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Rebuild in shop or purchase transmission online?


My Ford Focus ZX3 2005 automatic transmission has 75.000 miles. Most of witch I have driven over short distances on steep hills.
Problem started by sudden “rough” shifts between 3 and 4 going up hill. The transmission shop initially wanted to replace the Valve body. But I asked them to clean the solenoids and put new oil in. The issue disappeared for about 10K miles but now has come back worse. It often doesn’t want to shift up and sometimes shifts to neutral while driving on the highway. Easing off and back on the gas will coax the gears to shift…

I checked online and found a rebuild transmission for about $900 including warranty and free shipping. Installation should take 4-6 hours.

The transmission repair shop wants to charge about $2700 for a rebuild (if needed…). They question the quality of the online purchase.

What is the opinion on this forum with “cheap” rebuilds purchased online?

Also any tips about my Ford Focus 05 transmission are welcome…


San Mateo, CA

These online rebuilds are probably the same as you can order from your local parts store, like Autozone or Advance Auto. Just like any other rebuild, it is only as good as the rebuilder. I’ve had mixed results from parts store rebuilds, as quality of rebuild varies quite a bit. It’s a crap shoot, IMHO.

To be honest, I’d let the trans shop change out the valve body, ss they originally diagnosed. As long as the transmission did not slip in gear, the clutches probably did not get damaged and a new valve body should fix the shifting issues.

They should check the pump pressure too, it could be a weak or leaking pump…

Online deals can get sideways real quick…Who is going to install it? For how much? If there are problems, THEN what do you do…Who pays for the second R&R?

If it turns out a rebuild is needed (first do the checks mentioned above), I’d rather have a rebuilt used transmission installed, instead of the mechanic doing the rebuild. BUT, I’d find a shop that will do it all (get the rebuilt transmission, install it, and guarantee the results for a year). Bringing ‘your’ rebuilt tranny to a shop is a bad idea, in my opinion.

I guess it depends on the shop.

There’s a transmission shop near me…that is more then qualified to build almost any tranny…many dealerships send them their tranny rebuild work. They’ve been specializes in transmissions for over 40 years. Very well respected shop.

The only points I might raise are:

  1. Whether this rebuild includes new solenoid packs, hard parts, torque converter, etc.
  2. The understanding that the warranty by the trans supplier is only applied to the transmission. If that transmission turns out to be problematic the additional costs would be on you. If the shop proceeds with installing a transmission that you purchased there should be a clear understanding that the warranty from the shop viewpoint is up the minute the rack comes down and the wheels hit the shop floor.

Thanks for all the replies.
So far its not to bad. Will keep driving it until it goes no more. Then will decide if I will have the transmission rebuild or not. Current market value of the car (not counting the transmission issue) is according to KBB $1600 and I don’t like this car (don’t feel safe…).
Perhaps it might last long enough until the new generation VW Golf TDI becomes available in the USA…

I would be EXTREMELY skeptical of any $900 rebuilt transmission. Depending on the transmission, rebuilding a transmission can involve many hours of labor and many parts. High quality rebuilt transmissions usually cost considerably more.

A rebuilt transmission with a much lesser price could be due to it being what I call a “soft” rebuild; meaning the transmission gets, new seals, gaskets, and friction plates.
Solenoid pack, hard parts such as bushings, and update parts would not be included as part of that.