Home Mechanics & Processes Transmission Diagnostic Cost – What Should You Expect To Pay?

Transmission Diagnostic Cost – What Should You Expect To Pay?

by Kelvin Yates

Are you experiencing some issues with your transmission like skipping gears or problems with hard shifting? You probably have made the conclusion that your transmission needs diagnosing and you want to learn the transmission diagnostic cost? If that’s the case, you came to the right place because we are going to learn everything you need to know when it comes to transmission problems.

Transmission problems are probably one of the worst things that could happen to you as a car owner. This is the case because transmissions are hugely complex pieces of machinery that involve a lot of precision. And this precision has to be delivered with every shift. If it’s not delivered then you will experience transmission problems and shifting issues.

That’s why we are going to cover when do you need diagnostics for your transmission. Because it could be something minor that could solve itself over time and it could also be something very critical that could ruin your transmission completely. That’s why we are going to cover everything you need to know when it comes to diagnosing a transmission.

In this article, we are going to cover the basics and we will learn the types of transmissions. Then we will cover the question of what is transmission diagnostics. After we will answer the question of when do you need diagnostics and what this diagnostic involves since it is necessary for you to know what you are paying for. Lastly, we are going to cover the transmission diagnostic cost. So, let’s dive into it.

What Is A Transmission

A car transmission is also better known as a gearbox. This is a component that is key in delivering the power from your engine to the wheels. The transmission is a big converter of energy that has a very complex design and its goal is to deliver the power evenly to the wheels.

The transmission is converting the rotational energy from the crankshaft into torque. Then the torque is delivered to the driveshaft which spins the differential and makes your car move on the road.

There are two types of transmissions. There are manual transmissions in which the driver is going up through the gears manually by pressing and releasing the clutch. The clutch is the component that grips to the flywheel and spins. Once the clutch is disconnected you are able to shift gears. This process is necessary for every gear in your gearbox. It doesn’t matter if you upshift or downshift.

That’s why manuals are very tricky to drive and not many people in the US know how to drive them. They are usually bellowed by us the car enthusiasts.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost

The second type of transmission is an automatic transmission. The automatic transmission is shifting the gears by itself based on the gas input. These transmissions are the most common ones in the US and conclude the biggest percentage of cars that are on the roads in the US right now.

But this also means more problems caused by these transmissions. Automatics are very prone to issues and some of them can be a real nightmare to own and run.

In this case, if your transmission is showing some symptoms that are characteristic of a bad transmission will make you look for transmission diagnostics and transmission diagnostics cost. But what are transmission diagnostics? Let’s find out.

Transmission Diagnostic

Modern cars have a lot of technology packed into them and diagnosing issues today is much simpler than it was 30 or 40 years ago.

In the past, the mechanics could only rely on their experience when diagnosing a bad transmission and learning the symptoms that a bad transmission makes. Then based on these symptoms they made the conclusion that the transmission needed replacement or a rebuild.

Today, on the other hand, things are much different and easier to do. Mechanics still rely on their experience and knowledge accumulated with the long years of experience. But they also use some diagnostic tools that make their lives easier. And what are these diagnostic tools?

These diagnostic tools are mostly factory software that was intended to be used for that specific vehicle. Every car manufacturer has service software for their vehicles and soon after the mechanic at the dealership plugs the computer in the OBD2 port, he knows what is going on inside of your car.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the ability to get this factory diagnostic equipment. But there are still some aftermarket options and, on the market, there are a ton of OBD2 scanner tools that tell a lot of the issues as well.

They thus have this software along with the troubleshooting skills. It is a straightforward business for the mechanic to diagnose the problem with your transmission. We are also going to cover the symptoms of a bad transmission later in the article as well as the transmission diagnostics cost. But the key question is, when do you need a diagnostic performed on your vehicle? Let’s find out in the next chapter.

When To Diagnose For Problems

This is a good question. You should make your own decision when do you need diagnostics. Usually, diagnostics is needed when you are starting to experience symptoms with the transmission. The transmission is going to tell you when there is needed some checking to be performed. But we are going to cover the most common situations that you might consider for your vehicle.

The first and most common symptom that you will notice is the check engine light. The light by itself does not tell a lot when it comes to issues. But it knows to indicate a problem. You know that later you have to diagnose the problem and find the proper solution for it. If you have a check engine light you have to learn the transmission diagnostic cost to have a better idea of what to expect if you take your car to be diagnosed.

