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How to Sell?

How to Sell Car With Bad Transmission?

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Written by: Michael Becker
Last Updated:

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Quick Answer:

The fastest and safest way to sell a car with a bad transmission is to sell it online to Peddle, Wheelzy or CarBrain. You will get paid within 24-48 hours, pay no fees and avoid paperwork hassle.

Additionally, you can consider selling a car privately, to the dealership, or to the salvage yard. Keep in mind that this option will take more time.

Key Takeaways:

  • Sell Online for Fast and Easy Process: online car-buying services like Peddle, Wheelzy, or CarBrain are especially beneficial for cars with bad transmissions.
  • Other Selling Options: selling the car privately or to a dealership may yield a higher return, but they usually require more time and effort compared to online sales.
  • Know Your Car’s Value: before selling, estimate the car’s value considering its make, model, mileage, overall condition, and the impact of the bad transmission on its worth.
  • Prepare for Sale Adequately: ensure all necessary paperwork is in order, and consider getting the car inspected to inform potential buyers about the extent of transmission issues.

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Ways to Sell a Car With a Bad Transmission:

1. Sell Car Online

The fastest, most convenient and easiest way to sell a car, no matter its condition, mileage or cost of repairs, is through online car-buying services.

To sell a car with a bad transmission online:

  1. Fill out the online form – provide car details (make, model, VIN, etc), mileage, and describe the condition.
  2. Accept the cash offer – you will get an instant cash offer, which will be valid for 7 days.
  3. Schedule car pickup – the company will pick up your car from a specified location within 48 hours. This service is completely free.
  4. Provide signed Certificate of Title – at the time of car’s pickup, provide Title to a representative. The company will take care of the ownership transfer.
  5. Get paid – you will get paid at the time of the car’s pickup, usually by check or cash.

Best companies to sell a car online:

who buys used cars running or not

2. Sell Car Privately

On average, it takes 52 days to sell a used car to a private buyer. This is considering the vehicle is in good condition or requires minor repairs.

Selling a car with bad transmission might take even longer unless you set the price competitively low, but in this case, you experience a major loss compared to the time invested.

Steps for selling a car privately:

  1. Find the Estimate of the Car’s Value
  2. Gather the Required Paperwork
  3. Prepare the Car
  4. Take Great Photos
  5. Post Detailed Ad
  6. Screen Potential Buyers
  7. Arrange Test Drives
  8. Agree on a Safe Payment Method
  9. Sign the Bill of Sale
  10. Transfer Title
  11. Inform DMV about the Sale
  12. Cancel Insurance

Best places to sell a car privately:

how to sell a car privately

3. Sell Car to Dealership

Selling a car to a dealership might sound like a good option, but it has a few flaws, the main of them being the value of the offer.

The dealership will need to deduct the cost of bad transmission repairs while still making a profit, leaving you with a much lower sale price.

Depending on your car’s make, model, year and mileage, most dealers won’t offer you more than $500 – $1,500.

To have leverage and get yourself a fair deal:

  • Know the value of your car – find similar car listings on eBay Motors, Autotrader or Craigslist. To get a better idea of dealership offer estimates, use Kelley Blue Book car’s valuation tool.
  • Set your lowest offer – calculate and decide how low you are able to set the price.
  • Get multiple offers – when you have several different quotes, negotiating the price can be much easier as each of the dealers is keen to make a deal and will likely try to beat the competition and offer you more.
  • Do not hesitate to walk away – if you feel that the offer is not fair, just walk away. There are plenty of other dealers that will be willing to pay you more.

4. Sell Car to a Salvage Yard

If your car is in extremely poor condition, you can consider selling to a salvage yard.

Salvage yards are interested in the metal content of car parts and purchase various parts to recycle the metal, making it a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional waste disposal.

The most valuable parts of the car:

  • Engine (contains iron, steel, aluminum, and copper)
  • Transmission (contains iron, steel, and aluminum)
  • Catalytic converter (contains platinum, palladium, and rhodium)
  • Battery (contains lead)

The value of the offer you get depends on the car’s make, model, and it’s parts condition and demand. The rarity of the part and current market values of the metals will impact the offer as well.

sell car to salvage yard

What is the Safest Payment Method When Selling a Car?

The safest payment method when selling a car is cash. This is because cash is easy to verify and cannot be counterfeited.

Another safe payment method is a certified check. A certified check is a type of check that has been verified by the bank as having funds to cover the amount written on the check. This means that the buyer cannot write a bad check and then disappear.

A wire transfer is also considered a safe payment method, but it can take a few days for the funds to clear.

Payment MethodProsCons
CashSafe, easy to verifyCan be dangerous to carry large sums of cash
Certified checkSafe, verified by the bankCan take a few days for the funds to clear
Wire transferSafe, funds are transferred immediatelyCan take a few days for the funds to clear
Third-party payment serviceSafe, protects both parties from fraudCan charge fees

Required Paperwork to Sell a Car with Bad Transmission

While the paperwork required to sell a car can vary depending on your state or county, in most cases, you will be required to provide a Certificate of Title, fill in odometer readings and show your ID card or driver’s license.

