Home Transmission & Drivetrain Torque Converter Replacement Cost: As Expensive As It Seems?

Torque Converter Replacement Cost: As Expensive As It Seems?

by Kelvin Yates

Even the best of drivers confuse torque converter issues for transmission problems. Before you spend hundreds (and possibly thousands) on transmission repairs, it’s wise to consider that the issues might be originating from the torque converter. Torque converter replacement cost is much lower than that of transmission.

Typical torque converter replacement cost ranges between $600 to $1,200. However, if you think you are capable of doing the repairs yourself, the cost is reduced significantly. You will be looking at a figure between $150 to $500 (just for the parts). As you can see, labor costs make up the majority of torque converter replacement costs, standing at $400 to $700.

If the torque converter breaks down, you have to bring your car to a shop as soon as possible. Unfortunately, in most cases, the price of doing big repairs to this part costs as much, if not more than replacing the whole thing. Most car owners would have to pay between $600 to $1,200 but some vehicles will be pricier. The cost may vary depending on the labor involved.

For instance, an Acura MDX might be quoted up to $2,350 for just a torque converter replacement. Here is everything you need to know about torque converters.

What Does A Torque Converter Do?

The torque converter is tasked with transferring torque to the transmission from the engine. This fluid coupling is mounted between the transmission and the engine, secured straight to a “flexplate.” This “flex plate” is turned by the crankshaft.

Power is created by the internal combustion engine when it burns fuel that makes the pistons rotate the crankshaft. The fluid pressure within the torque converter transfers the rotation force to the transmission.

A series of blades resembling propellers are situated within the torque converter – they are called the pump. This assembly, along with the engine crankshaft, spins and forces the transmission fluid onto the impeller, another blade assembly. This second blade set is attached to the transmission input shaft. As a result, some hydraulic pressure is created inside the transmission and it is this pressure that decides the gear and speed of a vehicle.

Torque Converter Replacement Cost

The engine portion of the hydrodynamic circuit regulates the impeller’s speed. When the driver presses on the brakes or the car are stationary, the impeller slows down significantly as the pump continues spinning. This lets the torque converter behave like a clutch – it lets the engine run while the car is completely stationary.

Once the impeller blades get a healthy dose of transmission fluid, it has to come back to the pump to maintain the cycle. As the fluid is now moving in another direction, it must be reversed to avoid stalling and/or slowing down the engine.

For this, a 3rd finned wheel termed the stator is situated between the transmission pump shaft’s two turbines. Its blades are angled precisely so that when they are hit by the transmission fluid, it reverts directions and is channeled to the pump. Once the car stops, the in-built one-way clutch forces it to pause spinning, putting a stop to the hydrodynamic circuit.

Kickstarts The Transmission

Conversely, the stator can spin again when the car starts to move from a stop. The transmission fluid returns to the stator in a split second and it kickstarts the transmission pump, briefly multiplying the torque produced by the engine. This makes the transmission pump force extra fluid into the driveshaft, causing movement.

When the car starts moving, the one-way clutch of the stator lets it spin in the direction in which the other turbines are moving, reversing the flow of fluid and finishing the hydrodynamic circuit. After the car has come to cruising speed and all the transmission gears are shifted, the lockup clutch is engaged, linking the impeller to the front cover of the torque converter. At this point, all the turbines start working in harmony in a direct overdrive/drive scenario.

Torque Converter Replacement Cost: Torque Converter Location

The torque converter can be found between the automatic transmission and the engine. To troubleshoot any possible problems and perform a visual inspection, you have to remove the car’s engine and transmission. Some older American vehicles are equipped with a cover plate which you can take out to examine the torque converter. However, it isn’t possible to see much with the seal still on the torque converter. We highly recommend removing the torque converter for a proper diagnosis.

That being said, please refrain from performing any “repairs” on your vehicle if you do not have prior experience handling cars.

Torque Converter Replacement Cost: Symptoms Of A Faulty Torque Converter

Torque converter problems show symptoms that are frequently misinterpreted as those of a failed gearbox. As a result, people will wind up spending thousands of dollars merely to repair or rebuild their transmission.

