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Really AAMCO?!?...Really!

So it turns out that my Tranny in my 1999 Chevy Astro Van conversion is bad. While in drive, it only goes up to 20mph, then I have to shift it into 2nd and then it will hit about 45mph and go no faster. Aamco says they will rebuild it for the wholesale cost of only 2 THOUSAND dollars. What a rip off!!

Can anybody tell me a realistic price that I should entertain? I have 5 kids and they are all in different school grades now…high school, middle, and elementary! I need my van fixed asap! Any thought comments advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

$2-$3k is about right. I wouldn’t go to AAMCO or any chain though, i’d find a local transmission specialist.


I would tell you to go and get a used transmission and have that installed. But your vehicle is at an age where it would probably be rare to find a good used transmission. Did you know AAMCO is an acronym for All Automatics Must Come Out?

Check around for an independent tranny shop in your area.


Wow! Really… why so much though? I have seen like used trannys for between $600 - $800. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to go that route then to rebuild mine?

If you do some research you will find that 2 grand on a rebuilt transmission is not out of line at all and in many cases is dirt cheap.

The fact that you don’t like a 4 digit price does not mean for one second that anyone is ripping you off.

I might ask how many times you have had the transmission serviced. If the answer is zero then there’s no one to blame but yourself for the current problem. Service the transmission every 30k miles or so and odds are it will outlast the vehicle that it’s in.

I only have around 85k on my motor why rare to find good used tranny?

To PROPERRLY build one of these with new electronics, converter, all the updates, and R&R??? Yea, $2,000 is not out of the ballpark at all. I build many of these. Now, you can get a used one from a pull a part or a junk yard for much less and have it installed. Try getting a second opinion. I dont trust AAMCO too much even though their price isnt too bad.


Sure, a used transmission is the cheapest way to go. But see if can find a GOOD used transmission for your thirteen year old vehicle. And if you do go this route, at least pull the tranny pan to check for debris. What you find in the tranny pan dictates whether it’s worth installing the tranny or not.


All the services on my car are current and up to date. I purchased it used about 2 years ago and they took impeccable care of it. I have the paperwork to prove it. As for myself, I get the oil changed when it is time and just had a major tune up done about 9 months ago so… And I am sorry if I feel that 2 grand is a rip off, but I only paid $3,500. I got a great deal, it was low miles and in super shape, I have heard of being able to get a used tranny or rebuilt for a lot cheaper. That is why I am on here, to find out if is true or not.

OMG Tester, I am not following you…yes, there was debris when my father in law changed my fluid. He said like metal of something, but what does that mean? Why would it not be worth it based on what is in the pan? Keep this in mind, you are talking to somebody who know absolutely nothing about trannys. Where can I find a GOOD used tranny?

Two grand is pretty cheap for this job, actually. If spending or coming up with that kind of money is not really an option for you, you may want to check around at locally owned transmission specialty shops. There is one near me that regularly allows customers in need to make payments on a large job such as this at zero percent interest for a year (there is, of course, paperwork involved that will hold up in court should one default on this very nice arrangement). Other shops may do likewise, but you will have to ask, and this is not a common thing. This shop is located in central IL. If you are located near there, I can give you their name.

Why buy a used transmission? You already have a used one, and it’s even installed in the car already.

I run an auto shop and I refuse to sell used transmissions unless you pay the full price up front before we even begin work. Why? Because then if the transmission doesn’t work I’m not out my money, you are. And then you’ll have to pay the labor cost again to replace it again. No one agrees to this arrangement…that’s why I do it.

$2000 is right in range, maybe a little on the low side, for a complete transmission rebuild with a torque converter and a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty. And there may be some extras, like replacing worn u-joints and mounts.

If the paperwork does not show transmission servicing then impeccable care means nothing because that’s the only unit in question at this point.

Your father in law found the problem when he said there was metal debris in the pan. That means something inside is coming apart or wearing excessively and signals the end of the transmission.
It could be that this vehicle had a transmission problem prior to your buying it, someone discovered it, and the vehicle was dumped before the transmission died. Someone (you in this case) ended up with hit, unfortunately.)

Regarding used transmissions (and engines) they’re all pretty much a roll of the dice. The only way of knowing with 100% certainty if they’re good is if the vehicle that the unit comes out of can be test driven in advance.

If your father-in-law removed the tranny pan and saw debris that was shinny metal that’s not good. This means bearings and shafts are wearing out. Expensive! But you remove the tranny pan from the used transmission before installing it, and all you find is a little black sludge with some bronze speckles mixed in, that’s just normal clutch wear. And that tranny should be good to go.


mark9207 I am in southern cali, but thanks for the advice. Aamco also offers a payment option, however, not with the oh so gracious zero percent for the first year deal.

Ok4450 I found at least 2 tranny service were done on my tranny. i have a question for you why do transmissions go bad? Consider this when answering my question my van has under 90k.

We don’t care what scAAMCO offers. Don’t go there. Shop for good independent transmission shop. I’m sure they have dozens in So Cal. Click on the Mechanic’s Files link at the top of this page. In fact there’s a guy here in middle America who came from there. So, I guess there’s one less out there. He got very tired of dealing with Cali’s EPA rules. That’s just one reason So Cal is more expensive than some other parts of the country. $2000 isn’t bad at all.

As for used transmissions, you might find a good one, and you might not. I took the bet on a Jeep Grand Cherokee once. $750 for the first tranny + $300 to put it in, then another $300 to R&R it the second time. For $1500 to $1700 I could have had a rebuilt tranny with a warranty. Granted the second one was still going strong when I sold the Jeep 50K miles later. The other thing is, at the age of your van, most of the ones in salvage yards will already have more miles on them than your original.

Ok fellas, so then answer me this…could Aamco truly be scamming me and just saying it needs to be rebuilt when it doesn’t? I mean, could it just be slipping?

If someone pulled the pan off of the transmission and found metal there, I doubt it’s just slipping. Those metal pieces are from the gears and other moving metal pieces that make the thing go. Once metal pieces start falling into the pan, it’s the beginning of the end.

Transmissions fail, well, because they do. Any moving part is going to wear out and break sooner or later. One of my computers at work had a broken hard drive when it was only 5 years old. Another computer is 12 years old and working fine. Sometimes things just break.

Agree with all the others. I will throw one more option out for you. If your hubby and father in law are even half way handy, and it sounds like he might be, you can buy a rebuilt trans online, have it shipped to you, and you can install it. It’s not a horrible job on your van, and it will save a bunch of money on labor. My friend got a trans for his old pickup for $750 this way with a warranty. A weekend of work and he was back on the road.