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04 Tacoma - Transmission

Hi. My mechanic tells me that it won’t be long before I’ll need a new transmission. He said two options are to get one from a junkyard or to have mine rebuilt. I’d love to hear your opinions on which route I should take and why. Thanks so much!

Assuming your mechanic is correct and you do need a new transmission soon, I would look at a third option and that is a re-manufactured transmission. It would be more costly than a junk yard and a little more than a rebuilt transmission, but the process of re-manufacturing is a little more involved and generally you get a better warranty. Most even offer a nationwide warranty at no additional cost.

A junkyard transmission is a crap shoot, you never know what you get until the thing is installed. Common causes for cars to end up in junkyard is engine failure, transmission failure and totals. If you are lucky they give you a 30 days warranty, which obviously does not include labor.

Rebuilding your own transmission depends simply on who is doing it. Experienced shops probably do a good job, but make sure you look into this first before you give the shop the go-ahead. Look at the warranty you will get. I would not accept anything less than 1 year and 12K miles.

So, depends on how much you like your car, how long you plan on keeping it and your budget.

I had the automatic transmission on my truck rebuilt, and that has worked well for me. No trouble w/it at all. The key is to use the best tranny shop in town to do the job. This is almost never a chain store btw, almost always it is a small inde tranny shop that the town’s mechanics use when their own cars get tranny problems.

Which way to go depends a lot on how your truck has been driven. If a lot of hard miles, the kind of miles hard on a tranny, probably best to switch trannies. If the truck has been treated well, driven gingerly, then you want to keep the tranny and have it rebuilt probably…

I’ll take a good independent over one of the remanufactured ones from a national chain any day. There’s a real good independent shot a town over from me…all they do is transmissions and transaxles. 10 bays. The local dealers send their work to them.

What is the condition of this truck otherwise? How much longer are you hoping to keep it?

They only way you should consider a used transmission from a junkyard is if the truck is on its last legs and I want to get rid of it. The only way I’d consider it is if I am swapping the trans myself.

My labor is essentially free (just the cost of coffee and beer) so I can risk the transmission being a bad one right from the junkyard. If it is bad, yards will take them back and swap them for another but the same risk is still there. If I am PAYing for the work, I would not risk it, I’d have it rebuilt at the best shop in town.

The truck body and interior are in excellent condition. The truck has never been wrecked. The current transmission has about 278K miles on it. The shop flushed it and replaced the fluid on Monday, and it started jerking when shifting into second gear. I took it back to the shop. They pulled the pan, and there were slivers of metal in it, so they flushed it and replaced the fluid again (at no charge). It’s driving fine now, but the slivers of metal caused them to think things are starting to break down. I plan to keep the truck indefinitely. A transmission job is a lot cheaper than a new truck … at least, that’s the way I look at it. It’s been a great truck.

with 278K miles on the transmission I would expect to see some shavings. Is this the first transmission service you have done on it?

As long as it drives fine now I would not consider replacing or rebuilding the transmission, but that’s just me… Save your money for when/if it the transmission breaks down.

Some metallic debris at the bottom of the pan is normal. Cutch-pack wear byproducts mostly. It’s not a reason to replace or rebuild the tranny as long as it is behaving. At 278 K tho, it is nearing the end of course. But no reason to assume it is already there.

What’s troubling to find in the pan is a big chuck of metal, like a gear tooth, or a circ-clip that has snapped in half.