What they don’t consider is that the torque converter might be the source of the problem. The torque converter is substantially less expensive to replace than the transmission.

If the torque converter fails, the car has to put in more effort merely to maintain the same levels of speed. The engine’s functioning will necessitate higher revolutions per minute, lowering fuel economy and transmission fluid pressure. The worst part, however, is that the system creates more heat which can make things even more difficult for you and your vehicle. Check out this list of generic bad torque converter symptoms:

1. Slipping

Because a torque converter is in charge of making hydraulic pressure required to shift gears within the driveshaft from engine torque, a damaged bearing or fin can make the transmission slip a gear or delay a shift. Moreover, slipping can be a result of excessive or insufficient fluid in the gearbox. You may also notice a lack of acceleration along with a considerable decrease in your vehicle’s fuel economy.

Before you take your automobile to the repair, make sure to inspect the fluid levels.

2. Overheating

If your car’s temperature gauge shows that your vehicle is overheating, it might be an indication that fluid pressure has dropped and there is an issue with the torque converter. When a converter overheats, it loses its ability to transmit power to the gearbox from the engine. This causes inadequate throttle response as well as significant wear and tire on the transmission’s internal working.

Overheating transmissions can also be caused by a faulty solenoid or low fluid levels.

3. Shuddering

When the lockup clutch within the component in discussion begins to fail, you may notice the car trembling around 30-45 mph. It’s easy to catch onto the sensation, and it usually seems like you’re going over a bumpy road with a lot of little bumps.

A worn lockup clutch could complicate the transition as the converted changes to direct drive, creating that shuddering feeling. The sensation may come and go quickly, and it might not linger all that much, but if you’ve noticed it multiple times, it’s high time to have that transmission inspected.

4. Contaminated Transmission Fluid

Automatic transmission fluid (ATF) fills a torque converter. If the fluid is polluted, it might cause harm to the internal components. As a result, the stator can have worn bearings or one of the turbines may develop damaged fins. Regular car maintenance should tell you the condition of the ATF.

Torque Converter Replacement Cost

If you notice a lot of grime/debris/sludge in the fluid, it might signify that the transmission or converter is broken. In this scenario, replace the drive and fluid for a time before rechecking the fluid. Consult with a certified mechanic if the problem persists or gets worse.

5. Higher Gear Engagement/Stall Speed RPM

The point at which the RPMs from the engine are high enough to transfer power to the transmission from the engine is termed “stall speed.” In simpler words, the stall speed is the RPM at which the engine speed is prevented from increasing by the converter if the transmission output is stopped.

A broken torque converter cannot transfer the rotation force of the engine into the hydraulic pressure properly. Consequently, the transmission takes more time to engage the engine, increasing the stall speed.

6. Strange/Unnatural Sounds

When a torque converter starts to fail, it will start emitting unusual noises. Some of the noises you may hear include a “clinking” sound from a bad turbine fin, or a “whirring” noise from faulty bearings.

7. Related Problems

Sometimes the problem isn’t with the torque converter. A solenoid might fail, causing transmission troubles in your car.

One typical source of concern is when the car becomes trapped in a low gear (2nd or 3rd) and refuses to shift in any direction appropriately. In this situation, the shift solenoid may be at fault. Repairing this should cost less than the torque converter replacement cost, but we suggest consulting with a good professional before making the call.

Torque Converter Replacement Cost: How To Test A Torque Converter

If you want to test a torque converter, there is no other alternative to taking the whole thing apart. However, you can surely check the component for signs of wear and tear. This is the method we would recommend you use to look for issues with the torque converter.

Start the engine and allow it to warm up. Once you start the engine, you should wait for the transmission oil to heat up to about 40°. This can take a while so sit back. And it’s best to check the transmission oil’s temperature using a diagnostic scanner to ensure that the oil has reached optimum temperature.

When the oil is warm enough, we move to the next step.

