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Why does a tranny rebuild cost $3500?

I see rebuild kits for $200.
Does this mean it takes over 30 hours to rebuild a tranny?
In reality, how long does it take them to rebuild a tranny with a kit?

Depending on the vehicle, simply removing and installing the transmission may bill out at anywhere from 4 to 10 hours. Let’s say 8 hours at $100/hr.

Bench labor at the transmission shop to disassemble, clean, inspect, and properly repair and upgrade may bill out at another 6 to 8 hours. Much of this work requires specialty tooling and equipment and those who have it aren’t shy about charging accordingly.

A “soft parts” rebuild kit may be found for $200, but the shop is going to buy it for $200 and turn around and sell it for $300. That’s how retail markup works. This does not include any “hard parts” that may be worn or broken and need replacing, like differential gears, valve body, planetery shell, drums, bands, etc. These parts can easily add hundreds of dollars.

In addition there may be electronic parts upgrades or revisions done during the rebuild that can also add hundreds of dollars.

Doesn’t take long to get to $3000 for a modern AWD transmission rebuild/replacement.

Overhauls in simple rear drive cars with 3 speed trannies cost as little as $750! That’s becasue they were easy to remove and install.

This is why folks usually either put in a used tranny or a factory-rebuilt one. Takes a lot of skilled labor to do it right, hence the high cost.

I saw raw hamburger at the supermarket for $0.99/lb. Why does a hamburger at Fridays cost $9.00? Just trying to put it in perspective…

  1. Businesses need to make a profit.
    B. Specialty work requires expensive tools and resources (skilled people). That does not come cheap.
    III. Most reputable trans shops do not run out and buy an aftermarket rebuild kit when a repair comes in. They stock parts for lots of trannies so they have quality parts on hand. Inventory costs money. Lots of other overhead in brick and mortar buildings that provide services.

The costs above and beyond raw parts is not all directly attributable to unburdened labor hours…

Yea, but let’s say a fan belt job costs $150 to $200. The part costs about $15, and we can figure the time is about 20 mins, rounded up to an hour or two. From the $150-$200 total, we can infer about an hour’s shop time. Can we infer 30 hours shop time for a tranny rebuild?

No offence intended, but you have obviously never run a business. There are many expenses to operate a business that most people don’t even dream of. the payroll and stock of parts are only a small part of it. There are no end of business taxes, insurance, office staff, benefits, theft, lost time, bad debt, advertising, phone bills, etc, etc. And that doesn’t even take into account that every 19 or 20th job something is going to not work out and have to be redone for free. If you are talking about rebuilding a BMW trans I’m surprised it isn’t even higher. I don’t know much about the cars but I do restore BMW bikes and if parts are comparable between the two, the parts are above outrageous in cost.

An outfit in a major metro area near me runs ads now and then for rebuilt transmissions at 395 to 595 exchange. That’s for the transmission only; no labor for the R & R on the car.
What kind of transmission rebuild will you get for that price? You would get one that asemaster referred to; a cleaning and soft kit with no hard parts, no updates, no new solenoid pack, and no new or rebuilt torque converter.

Kriley is correct about parts pricing, both cars and bikes. The only new bike I ever bought was a BMW back in the late 70s (an R100/7) and even way back then the parts were high in price. An accident led to several repairs and one of them I remember very well; 47 dollars and change for a (singular ) spark plug wire only. And that was way back when.

@UsedEconobox2UsedBMW, I will agree that some fan belt jobs only take 20 minutes.

But I also remember working on plenty of cars (from not that long ago) that had 5 or more V-belts, without automatic tensioners, naturally. Hardware had to be loosened, components swiveled, belts replaced, belts tensioned, hardware tightened, tension rechecked, etc. And if you somehow had to remove the fan for access, oh boy . . .

Sure took longer than 20 minutes.

Can we infer 30 hours shop time for a tranny rebuild?

NO.

A TH350 can be rebuilt locally for about $450, a C-4 and C-6 are similarly priced but that price is for a local shop that the rebuilder trusts will know how to properly remove and replace the unit, taking care of details like flushing the cooler. The shop that will bench automatic transmissions locally will not take in a transmission from a DIYer because doing so often results in problems that are caused by poor installation but blamed on the rebuild work. Of course, all work is priced on an “as needed” basis and an up front price is not guaranteed.

TT’s analogy was excellent.

My dentist put a “cap” on my tooth a while back. The actual material costs was probably $20. My portion of the final bill (thank God I have dental insurance) was $500. Do you suppose that with a dremel tool I could have done it myself…?.

Ok, so how many hours does it take to do a full tranny rebuild if it’s less than 30 hours?
10 hours?

How long is a piece of string?

There’s really no answer, is there? Once on the bench, a guy could rebuild an old 2-speed PowerGlide in about an hour and a half. I imagine rebuilding the ZF series transmission assembly on an AWD 330i would take considerably longer. But how long it takes and what it costs really aren’t directly related, are they?

Where are the 30 hours coming from anyway; assuming that was even the case? It sounds like you’re assuming 30 hours labor at about a 100 or more an hour with the remaining 500 covering parts and fluids.

Asemaster, that was a brilliant explanation of what is involved. I learned much, thanks.

@asemaster

Once on the bench, a guy could rebuild an old 2-speed PowerGlide in about an hour and a half.

The first time I had problems with a TH400, I found a guy named Ken, on the south side of Milwaukee, through some gearhead friends. He worked out of his garage but it was set up better than most shops.

He was a busy guy doing a lot of work for the local drag racers etc. I was lucky to catch him one day, he had about an hour to spare. He completely rebuilt it in under 30 minutes with me standing by his side as he took the time to explain everything he was doing.

Charged me the cost of parts and beer essentially. Told me it was guaranteed for life and it took a serious beating drag racing but never did fail. When I graduated to 1000hp club, he built another trans capable of the added power for me. I learned a lot from the few times I could get in his shop.

Does this mean it takes over 30 hours to rebuild a tranny?

It can…depending on the complexity of the tranny. R&R of fwd trannies is more complicated. I’ve rebuilt a couple of manual trannies years and years ago. It’s a minimum of 8 hours to remove rebuild and replace a simple manual tranny on a Vega. Automatics are far more complicated. Add in fwd and things get even more complicated. So $3500 isn’t out of line. That’s why even though Toyota says I don’t need to change the fluid EVER on my 4runner I still change it every 40k miles. Far cheaper changing it once a year then replacing/rebuilding an automatic transmission.

Electric drive motors with one moving part to replace both the motor and transmission is looking financially better in repair. Now, the battery problem ???