How Often Do Gearboxes Fail?

At NWT, our work is purely to repair gearboxes and also supply refurbished units, that means that inevitably we see a lot of broken gearboxes.

If you were to pay us a visit you’d probably come away with the conclusion that gearboxes are the biggest issue on modern cars, the component that is most likely to need fixing.

However, just how common are gearbox issues and how does this compare to other parts of the car?


As gearbox experts, that is a question we would not be best placed to answer – luckily others have done the research for us.

The Car Expert site recently had a fascinating post that listed the top 10 warranty claims for cars – these the things that owners are getting in touch with the warranty company to seek assistance with.

Naturally, this will not cover some minor issues, things not covered by warranty. However, those minor issues tend to be easily affordable, if annoying.

The warranty is there for those big-ticket items that can cost hundreds, or thousands of pounds to remedy.

Are Gearboxes Reliable?

Did gearboxes make the top 10 and, if so, how high?

To put you out of your misery, yes gearboxes are in the top 10 warranty claims.

The articles said this:

“The gearbox takes the power from your car’s engine and turns it into the forward motion of the wheels, using a series of different gears, manually or automatically. Modern gearboxes are very complicated and precise things, usually containing anywhere between six and ten gears (plus reverse). Automatic transmissions are even more complicated.

“Unfortunately, gearboxes are also very expensive to repair or replace if they fail.”

The post also gave a guide price to replace of £3,000, this figure would be suitable for many makes and models but there is of course great variance across ranges. A rare Ferrari gearbox is going to cost more to repair than a Ford Mondeo’s.

How high do you think gearbox was on the list? Top 5? Top 3? Top.

In fact, not so high. This issue was a bit lower, eighth on the list, sandwiched inbetween the alternator and the exhaust gas recirculation valve.

Can you guess the top three? We got two of them but must admit one of them was a bit of a surprise – we’d have guessed slightly lower.

In third place, it was the fuel injectors.

In second coil springs.

And, top of the lot, the good old radiator. Given the radiator’s importance in keeping the whole system from overheating is no surprise that people seek immediate remedy for any issues.

What does this mean for gearboxes?

It probably isn’t surprising that gearboxes make the list and you can argue both ways as to what inclusion means.

Does the fact gearboxes are in the top 10 point to generic unreliability, or is it to be welcomed that they are so low in the top 10?

After all, some items had to make up the top 10 – being in eighth might mean that there are relatively few claims.

However, consideration also needs to be given to both the impact of any issue and the cost to repair.

Gearbox or transmission failure is likely to be hugely impactful and will also be a repair that has a fairly significant cost. Indeed, in the article’s guide prices, gearbox repairs are twice as costly as the next most expensive fix. That said, electrical repairs covers a wide range of issues, and this too could run to thousands.

Our Conclusion

We believe that this research shows there is no need to be in a state of panic relating to your gearbox, they are generally reliable and not prone to sudden failure.

However, there is no escaping the fact that gearboxes are increasingly complicated and fixing issues relating to them or transmission will never be a cheap fix. We pride ourselves on being fair on price, but it would be unrealistic to say that any gearbox repair, or delivery of a refurbished unit, will not come with fairly considerable expense.

It is therefore certainly worth seeing what you are covered for, whether this is through warranty from place of purchase, manufacturer warranty or cover you decide to take out now.

It is always also worth considering specialists in gearbox repairs if you do have any concerns or issues. This can save both time and expense when compared to a more generalised mechanic – you benefit from engineers who know exactly what they are doing, have all parts to hand and decades of experience dealing specifically with issues similar to yours.

At NWT, our reputation shows that we are this reliable source for repairs. We are always happy to undertake an obligation-free conversation to discuss your requirements.


At North West Transmissions we repair gearboxes or source replacement with guaranteed refurbished units.

A family-run business, we have a truly superb reputation, this shown by our 4.9 out of 5 average rating from dozens of reviews on Google.

All reconditioned gearboxes come with guarantees for 12 months or 12,000 miles while reconditioned automatic units come with a re-manufactured torque converter that has a lifetime guarantee.

Our technicians are all highly skilled with vast experience in reconditioning and repairing all units – importantly their efficiency helps cut down the price of repairs and so too the cost.

Gearbox problems are all-too common. If you find yourself in need of a repair or reconditioned unit, that often being the more economical option in the long term, please contact us.

Call us on 0151 933 0257 or use our Contact Form.