How to Buy a Used Transmission

By Francis Walsh

Your transmission is in need of a repair and you don’t know how to buy a used transmission? When you want to save money on a new transmission repair, you have a lot of choices. Depending on how much of the work you want to do on your own, you can save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars when you know where to look and how to buy a used transmission. Follow these steps to buy a used transmission that fits your budget and can get you back on the road quickly.

Research telephone and internet directories for local businesses that will sell you a used transmission, starting with the local salvage yard. Next, you will want to find a transmission shop, an auto parts dealer and a local auto repair business to inquire about the availability transmissions for the make, model, year and engine size of your car.

Ask if the business has these types of transmissions for sale: used, rebuilt, salvaged or new. Your need a used transmission because you want to remove your broken transmission and install one that works without having to rebuild the old one or purchase a new one that has been rebuilt. Inform each person you speak with why you want to find a quality used transmission for your vehicle, and ask them for their help.

Inspect your choices before making a payment for a used transmission. A used or salvaged transmission can be in various states before you receive it: A high quality used transmission is one that has no fluid build up around the gasket edges and has a clean and damage-free appearance. Use the shifter linkage to manipulate the transmission through its gears. Feel for gaps in the shifting and make sure you can shift through all the gears.

Negotiate a warranty, if possible. Some salvage yards and used parts dealers will offer a limited warranty on used parts (normally 30 days, but sometimes as few as five). Be ready to ask for some time to get the part installed and checked out before the warranty runs out, if any. Buying a used transmission has many pitfalls, but a smart shopper knows how to get what they want and be able to do it for less. Buy a used transmission using these steps and you will have the advantage when it comes to paying less for a used transmission for your vehicle.

Tip

If you cannot find a used transmission, consider buying a transmission case and having it rebuilt. Installation and removal can be done by you, and a rebuilt case is cheaper than rebuilding your own in many cases. Bring the empty case to a transmission shop and ask for the price of a rebuild. You’ll be shocked at the difference in price when compared to the rebuilding of the broken transmission in your car.

Warning

There are risks you will take when you buy a used transmission. The person selling the part may not even know if it works or not. Remember to get any warranty you can, and get the work done before the warranty runs out to avoid spending money on a used transmission that does not work.

About the Author

Francis Walsh has been working as a freelance writer since 2003. He has contributed to websites such as Shave, Autogeek and Torque & Chromeas, as well as provided content for private clients. Walsh has worked as a performance part-packer and classic car show promoter, now serving as crew chief for Nitrousfitz Racing.