Some states, in addition to a Certificate of Title, are required to provide a valid emissions test certificate, registration tag and bill of sale.

Additional documents such as service records, VIN checks or user’s manuals are not required but might prove the value of your car and help close the deal faster.

Should You Sell a Car With a Bad Transmission as Parts

If you are an experienced mechanic or have in-depth knowledge of a car’s engineering and additional time, selling a car for parts might be a good option.

If your car’s parts condition is good, wear and tear is low, and mileage is not excessive, dismantling the vehicle and selling individual parts might even be more profitable than selling the car to a private buyer.

It is best to sell a car for parts when it is non-running or has significant damage that makes it unfeasible to repair. Also, when repairs become frequent and expensive and cost the car itself,

However, this process can take a significant amount of time and effort. You must disassemble the car, clean and inspect the parts, and then list them for sale online or at a salvage yard.

How long it can take:

  • Disassembling the car: 20-40 hours
  • Cleaning and inspecting the parts: 10-20 hours
  • Listing the parts for sale: 5-10 hours

Selling car parts is advised for those who have a constant supply of junk cars and can do this as a side hustle.

If you do not have the time or experience to part out the car and sell individual parts, it would be better to sell the car as a whole to Peddle or to a private buyer.

How Much Is a Car Worth With A Bad Transmission?

The amount of money you can get when you sell a car with a bad transmission will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Make and model of the car
  • The severity of the transmission problem
  • Mileage
  • Overall condition
  • Current market value

Typically, the fair market value of a car with a bad transmission can be expected to fall approximately within the range of 50% to 75% of its value in good condition.

For example: if your car is worth $10,000 in a good condition state, you can expect a resale value of about $5,000 to $7,500 when sold privately due to the impaired transmission.

To find out the estimated value of your car, browse similar listings on eBay Motors and Autotrader or use Kelley Blue Book car’s value calculator.

how to price a car to sell

How Bad Transmission Affects the Sale of a Car?

A car’s transmission is one of its most vital components, and potential buyers are likely to be wary of investing in a vehicle with such a significant issue.

This issue can influence the experience of selling a car if you plan to sell it to a private buyer or dealership.

Repelling buyers

In most cases, individual buyers are looking for a car that’s ready to drive, not one that needs immediate, potentially costly repairs. Such an offer can be a major financial liability for buyers, and most of them won’t be willing to take on that kind of expense.

Unreliable car

Most buyers are looking for reliable and safe vehicles. If you are selling a car with a bad transmission, it not only needs investments to repair but also can cause dangerous situations on the road. For example, a car can stall in the middle of driving or fail to accelerate properly, leading to potential car accidents.

Prolonging sale time

Selling vehicles with major issues takes longer compared to selling cars with no major flaws. The reduced pool of interested buyers and the likely need for price negotiations due to the car’s condition can significantly extend the time it takes to sell the vehicle.

When dealing with private buyers, be honest about the condition of the vehicle and the essential repairs needed. Targeting specific types of buyers, such as DIY mechanics, car flippers, or professional car dismantlers, can ease the process.

cash for junk cars

Is It Worth It To Fix A Transmission?

The decision of whether or not to fix a transmission largely depends on the car’s value, age, condition and estimated repair cost.

The cost of bad transmission repair depends on how much damage the transmission has taken and what type of work needs to be done: transmission repair, rebuild or replacement.

Transmission Repair

If your car’s bad transmission needs fixing minor issues like defective solenoids, throttle cable adjustment, fluid change, and flushing out sludge and grime, only some repair work is needed, which will cost $300 to $1,400.

For example, the cost of fixing defective solenoids in an automatic transmission ranges from $200 to $500 per single solenoid, while flush costs from $125 to $250.

Transmission Rebuild

This involves disassembling the transmission from the vehicle, followed by draining all of its fluid. Each part is meticulously cleaned, with worn-out components, such as clutch plates, bands, seals, gaskets, and solenoids, being replaced.

Once all parts are restored, the transmission is reassembled and reinstalled back into the vehicle.

On average, a transmission rebuild costs $3,000.

Transmission Replacement

If the transmission has failed and can’t be repaired, the mechanic will suggest replacing the old transmission with a new one. Replacements can range from $1,800 to $3,400.

The price of a new transmission depends on its type:

  • Remanufactured transmission – $1,300 to $3,400
  • Used or salvage transmission – $800 to $1,500
  • Rebuilt transmission – $1,100 to $2,800

If the cost of transmission repairs does not exceed 40% to 60% of your vehicle’s value, it can justify the repair expenditure.

sell damaged car to junkyard

Signs and Causes of Transmission Problems

The transmission is a critical component of any vehicle; it connects the engine’s power to the wheels. When it begins to fail, your car will show some distinctive signs and act out in ways that aren’t typical.

