How long can one reasonably expect a manual transmission to last these days?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1999

Dear Tom and Ray:

How long can one reasonably expect a manual transmission to last these days? I drive a 1991 Volvo wagon. At 33,000 miles, I had my First and Second gear synchros
replaced by Volvo at no charge. Then 60,000 miles later, I had the same symptoms and same diagnosis. I was given two options: $1,200 to fix it or $1,500 for a factory
rebuilt transmission. I opted for the factory rebuilt. Am I asking too much? Shouldn't a tranny last 100,000 miles these days? -- Serge

TOM: A transmission certainly should last 100,000 miles, Serge. In fact, it should last far longer than that unless you drive like an animal.

RAY: I'm guessing that there was something awry in that original transmission. I don't know what it was, but my guess is that it was somehow mis-manufactured.

TOM: Right. Olaf dropped it on his foot when he was trying to install it because he had too much aquavit during lunch.

RAY: And that's why it failed twice in the first 100,000 miles. I think you did absolutely the right thing in putting in a completely different transmission. The factory
rebuilt will be fine, but you probably could have paid about half as much if you had opted for a used (a k a junkyard) transmission. Either way, I'm willing to bet that
you'll never have this problem again.

TOM: Volvo did the right thing by picking up the tab for the first set of synchros. And it would have been nice if Volvo had contributed to the second repair as well.
Although once you get up to 90,000 miles, very few, if any, car companies will take responsibility for anything that happens to a car.

RAY: Right. Even if it turns to orange dust overnight in your garage, they'll still say, "Well, whadda ya want, pal? It's got 90,000 miles on it."

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One