Transmission replacement time can vary greatly between vehicle models and driveline types. There’s no one size fits all answer to this question. But, by focusing on the two types of driveline you’ll be working on, it’s possible to get a better idea of what you’ll be getting into.
The two main driveline types are front and rear wheel drive. They are completely different. Rear wheel drive is much easier to work on.
Rear wheel drive: A few hours
Front wheel drive: Varies, but even an experienced mechanic could spend most of their working day on one car.
We’ll try and break it down by the basic driveline types and explain why front wheel drive is so much more difficult:
How Long to Replace a Rear Wheel Drive Transmission
For the most part, it’s way easier to replace the transmission in a rear wheel drive vehicle. Even if you’ve never done it before, you could do it in a single night. For someone who knows what they’re doing, it shouldn’t take more than a few hours.
Rear wheel drive transmission replacement is much easier than front wheel because there’s more room to work, and you shouldn’t need to pull the motor or unbolt the motor mounts. There’s a pretty simple formula it is the same for all rear wheel drive cars it is as follows:
- Jack the vehicle hight enough to get the transmission out from under it
- Undo the speedometer cable and/or wiring harness
- Disconnect the shift cable/linkage
- Remove the driveshaft
- Pull the starter
- Connect the transmission jack
- Disconnect the torque converter bolts
- Disconnect the bellhousing bolts
- Disconnect the crossmember
- Lower the transmission down.
That really should only take about an hour or two if you know what you’re doing and have plenty of room to work. Every vehicle is different. Make sure you are safe. Try and avoid ever being directly below the transmission at any point. NEVER put your head below it when you are loosening the bell housing bolts. It’ll drop a lot of the time and can crush your skull. Safety first.
YouTube is your best friend when working on a vehicle. The odds are super good that someone has filmed doing exactly what you are trying to do. For instance, here’s a guy pulling the transmission from his Silverado. See what goes into it. It’s not that bad.
How Long to Replace a Front Wheel Drive Transmission
I prefer driving rear wheel drive vehicles for reasons like this. It can take significantly longer to replace a transmission on a rear wheel drive vehicle. If you’ve never done it before, plan on using a whole weekend. Make sure that you do as much homework and research as you can before going into it.
It is important to do as much research as possible with a front wheel drive vehicle. There are so many more variables that are involved. Including:
- You may need to pull the whole engine
- Disconnecting the exhaust
- Remove starter
- Removing axle shafts
- Motor mounts
There’s just so much more that needs disconnected than a few simple bolts. And there are so many more things that can go wrong. The sheer volume of wiring and items that need moved out of the way can be daunting. We recommend taking the vehicle to a mechanic unless you are extremely skilled and competent with your ability to work on a car.