Other symptoms that can indicate a problem with the transmission are the noises coming from the transmission tunnel. This might resemble grinding, shuddering, and other issues. When noises start to come from the transmission, you know that something is really going down in your transmission. In these situations, you should not wait and start diagnosing the problem, learn the transmission diagnostic cost that we are going to cover later and take your car to be diagnosed or diagnose the problem by yourself with an OBD2 scanner.

Later in the article, we will go through all of the symptoms that are connected with a bad transmission and transmission that has to be diagnosed on a computer. This will be of great aid to you in finding a solution to your problem as soon as possible. But first, let’s learn what involves transmission diagnostics in the first place?

How To Diagnose A Transmission

This is another good question that deserves a proper answer. You should know what the diagnostics process involves because you are paying the transmission diagnostic cost and you deserve an answer on what are you are spending your money on.

The diagnostic process is a complex process that involves checking a lot of systems and components in your vehicle. The transmission is a complex component by itself but when diagnosing an issue with the transmission the car has to be connected to a computer and then the car has to be scanned for problems.

This might take a lot of time to do right and see what is really causing the issue. This is the case because there could be some errors reported by the car’s PCM but they do not indicate a clear correlation with the transmission in some cases. Sometimes even software problems can cause the transmission not to shift properly and cause a lot of headaches for you as a car owner.

The car is also taken on a test drive connected to a computer in some instances to read the values as the car drives and see what values the transmission is producing.

That’s why this process can take a lot of time and effort to get it done right. Another thing is the experience of the mechanic. During the test drive, the mechanic should also open his ears and hear what kind of noises or shifting issues that the car is producing.

Then, based on all of this data. the technician should make a conclusion about the problem. Then see what is causing all these issues. Lastly, he will give you an invoice for the transmission diagnostic cost. And he should give you some further information about your next steps.

How Long To Diagnose A Transmission

This process is demanding and can take a while to get your car diagnosed. Even though the diagnosing process can go fast, the mechanic could still ask you to come tomorrow to tell you how they diagnosed your car.

This is the case because the mechanics have a lot of work and they do not know how much time your specific car would take to get diagnosed.

In some shops, they can tackle these things quickly. But if your problem is a bit difficult to tell what is the real issue it can take a while. The mechanics will expose your car to a lot of stress tests in real-life conditions and see how the car behaves under these conditions.

Then they based on this data will determine what is going on inside of the transmission in your vehicle. Also, what are going to be the next steps that you will need to take to get the problem fixed once and for all?

When taking your car to a shop, make sure that they have significant experience with automatic transmissions and know the ins and outs of the specific transmission in your car.

For example, if you own a Jeep, you should take your car to a Jeep or Dodge place where they know these components and how they behave. This will guarantee that you will get your problem sorted quicker than for example, taking your car to a place where they work on BMWs.

But what about the transmission diagnostic cost? We are going to cover the costs later in the article after we finish the symptoms of a bad transmission and if you can perform this diagnosing task by yourself.

DIY Transmission Diagnostic

The short answer to this question is yes. You will be able to diagnose the problem with your car at home using common tools. For this, you will need an OBD2 scanner and also you need to know all of the symptoms of a bad transmission.

You can find an OBD2 scanner tool online for cheap. But you should not opt to go for the cheapest out there and try to find something more precise and better option.

An OBD2 scanner that can connect with a mobile phone via Bluetooth will be the best option. I’m saying this because these scanners offer far more options than those basic scanners that only tell you the codes and you have to look for them online.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost

Especially for this type of work with the transmission requires a lot of precision and the cheap scanner isn’t going to tell you a lot.

The more advanced scanner is going to share a lot of detail on the specific problem and will help you greatly to get your transmission sorted.

The second thing that you need to know is to know the symptoms of a bad transmission. And these symptoms we are going to cover these in the next chapter.

After learning the symptoms, you will be able to pinpoint the problem and avoid the transmission diagnostic cost, and take your car to get fixed immediately.

Symptoms Of A Bad Transmission

Now let’s see what the symptoms of a bad transmission are. As we mentioned above, knowing the symptoms of a bad transmission is key to diagnosing the problem quickly and avoiding paying the transmission diagnostic cost that you will pay if you decide to take your car to be diagnosed at a shop. So, what are the symptoms? Let’s find out.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost, Symptoms #1: Check Engine Light

The check engine light is probably one of the first symptoms that you will experience when your transmission goes bad on your vehicle.

This is the case because the transmission is closely connected with the computer and they share a lot of data among them. The computer knows when there is something wrong with the transmission and informs you of this issue.

