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  #1  
Old 01-12-2010, 01:03 PM
handsomeharry handsomeharry is offline
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How long does it take to rebuild a transmission?

I used to work at a transmission reman plant. It had about a million mechanical people there, working at kind of low wages. I talked to one of them, and he told me that he used to own his own transmission shop. He said that it only took about 45 minutes to rebuild one, but that most shops usually kept them a minimum of three days, just so they could justify the vast sums of cash that they charged. So, what's the Straight Dope?

Thanks,
hh
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  #2  
Old 01-12-2010, 01:24 PM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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It depends on what you mean by "rebuild" too. I know someone who used to work at a transmission shop and he said that they don't do a complete rebuild like you'd expect. Instead, they would just take it apart and fix the broken bits, which my friend didn't agree with but it wasn't his shop. This obviously wouldn't take as long as a full rebuild either.

When all you do is rebuild transmissions you can do it pretty quickly. Although I don't know exactly how long "pretty quickly" is, I never thought that it was three days worth of labor. I thought the delays were due to time that the transmission sits on a shelf waiting in line for ones ahead of it to get done plus time spent waiting for parts that had to be ordered.

If the actual labor time was a couple of hours or less I wouldn't be all that surprised.
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Old 01-12-2010, 01:30 PM
Booker57 Booker57 is offline
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I did the remove and replace on a few early '80's Gm RWD cars. I would pull a tranny and have it on the rebuild bench by 9am. Around 1pm the rebuild was done and I could put it back in. We were a good sized dealership and had a large parts dept. Today a factory reman unit is in stock. Two maybe three hour turnaround time.
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  #4  
Old 01-12-2010, 01:30 PM
Saintly Loser Saintly Loser is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by handsomeharry View Post
I used to work at a transmission reman plant. It had about a million mechanical people there, working at kind of low wages. I talked to one of them, and he told me that he used to own his own transmission shop. He said that it only took about 45 minutes to rebuild one, but that most shops usually kept them a minimum of three days, just so they could justify the vast sums of cash that they charged. So, what's the Straight Dope?

Thanks,
hh
Don't know. I've never rebuilt a car transmission. I have rebuilt motorcycle transmissions, which are considerably less complex than an automatic transmission.

I will say this. Assuming it's true that it only takes 45 minutes to rebuild a tranny (which I doubt very much), that would not include the time involved in removing the transmission and replacing it.

There is a ripoff element in transmission "rebuilds", since a typical tranny shop isn't rebuilding your transmission, they're replacing it with a remanufactured tranny they either have in stock or have ordered for you. They're just swapping it out, really, like any other part. But yes, they're charging an arm and a leg for that.
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  #5  
Old 01-12-2010, 01:55 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
It depends on what you mean by "rebuild" too. I know someone who used to work at a transmission shop and he said that they don't do a complete rebuild like you'd expect. Instead, they would just take it apart and fix the broken bits, which my friend didn't agree with but it wasn't his shop. This obviously wouldn't take as long as a full rebuild either.
I don't know shit about rebuilding anything. What would you expect them to do, if not just replace broken parts?
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  #6  
Old 01-12-2010, 02:12 PM
HorseloverFat HorseloverFat is offline
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Im not a mechanic but Ive watched someone rebuild a tranny before. Typically rebuilding means keeping the case and other viable parts and just replacing the insides with a kit. If you look at this tutorial this guy just part of the tranny:

http://izook.com/tech/samurai/drivet...nny/tranny.htm

The labor is in taking in apart and replacing the bad parts. Not necessarily in just removing and reinstalling it, although thats a fair amount of time too.

Im not sure if they do complete replacements and call them rebuilds as some have suggested. That seems crazy to me, as Id rather have a factory new part than something taken apart and put back together again. I imagine rebuilds are still rebuilds and the 30 minute replacement theory is a bit of exaggeration.

Last edited by HorseloverFat; 01-12-2010 at 02:16 PM..
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  #7  
Old 01-12-2010, 03:29 PM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
I don't know shit about rebuilding anything. What would you expect them to do, if not just replace broken parts?
Just replacing the broken parts is "repairing" not "rebuilding". When you do a rebuild, you not only replace the broken parts but you replace the parts that are likely to wear out. So if it has springs, springs tend to lose their springiness and get replaced during a rebuild even if they aren't broken. If there's a gear that tends to fail because it's teeth wear off, it gets replaced even if the teeth aren't quite worn to the point of uselessness yet. A bearing that is likely to fail gets replaced. That sort of thing. I've never rebuilt a transmission so I cant' say what parts they actually replace, but that's the general idea.

A transmission that was fixed isn't expected to carry a warranty. After all, the only parts they replaced were the ones that were broken. You still have lots of old parts in there that could be near the end of their life and are likely to break.

A rebuild replaces a lot more parts, so it is expected to cost more. It's also expected to carry a warranty. The warranty won't be as good as a new transmission because there are still some old parts in there, but it's a lot better than just a fixed transmission.

The problem is that some folks are "repairing" transmissions and selling them as "rebuilt" transmissions. It costs the customer more money and, even though a warranty is provided, it isn't going to actually be as reliable as a true rebuild. They just figure that the extra money they make from selling it as a rebuild will cover the cost of the warranty work they have to do.

I don't know how widespread this is, but my friend (who worked in the business) seemed to think that it was very common these days. He only truly had knowledge of one company though.
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  #8  
Old 01-12-2010, 03:35 PM
pan1 pan1 is offline
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Car Repair shops have a computer program. It tells them how much labor is expected for a given repair - for estimate purposes. No matter how long the repair takes, more or less than the expected time, you are charged for the labor on the estimate.

If the program says it will take 10.5 hours of labor to rebuild/reinstall a tranny, and the mechanic does it in 4, you get billed 10.5.
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  #9  
Old 01-12-2010, 04:16 PM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by handsomeharry View Post
I used to work at a transmission reman plant. It had about a million mechanical people there, working at kind of low wages. I talked to one of them, and he told me that he used to own his own transmission shop. He said that it only took about 45 minutes to rebuild one, but that most shops usually kept them a minimum of three days, just so they could justify the vast sums of cash that they charged. So, what's the Straight Dope?

Thanks,
hh
He's exaggerating on several levels.

It may be that some really sharp, experienced mechanics could rebuild an older simpler style automatic tranny in 45 minutes once it was on the workbench (though I find it questionable), but I don't see that as possible in doing a conscientious rebuild of a modern automatic. As mentioned, he's clearly not talking about the time for the whole job including removing and replacing the unit, diagnosis/evaluation, and test-driving before and after, and I interpret that as a lie of omission for the purpose of bolstering an invalid point.

As far as keeping the car for three days for psychological effect, I call bullshit. I've been in the auto repair field for over 35 years, including working at a shop that specialized in transmission repair, and have never heard of this (not saying no one does it, but certainly not most shops). The "billable time" for most tranny overhauls is less than two days, so there's no point in keeping it for three to "justify" the charges, and it's actually a moot point since it's billed by the job and not by the clock. Three days (or more) might be required to accomodate acquiring certain parts and/or to fit the shop's workflow, but not to create a false impression in the customer's mind.

I'd be very skeptical of the factual accuracy of anything this fellow says.
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  #10  
Old 01-12-2010, 04:19 PM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
Just replacing the broken parts is "repairing" not "rebuilding".
If the unit is fully disassembled, it's rebuilding. Repairing is fixing a portion of it, e.g. replacing the seals or a solenoid or the valve body.

Quote:
When you do a rebuild, you not only replace the broken parts but you replace the parts that are likely to wear out.
That's remanufacturing.
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