Transmission on its way out the door. What to do?

Discussion in 'Trucks and Trailers' started by tyler_mott85, Dec 16, 2011.


What to do about transmission going out

  1. Used Transmission Swap - No guarantee of life of transmission

    6 vote(s)
  2. New/Rebuilt transmission - Stuck with truck for additional 3 to 5 years

    7 vote(s)
  3. Replace Truck - Will not get truck I ideally want for mowing with.

    0 vote(s)
  4. What other options do ya got for me?

    1 vote(s)
  1. tyler_mott85

    tyler_mott85 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 582

    Have a 1993 1/2 ton Chevy 2wd and the transmission is on its way out the door for a long, permanent vacation. I've done some research and have gathered some prices for the various options and here's what I've come up with from cheapest to most expensive.

    1.) Gather salvaged, used transmission for $350-$450 and replace transmission with plan to sell truck and upgrade next fall/winter. Pro: Cheapest, easiest quick fix. Con: No guarantee that new to me transmission won't want vacation half way through the summer.

    2.) Purchase rebuilt transmission slightly upgraded and heavy duty converter to handle the little bit of towing I do. $1000 to $1500 and plan on keeping the truck for the next 2 to 3 years to get use out of it. Will also have to put about another $500 into the truck to get 3-ish years out of it Pro: Won't have transmission problems. Probably the most bang for the buck. Con: This is a reg cab truck. We have a new baby on the way due in march so with three kids and a wife we can't all fit in it. Granted. The two three year olds and the wife and I can't fit in it now so what's one more kiddo left behind? Other Con is this after all is a 2wd half ton truck. Upgrading the transmission only leaves other things to go wrong as my business grows and the load I pull around gets heavier.

    3.) Get what money I can get out of the truck and trade it in on a crew cab half ton truck in the $12,000 to $15,000 range. Pro: Less chance of major mechanical failure in the next 4 to 5 years when I can go full time and upgrade to a 3/4 ton truck. Con: Most expensive, would have to give up 4x4 to get the crew cab in my price range. Would then become the family vehicle leaving us with a less than wonderful 2001 VW Beetle as the other car. I don't have a lot of faith in that vehicle as I've only been around it for about 6 months and it has weird things about it (door wiring, random check engine lights no one can get figured out, etc.)

    My wife and I's original plan was to get a larger family vehicle with the Beetle for a trade in and I use the truck for the next year or two until my business can pay for an upgrade. But now with this...I don't know with a salvage transmission if I want to trust the truck to last until my business can upgrade.

    I'm leaning towards new/rebuilt transmission and holding onto the truck for the next 3 to 4 years and still use the beetle as a trade in. Unfortunately money for the new transmission would have to come out of down payment money for the family vehicle.

    Safest bet would probably be the newer truck. I just don't like the idea of having to leave the truck with the wife to be able to move the kids around and then have to change out so I can mow after my day job.

    What do you think?
  2. djagusch

    djagusch LawnSite Platinum Member
    from MN
    Messages: 4,350

    A tranny can go out of a 12 to 15k truck as easily as your current one.

    I would buy a salvage yard tranny and install it myself. Most come with a 30 to 90 warranty. If you get a bad one you will know shortly after installing. Make sure you flush the cooler and lines. You can do this twice and be less than the rebuild. Odds are if the salvage yard tranny has lower miles it should last your 3 yr window you wanted with the rebuild. If you can replace one with some buddies help that is the way to go.

    Maybe fix the other $500 dollars in repairs also with the money saved. Then go get the family vehicle.
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  3. knox gsl

    knox gsl LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,107

    I agree 100%. I have bought a salvage yard trany and used it for well over 100K and it was fine when I sold the car. Do make sure to change the filter and flush it well. While you have it out install your upgraded torque converter.
  4. unkownfl

    unkownfl LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,837

    I wouldn't rebuild a 4l60e or 700r4. It's a waste of time. Get a turbo 350 or turbo 400 and do it right the first time and have less money than a rebuild. Getting a rebuild for 1000 with them pulling it and upgrades I would question it sounds way cheap. Getting a lower mileage used 4l60e transmission any day over a rebuild. a 4l80e is a better transmission if you can find one and should work too. Like I said again a 4l60e rebuilt is garbage you will be taking it back for soft parts going bad every few months. The case wears out. Any salvage place will have a 30 day warranty and you can do the transmission yourself with a haynes manual pretty ease if you can handle working on things. If you go the rebuilt way any shop is going to say its a different reason and dance around to squeeze you for money every time even though they have a warranty. The only warranty worth a damn is the manufacture.
  5. tyler_mott85

    tyler_mott85 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 582

    Thanks for the replies. It's hard for me to have the mind set that I have the potential to get a transmission out of a vehicle with only 50k miles or less. In my head I always think of used parts as having the same miles as mine or more and just a ticking time bomb. But I suppose you all are correct if I can get a lightly used one and put the Heavy Duty torque converter in and throw in a shift kit or something to aid in the light towing I do while it's out it would be fairly easy.