The check engine light doesn’t tell a lot when it comes to the problem itself. It just tells you that you need to diagnose the problem and connect an OBD2 scanner to the vehicle to see.

If you don’t want to pay the transmission diagnostic cost, you can simply get an OBD2 scanner and scan the car for codes. Then you will be able to tell if there are some codes connected with the transmission and make your next step based on that information.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost, Symptoms #2: Noises Coming From The Transmission

Noises coming from the transmission are another sign of a bad transmission and based on the sounds that you get, you could tell if there is something wrong inside of the transmission. There are a couple of sounds that you are going to experience if you have this symptom.

There are whining sounds that happen at low speeds where the transmission has trouble shifting into a higher gear or these sounds occur when at a certain speed. The whining noise is mostly caused by a dirty transmission fluid and this has to be checked accordingly.

Another sound is the grinding sound. When transmission starts grinding then you know that something has failed inside and the gears have damage. In these situations, the only solution will be to open the transmission and rebuild it.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost, Symptoms #3: Vibrations In The Cabin

Vibrations in the cabin are another symptom that is connected with a bad transmission. But this doesn’t seem always to be the case. I’m saying this because in most cases when there are vibrations in the cabin that are coming from the transmission is caused by the bad transmission mounts.

These are the mounts on which the transmission is mounted and when they fail, they start to develop these symptoms that you experience in the cabin.

But they can also mean that there is something wrong inside of the transmission as well. So, you should not bring solutions to the problem too quickly. First, inspect the mounts, and then if they are bad replace them. If the problem is not solved, then it is highly likely a bad transmission issue.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost, Symptoms #4: Trouble Shifting

Problems with shifting also indicate a bad transmission issue. These problems are connected with hard shifting where the transmission shifts hard. Then there are problems with slipping gears and the transmission stuck into one gear.

All these problems indicate a bad transmission. The only way to tackle them will be to consider a transmission rebuild or replacing the transmission altogether. This can be caused even by some simple things like contaminated transmission fluid as well.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost, Symptoms #5: Burning Smell

A burning smell is also one of the common symptoms that you will experience if you have a bad transmission. But why the burning smell? This is the case because the transmission is overheating and the fluid is burning. This produces a burning smell inside of the cabin and you can sense it.

When you have a burning smell issue. It is of great importance to replace the transmission fluid in the vehicle and also the filter. This is the case because the fluid doesn’t travel freely inside of the transmission. This will result in an overheating problem.

If you don’t know how to tackle this problem. You can always take your car to a workshop where they will tackle the problem. You will pay a transmission diagnostic cost that we are going to cover in the next chapter. But you will be probably happy with the results. But what is the transmission diagnostic cost? Let’s find out.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost, Symptoms #6: Delayed Engagement

Ever experienced a momentary pause when shifting gears, especially from park to drive? That’s a sign of delayed engagement, a red flag signaling transmission issues. In normal circumstances, the transition should be smooth. A noticeable delay might imply a drop in transmission fluid level, a worn clutch, or a more severe underlying transmission problem. It’s crucial to consult a professional to avoid escalating damage.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost, Symptoms #7: Leaking Transmission Fluid

A common sign of transmission trouble is a leak. Spotting bright red, dark red, or brownish fluid underneath your car is a clear indication. Unlike motor oil, transmission fluid has a distinct sweet smell. If you notice such a leak, take action promptly. Ignoring it can result in significant damage due to insufficient lubrication, leading to overheating.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost, Symptoms #8: Unresponsive Transmission

When your car doesn’t react or hesitates when you attempt to shift gears, you’ve got an unresponsive transmission on your hands. This can happen while changing to drive or reverse. In manual transmissions, you might face difficulty in putting the car in gear. Such symptoms, if left unchecked, can further degenerate and result in a total transmission failure.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost, Symptoms #9: Erratic Shifts

Your car shouldn’t feel jumpy or unpredictable when shifting gears. If it does, you’re likely dealing with erratic shifts. This inconsistency, especially in automatic transmissions, can be caused by faulty transmission components, worn-out bands, or an electronic control module needing a reset. Quick intervention can save you from potentially costly repairs.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost, Symptoms #10: Unusual Transmission Fluid Appearance

The health and quality of the transmission fluid are paramount for the well-being of your transmission. Fresh fluid usually appears clear with a reddish hue. If it turns dark, murky, or has a burnt odor, there’s cause for concern. This could signal contamination, overheating, or the presence of metal shavings, all of which are bad news for your car’s transmission.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost, Symptoms #11: The Car Refuses to Go into Gear

