Just as you would not expect a doctor to give you a diagnosis over the phone, it is impossible to phone-shop transmission companies for estimates on transmission repair. The transmission repair facility must see the vehicle to begin the diagnostic process.
All transmission repair centers should road-test a car first. This will determine if the problem is with the transmission. An external check will determine if there is an internal or external problem with the system. If the problem is internal, a thorough internal diagnosis of the amount of damage can only be made by pulling the transmission.
Many times a computer malfunction or defective sensor will give the impression that there is a transmission problem. Due to the increasing technology in late model vehicles, the transmission repair facility may need to conduct an electronic diagnosis first to eliminate the possibility of a computer or sensor malfunction.
A thorough internal diagnosis, which includes removing and dismantling the transmission, should find the extent of the damage. Your cost of repair can then be accurately determined. Most shops offer free external inspections and some may offer to conduct an internal diagnosis for a reasonable charge.
Watch out for transmission repair facilities that continuously call after you have authorized work to begin, reporting more damage and increasing the repair price. If a complete internal diagnosis was conducted, this should not occur.
Also, be wary of ads that claim “We’ll repair any transmission for…” or offers to rebuild a transmission for an unbelievably low price. The transmission must be properly diagnosed before the transmission damage and the cost of the repair can be determined. Also, be cautious if a company is quick to quote a firm price without seeing the car. And remember, if a claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
When you do compare prices, compare only apples to apples. There are no minimum rebuilding standards on transmissions.
You should also become familiar with the term “rebuilt” as it applies to transmission repair. Even though there are more than 300 parts in the average transmission, a transmission may only have a few internal parts replaced and be called “rebuilt”. In Texas, if two or more parts are replaced, the transmission may be called “rebuilt”, “overhauled”, or “reconditioned”. Ask what exactly is being repaired for the price quoted and if the parts are used, reconditioned, or new.