Jessica Sautter has a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education with a Major in Reading and a Minor in Mathematics.

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Written by Jessica Sautter
Content Writer Jessica Sautter

Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around auto insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Reviewed by Natasha McLachlan
Content Writer Natasha McLachlan

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2020

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Car insurance is a complex subject. There are many different types of policy, and it’s not always clear what each policy covers. One thing that many people find themselves wondering is if their car insurance covers transmission repairs.

The transmission is one of the most extensive and most expensive parts of the car. When your transmission stops working, the cost of a repair can skyrocket. Auto insurance policies, especially basic ones, often do not cover the cost of transmission repair and replacement or only include them under specific circumstances.

How Often Do Transmissions Fail?

Modern transmissions are quite elaborate and are made that way to maximize fuel economy. The complexity has benefits but can also mean that people need to make more trips to the repair shop.

According to the Consumer Reports’ Annual Reliability Survey, transmission problems are particularly common in Honda, Jeep, and Nissan brands. Meanwhile, Lexus and Toyota, which tend to use older transmissions, often perform better in terms of transmission reliability.

In June 2019:

The Ford F-150 was recalled for a transmission issue. In a gaffe so strange that you would think it was made up, this is the second recall of the 2013 model of the F-150 pickup truck, and it affected 107,850 trucks. Ford recalled the trucks earlier, intending to fix transmissions that were shifting into first gear unexpectedly.

Unfortunately, when they made the recall, they installed faulty software into the trucks, so they still have transmission problems.

Issues such as these are not covered by standard insurance. If you’re looking to avoid trouble, make sure that you pick a car or truck known for reliability, and take good care of it.

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How Much Does Transmission Repair Cost?

Transmissions are complex. Automatic transmissions shift gears without requiring input from the driver, and this means that there’s a lot ‘going on’ with them; they are not easy for a DIY motor enthusiast to repair.

Here is some numbers…

Because transmissions are so complex, they are expensive to fix. The average cost of transmission replacement can be between $1800 and $3400, depending on the type of vehicle. If you replace your transmission with a used or salvaged one, then the cost of the part can be $800 to $1500 — the price increases for rebuilt or remanufactured parts.

There are labor costs, too. You can expect to pay $500 to $1200 in labor, with billed time being 4 to 10 hours depending on the complexity of the job. Rebuilds can sometimes be cheaper than replacements, but that is not always the case.

Manual transmission replacement can be less expensive than automatic transmission replacement, since simply replacing the clutch often solves the problems with the transmission. Even then, the job can cost around $1000.

What Happens if Your Transmission is Damaged in An Accident?

The idea behind auto insurance is that if your vehicle is damaged in an accident, then the insurance company will cover the cost of the repairs. In a lot of cases, this will include cover for if the transmission is damaged.

For example,

If you are driving down the road and another vehicle strikes your car. If you were not at fault, and the accident causes damage to the transmission, then you may be able to put in a claim.

To be able to claim, a mechanic would need to state that the damage to the transmission was wholly due to the accident. The insurance company of the at-fault driver will pay for the damage to the transmission. In some cases, you may end up just getting a check that will help you purchase a new vehicle.

If you collide with a stationary object and damage the transmission of your car, you would be the one who was at fault. If you have collision insurance, you may be able to claim that. You would lose your no-claims bonus; however, you may decide that it is worthwhile since transmission repairs are expensive.

What About Other Common Perils

There are some other examples of perils where transmission might be covered, for example:

  • If the vehicle is vandalized and the transmission is damaged as a result.
  • If a parked vehicle is hit hard enough to push it forward, and the transmission is damaged because the car was forced to move while in an incorrect gear.
  • If there is a flood, and the transmission is damaged because the vehicle was submerged in water.

For your transmission to be covered by this kind of damage, you would need to have an insurance policy which covers that type of peril.

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When Would Transmission Damage Not Be Covered?

There are several scenarios where an insurance company might refuse to payout. For example, if you are involved in an accident and a mechanic says that the crash was caused because you did not maintain your vehicle properly then damage to your transmission might not be covered.

To avoid experiencing such denial of coverage, you should take good care of your vehicle.

Are Breakdowns Covered?

One common misconception is that “full cover” policies will cover everything that could possibly go wrong with a car. That is not the case.

If you’re just driving along the freeway and your transmission fails on you, then your car insurance cannot help. Car insurance is for accidents, and if you have opted to pay for it, for things like theft or fire damage. Car insurance does not cover breakdowns.

If you aren’t sure what your car insurance covers, read the policy. This will lay out all of the perils that are covered. Some policies will specifically exclude certain issues, but even if they do not exclude the transmission, if breakdowns aren’t listed as a peril, it’s clear that you will not be covered.

Breakdown coverage is something that is normally included in car warranties or in mechanical breakdown insurance, which is a different kind of policy.

Mechanical breakdown insurance can be expensive, with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, but it is well worth it for a motorist that wants to get back on the road fast in the event of an accident.

Just like car insurance, mechanical breakdown insurance has a deductible. This is usually fairly low, however, and makes it worth claiming because the deductible will be less than the cost of a lot of common repairs, and far less than paying for the cost of a new transmission.

Transmissions which fail as a result of general wear and tear are not covered. You should take good care of your vehicle to avoid such failures.

Avoiding Transmission Troubles

It’s a good idea to periodically check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website to make sure that there are no open recalls for your vehicle. Also, pay attention to the manufacturer’s website as well.

If your car has a service schedule, stick to it. Take good care of it between servicings, and drive responsibly.

Remember that

There is no such thing as ‘full’ insurance. There are insurance policies which offer more than the bare minimum mandated by the state you drive in, but even those more comprehensive policies still have limits.

Do not bank on your insurance to cover everything that could go wrong with your car. There are many areas where you need additional protection, and things like breakdown cover and MBI policies are a good starting point for protecting yourself from unexpected and potentially painful expenses. A few hundred dollars a year is worthwhile to protect you from bills that could hit thousands.