For manual transmissions, the situation can be quite pronounced. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, the car just refuses to go into gear. Low fluid levels, the wrong fluid type, or an out-of-adjustment clutch linkage might be culprits. Don’t let this symptom persist; it can lead to an immobile car before you know it.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost, Symptoms #12: Surging or Lurching

Your vehicle should drive smoothly without unexpected jerks or surges. If it suddenly surges forward or lurches without any driver input, it’s a clear sign of transmission malfunction. Typically, uneven flow or erratic levels of transmission fluid can cause such unexpected movements. Ensuring fluid consistency and addressing any detected issue is essential.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost, Symptoms #13: Popping Out of Gear

When a car suddenly pops out of gear while you’re driving, it’s not just an inconvenience—it’s dangerous. This symptom can cause a total loss of vehicle control. Worn gears or a faulty linkage can often lead to this problem. Immediate professional inspection and intervention are vital to ensure driver safety.

In conclusion, recognizing and addressing these symptoms early can prevent further damage, save money, and ensure safety. Regular maintenance, such as checking fluid levels and annual inspections, can keep most of these issues at bay. Remember, when in doubt, always consult with a professional.

Transmission Diagnostic Cost

Now we came to the important part and that is the transmission diagnostics cost. We are going to dissect the costs involved in the diagnostics problem and what you should expect from this job. So, let’s begin.

If you decide to take your car to a shop to get it diagnosed. The least amount that you will pay is $100, if the problem is easily diagnosed. If the problem requires a few hours of work you may end up paying $500 or more in some instances.

This is the case because the average labor for one hour is between $50 and $100. So, the more hours involved in diagnosing the issue, the more expensive it is going to be.

On the other hand, if you diagnose the problem on your own. You might only pay around $80 for the OBD2 scanner tool. But most of the shops will require to diagnose the car by themselves so, it’s better to leave all of the work to be done by the shop.

It is useful to have the OBD2 tool for a good measure. It will help you out immensely to not get ripped off by some shops. There are shops that ask for a lot of cash for something that isn’t the real problem.

You should also be aware of these types of companies that their only goal is to rip you off. Make sure that you read all the reviews on that specific company and learn more about their business if you don’t want to be ripped off.

Transmission Diagnostic Facts:

  1. To repair a vehicle, a mechanic needs to know what is wrong with it, and this often involves performing a general diagnostic, which includes a transmission diagnostic in case of transmission issues.
  2. A transmission diagnostic is essentially a routine through which a mechanic will observe the transmission to determine which components need repairs or replacements.
  3. Dealerships charge a flat rate fee for diagnostic work that starts at $115 up to $200, which is higher than the cost of getting a transmission diagnostic performed by a regular mechanic.
  4. Older cars require a more in-depth and less accurate process for transmission diagnostics than modern cars due to the lack of computerized systems.
  5. Thanks to powertrain control modules and engine control units in modern cars, transmission diagnostics have become more accurate and less reliant on guesswork.
  6. Mechanics use an onboard diagnostic scanner (OBD2) to diagnose problems with a car’s transmission and get a diagnostic code that directs them to the exact area of the transmission that has a problem.
  7. The main components checked during a transmission diagnostic include transmission fluid levels, initial transmission engagement, upshift timing, downshift timing, and other performance aspects.
  8. The time it takes for a transmission diagnosis depends on the level of service requested and can range from 1 hour to 4 hours.
  9. Signs of a bad transmission include a burning smell, unusual sounds, trouble switching gears, slipping gears, leaking transmission fluid, shaking, and a check engine light.
  10. While it’s possible to do your own transmission diagnostic using an OBD2 scanner, a mechanic’s extensive diagnostic and expertise may be necessary for a more accurate diagnosis and repair of transmission problems.

In Conclusion…

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to diagnosing a bad transmission. We have learned the basics of what is the transmission and what is its job.

Then we have covered the diagnosing process. And what you can expect if you take your car to be diagnosed at a shop.

Then we have covered all of the symptoms of a bad transmission if you decide to diagnose the problem by yourself. It is useful to know the symptoms of a bad transmission. They are going to help you immensely to make a conclusion of what could go wrong.

And lastly, we have covered the transmission diagnostic cost. This is also good to know if you don’t want to get ripped off by mechanics.

You may also like

Leave a Comment