Moreover, a bad transmission can lead to a variety of additional issues: engine overheating, excessive wear and tear of the clutch, axles and drive shaft, increased fuel consumption or unsafe to operate on public roads.

Drawing from my experience, these are the leading indicators of a bad transmission:

  • Delayed or erratic gear shifting – the most common sign of transmission malfunctioning includes delay before the car engages into drive and the vehicle unexpectedly shifting gears while driving.
  • Strange noises – manual transmission: grinding or shaking sensation when changing gears. Automatic transmission: a whining, humming, or even a slight buzzing noise.
  • Leaking transmission fluid – the fluid is bright red, clear, and smells slightly sweet. If you spot a leak, your transmission is not working properly.
  • Engine light – a check engine light may indicate that there are issues with the transmission.
  • Burning smell – this can be caused by overheating transmission fluid. This can be caused by low fluid levels or dirty fluid.

Transmission problems usually arise due to several reasons:

  • Inadequate fluid levels: fluid is vital for cooling and lubricating the components. When fluid levels are low, it can cause engine overheating and excessive wear and tear of other parts.
  • Incorrect fluid type – there are 2 fluid types: automatic transmission fluid and manual transmission fluid. Using the wrong type of transmission fluid can disrupt the operation and cause the transmission to overheat or components to wear prematurely.
  • Lack of regular maintenance – regular checkups and servicing eliminate the build-up of grime and sludge, which can cause the transmission to fail.
  • Wear and tear – if the car is regularly driven in heavy traffic, hilly terrain, or carrying a heavy load. The more car is driven, the more components wear out.

Can You Replace Bad Transmission With a Used One?

Yes, you can replace a bad transmission with a used one, but it has risks. For example, if the used transmission has hidden problems that are not apparent at the time of installation, it can lead to costly repairs or even the need to replace the transmission once again.

Moreover, used parts have more wear and tear, shortening their service time.

If you decide to change your transmission with a used one, make sure it is compatible with your vehicle. It needs to match not just in terms of the make and model but also the year of your vehicle.

Finally, try to get some form of warranty or guarantee on the used transmission. This can provide a safety net if the transmission fails shortly after installation.

Can You Drive a Car With a Bad Transmission?

While it’s technically possible to drive a car with a bad transmission, it’s generally not recommended. The reason behind this is that a faulty transmission can cause your car to behave unpredictably and lead to serious safety risks.

Your car might stall in the middle of driving, shift gears unexpectedly, or struggle to move at all. It can be extremely dangerous, especially if such scenarios occur while driving at high speeds or in heavy traffic.

In addition, driving with a bad transmission will cause further damage to your vehicle and decreased fuel efficiency.

Is it Cheaper to Rebuild or Replace a Transmission?

The final cost of transmission repair depends on the following:

  • The severity of the damage
  • Car’s make, model and year
  • Labor costs
  • Availability and cost of the parts

Whether it is cheaper to rebuild or replace a transmission depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The make and model of the car
    • Some cars have more complex transmissions than others, which can make rebuilding more expensive.
  • The severity of the transmission problem
    • If the transmission is only slightly damaged, it may be cheaper to rebuild it than to replace it. However, if the transmission is completely unrepairable, then it will need to be replaced.
  • The cost of labor
    • The cost of labor can vary depending on the location and the shop that you use.
  • The availability of parts
    • If your car has a rare or discontinued transmission, it may be difficult to find the parts you need to rebuild it. In this case, it may be more cost-effective to replace the transmission.
  • The warranty
    • Some rebuilds come with a warranty, which can give you peace of mind if the transmission fails again in the future.

In general, rebuilding a transmission is typically less expensive than replacing it. However, there are some cases where replacing the transmission may be the better option.

How Don’t Get Scammed When Selling a Car?

First of all, it is always a good idea to learn about different scam methods, especially the ones occurring in your area. This will help you to identify potential scams and avoid them.

The most common scams to look out for when selling a car:

  • Overpayment scam – buyer pays more than your asking price. The scammer will send you a fake check or wire transfer and then ask you to send them the difference. Once you transfer the money, they will disappear, leaving you without a car and money.
  • Inspection scam – “buyer” will ask you to let him take your car for an inspection and claim that the car has major problems. He then offers you a lower price, and if you agree to the offer, the scammer gets the car cheaper, and you end up with a loss.
  • Fake buyer scam – the scammer will ask you to send them personal information, such as your driver’s license or social security number. Once they have this information, they can use it to commit identity theft.
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Michael Becker


About the author:

Michael Becker is a car enthusiast and expert who has been working in the automotive industry for over 15 years. He started his career as a salesperson at a local dealership, where he learned the ins and outs of the car market. Then he moved on to flipping cars for a profit.

Michael has also helped many of his relatives and friends to sell their cars, using his knowledge and skills to get them the best deals. He will guide you through the process and help you avoid the common pitfalls.

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