    As for the $1000 for the rebuilt that was the prices I was looking at for purchasing a totally rebuilt transmission either locally or over the web and installing it myself. I am able to replace the transmission with the help of a friend and I figure will save me around $1000 in labor costs to have a shop do it. The transmission I was thinking of...,-1pc-Case-2WD.html
    I don't have any previous knowlege of Monster Trans but compared to some other builds I was looking at it seemed economical for the extra toughness.

    I understand that the 4l60e transmission is not a tough transmission. Used in everything from s-10s to corvettes/camaros so putting one in a full size truck and towing with it is going to take it's toll. My truck currently has 156k on it and the transmission is going out. Probably more to do with the way I drove it with big BFG ATs for about 40k miles about 60k miles ago when I was younger. I have only towed with it the last 3 months and that is only a 6x12 trailer with a walk behind on it.

    I guess in my head to get a new/rebuilt transmission I could have resale value in the transmission and the engine only have 75k on it (again, being dumb when I was younger). The rest of the truck is not worth much. Bent frame, no smooth body panel on the thing, etc.

    So yeah I guess I could get a deal on a transmission from a salvage yard and put a few hundred into it and at least protect it a bit more. Better Torque Converter, shift kit, better cooler, etc.

    Thanks again, keep the ideas/suggestions coming!
  6. ecurbthims

    ecurbthims LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 493

    I am a licenced mechanic and have been since 1982 .The tranny in your truck can be swapped easily at home ,or at a shop in only a few hours .I have never bought a junkyard tranny where the junkyard didnt claim low mileage ,I dont beleive their claims of mileage and the truth is ,they dont know if the tranny is good or bad since they dont drive the vehicles they part out .Anything mechanical at a junkyard is truly a crapshoot .
    I currently own a few trucks like yours ,and just recently redid my 97 chevy plow truck .The box had a massive dent in it from hitting a guardrail last winter ,the right front fender was rotten ,the windshield was broken ,and a few other things needed some attention .I was able to do all this work for free other than my time .I bought a 92 two wheel drive truck ,mint body,badly knocking engine for $250.00 that I was able to drive home [this allows me to confirm the tranny worked great,but I didnt need it or keep it unfortunately] ,swap the box ,fenders,windshield ,wiper motor onto my plow truck ,and take the rad,doors,hood and grille and install them
    onto my 96 2wd truck ,then brought the remains to the scrapyard where I was payed $295.00 for the steel parts ,and got another $120.00 for the aluminum bits I had cut out .
    My point is,you can possibly find the same deal as me on another truck ,strip it for everything your truck requires ,get your money back from a scrapyard [I actually profitted almost $200.00 bucks on this one ] and had it completed in less than a weekend ]As mentioned earlier ,I was able to drive the truck home so I knew the tranny was fine although was never planning on using it .
  7. jsslawncare

    jsslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,673

    I was thinking the same thing. My vote -4L80. Then keep driving it.
  8. unkownfl

    unkownfl LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,837

    I normally pull the trans at the junk yard at a u pull it place. I look for the nicest truck that ran into something. usually you can see the mileage if it isn't a digital odometer.
  9. ecurbthims

    ecurbthims LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 493

    I dont have any yards like that at my disposal ,but sounds like a pretty good plan as well .Buying a whole cheap truck ,should still be cheaper [mine was even cheaper than free in the end ],and in his case ,he said his truck was beat-up ,he can possibly find a ton of other parts he can use to fix his up a little bit .He might even be able to sell some of the unneaded parts seperately as these trucks are still popular .It may also be the case,that his current truck will end up being worse than the doner he picks up ,in which case he can strip his old truck to repair whats needed .
  10. djagusch

    djagusch LawnSite Platinum Member
    from MN
    Messages: 4,350

    Your idea is good, but if he lives in a apartment he can't have a parts vehicle laying around. Heck my wife when we lived in town most likely would veto the idea unless everything fit in the garage. Point is it might not be an option.

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