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How much does it cost to repair a gearbox?

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 1 year ago

5 min read

  • Advice
  • Repair
Gearbox Image

WhoCanFixMyCar breaks down the cost of repairing a gearbox

If you want to understand more about gearbox problems and find out what may be causing your car to break down, we have created this in-depth guide covering all of the issues surrounding gearbox repair and replacement.

How does a gearbox work?

The gearbox is an intricate piece of machinery. A number of different things can go wrong with your gearbox because it has many moving parts which are in constant contact with each other.

As a driver, you'll know that unless you drive an automatic, you can only change gear once you have pushed the clutch down.

Once the clutch is engaged, the gearbox can switch from one rotor to the next, and the linkage transfers power from the engine through the gears and onto the car wheels.

As the image above demonstrates, there are a large number of moving parts which create friction and heat - it is this that ultimately causes car parts to be worn down. Consequently, it is inevitable that repairs or a total replacement will eventually be required.

The most important factor to remember is that if you spot the early signs of a problem you can save yourself a huge amount of money!

Early signs of gearbox problems

Slipping gears

If you are putting your car into gear, only for it to slip out, it’s more than likely that you have a fault. The most common cause is that the gears themselves will be worn down.

You will have to have the parts replaced as failure to do so will only make the problem worse. It would also be useful to check your transmission fluid levels as the parts may have worn down as a result of low levels of lubricants.

Noisy while in neutral

Low levels of transmission fluid can be the reason for the problem. If you are hearing more noise than usual from your car while it is neutral, then check the levels of fluid and try topping it up. If this does not resolve the problem, then the most likely cause will be worn down gearbox parts.

The 'check engine' light is on

As soon as you see ‘Service Engine Soon’ in yellow on your dashboard, that is exactly what you should do, as it is an indicator that something is about to go wrong (or already has).

There are a variety of sensors on different parts of your car including ones on the transmission. They are in place to detect specific signs of an issue developing such as vibrations or jerks which you may not be able to see, hear or feel. Paying attention to the light could help you save money on a gearbox repair so make sure to do so.

Dragging clutch

A dragging clutch is caused when the flywheel and clutch fail to disengage which makes changing gears almost impossible. This gearbox problem will likely be accompanied by a grinding noise being emitted every time you try to change gears.

If the clutch has too much slack in the pedal then the linkage between the clutch disk and the pedal wont be able to pull the two parts apart. Therefore, the linkage simply needs to be tightened or replaced which you will be pleased to hear isn't as expensive as other gearbox repairs.

Won't go into gear

If your car simply refuses to go into a specific gear it is worth checking the transmission fluid levels. If low, this problem can often be resolved by topping the liquid up.

There are other potential issues that could prevent you being able to get into a specific gear. Sometimes it can be the on-board computer or alternatively the shift cables could just need adjusting.

Burning smell

burning smell in a car is never a good sign, so when it comes to the gearbox, a burning smell can be the result of transmission fluid overheating. If the fluid system fails, then other parts of the system will suffer as a result.

Transmission fluid acts as lubricant and a cooling agent for the moving parts of a transmission. As they are in constant perpetual motion as a car is being driven, this causes friction and a build-up of heat. Therefore a lack of transmission fluid will be harmful to these parts and a burning smell will be emitted. If you ignore the burning smell then an entire transmission replacement is likely to be required.

Shaking or grinding

A car should not grind or shake at all so do not think that its normal - even if it is gradual. If ignored the issue will get worse and you will end up incurring a higher gearbox repair cost. Grinding and shaking is a common symptom of a faulty gearbox when you move from one gear to the next.

There may even be an issue with the clutch if you feel these effects after you change gears. If so it is likely that your clutch will need replacing. The gear synchronizers in your car may be also be badly damaged or worn down if you feel shaking or grinding.

Leaking and low fluid levels

The transmission system can only operate while automatic transmission fluid lubricates, cleans and conditions the seals. Even if the transmission fluid is below normal levels, your car will suffer and if it all leaks, you will face serious problems.

Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) is bright red and, surprisingly, smells sweet (that is if everything is in working order). If you detect a leak and the fluid fits this description then you are in luck, all that you require is a hole to be filled.

However, if you come across liquid which is dark and emits a burning smell then the issue is likely to be worse. Typically, this will require the entire transmission system to be flushed or changed as it has become contaminated and is no longer suitable for use in the engine.

Whining, clunking or humming noises

Hearing a strange noise from your car is probably the best way to know that something isn’t right.

The biggest indicator that your gearbox has an issue will be if you hear a clunking noise when you shift gears which sound mechanical, abrupt and loud.

The same can be said of automatic gearboxes, if you notice a clunking noise as you accelerate, slow down or drive on an incline.

Even if the noise sounds severe, it may only be a minor issue. However, it will turn into a major one if you do not diagnose the transmission problem and get it treated.

How much gearbox repairs cost*

We work with a network of thousands of garages across the UK in order to be able to find you the most competitive gearbox prices. Below you will find the average cost of a new gearbox replacement in your local area.

LocationAverage Price

*This table uses data from quotes provided on WhoCanFixMyCar between 07/07/2021 and 05/10/2021

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