you to more easily maneuver the transmission while still having enough space for yourself.

Before you raise your vehicle, it’s a good idea to do some work under the hood to minimize the amount of time you have to spend under the car. Loosen up bolts and screws, remove wires and gear linkages, and do anything else that’s easily accessible under your vehicle’s hood.

Once your car has been jacked up, you’ll be able to access the hoses and linkages that you couldn’t get to through the hood. You can start removing these too so that the transmission is prepared to be taken out. After that, you’ll want to carefully drain the transmission fluid.

When that’s done, take out the drive shafts and the eagles. In the case of an AWD vehicle, you’ll have to decide whether you’re going to remove the transfer case first or if you’ll remove the transmission and the transfer case as a single unit. Consult other owners and your car’s manual to figure out the best way to go about this.

At this point, you should be prepared to remove the transmission itself. Remove the bolts that keep the transmission housing attached to the engine itself. Since the transmission will be held in place by the input shaft, you won’t have to worry about it coming out on its own when you remove the bolts, but it’s still a good idea to be safe.

Up next, you may have to remove an engine mount or a cross member to ensure that the transmission can come out smoothly. Once all of this is done, you’ll need to carefully pull the transmission off of the engine. Be careful to ensure that you don’t damage the torque converter or the clutch while doing this.

As you take off the transmission, you’ll need to keep it supported using a stand or a jack. Gradually pull the transmission out from underneath your car and you’re almost ready to start installing the new transmission. If you want to make things easier on yourself, take pictures throughout the process or label nuts and screws.

Installing the Replacement Transmission

To install your new transmission, you’ll simply have to repeat the process in the opposite order. While you’re doing it, make sure that all of the linkages are attached properly and don’t forget to refill the transmission fluid or you’ll end up breaking the new transmission and you’ll need an entirely new replacement.

To ensure that you won’t have to replace your transmission in the future, make sure that you always keep an eye on your transmission fluid levels as they may deplete over time. With a more reliable vehicle like a Dodge Ram, this may not be as much of a problem.

If this happens, the transmission’s movement can end up damaging itself due to the effect of metal parts grinding against other metal parts.