Change the shifter into gear. Apply the drive and gear and keep your ears sharp for any noise coming from the torque converter. A good torque converter should push the vehicle forward the moment the accelerator pedal receives a light touch. Shift between the remaining gears (Sport and Drive, whichever ones are applicable) and listen if any sounds are coming from that.

Test drive. Now you can drive the vehicle at accelerated speeds and put the torque converter to the test. Keep an eye on the speedometer and tachometer. Know the torque converter is slipping if the vehicle significantly revs up without truly accelerating.

All older transmissions tend to slip a little when accelerating, but for cars that have been used for a while, owners can usually tell the line between normal slippage and unnatural slippage. Just in case you are not sure, get a mechanic to test drive your vehicle. Perhaps they may be able to hear some noises or feel the converter slipping.

Torque Converter Replacement Cost: Common Reasons Behind Torque Converter Issues

Before we move on to torque converter replacement cost, it pays to know about the common issues one would encounter with a torque converter. In general, this component isn’t the most advanced part of most older vehicles. Sometimes it’s easy to find cheap whole replacements for faulty torque converters. We find that, in this case, taking it apart and changing different parts simply isn’t worth it. Instead, it’s quicker and cheaper to replace the entire thing.

1. Poor Torque Converter Needle Bearings

The stator, turbine, and impeller all rely on needle bearings to rotate freely. These rotating parts are separated from the converter housing with these bearings. So, if the bearings are damaged, drivers will notice stranger noises, reduced power, and pieces of metal in the ATF due to metal-on-metal grinding/contact.

2. Damaged Torque Converter Seals

If there is transmission fluid leaking out of the bell housing, chances are, the torque converter seal has been damaged. If a torque converter is incapable of holding the right volume of ATF, it will not have enough strength to transfer power to the transmission from the engine effectively.

This will cause shifting errors, overheating, higher stall speed, strange noises, and gear slippage. The bad seal has to be detected and replaced as soon as possible.

3. Worn Torque Converter Clutch

Numerous clutches are distributed throughout the assembly of an automatic gearbox. A torque converter clutch has the job of locking the transmission and engine into direct drive. A torque converter burnt by overheating, locked/jammed due to contaminants in the ATF, will hinder the process.

Thus, your vehicle might shudder and fail to lock itself. The friction material on top of the clutch plate is an important part of the component. Damages to this can harm the internal workings of a vehicle too.

4. Bad Torque Converter Clutch Solenoid

The amount of transmission fluid a lockup clutch of a converter receives is regulated by the torque converter.

If the fluid pressure cannot be measured accurately by this electronic part, the lockup clutch will not function properly as there will be too little or too much fluid supply. This can cause a reduction of direct drive function, make the engine stall, and decrease gas mileage.

Torque Converter Replacement Cost: Common Torque Converter Error Codes

The sheer panic on a driver’s face when an indicator lights up on their vehicle’s dashboard is telling of how serious a problem might be cooking up under the hood. Almost all repairs cost money, so the fear is valid. The Check Engine Light is usually not a good sign. Professionals should be able to find the problems within your vehicle quickly but before that, they would need to run a diagnostic test.

Most shops offer to do this service free of cost if you allow them to perform any repair works (if needed). For diagnostics, you would have to pay around $50 to $125. We find that doing a computer diagnostic is cost-efficient if it lets you find the exact issue without conducting multiple “trial and error” fixes that just end in disappointment.

These are a few of the common error codes your vehicle would display if there was an issue with the torque converter:

Error Code Meaning
P0741 Torque converter clutch circuit is stuck “off” or malfunctioning. Gears will start to slip over 35 mph.
P0742 The torque converter clutch circuit is stuck “on.” The vehicle will stall when stopped.
P0743 The issue with the TCC electrical circuit. The vehicle may fail to shift to the highest gear at elevated speeds or shake when it slows down.
P0744 The TCC and ECU aren’t communicating properly. It may result in hard stalling, incapacity to shift gear, and stalling.
P0750 Shift solenoid issue. A bad shift solenoid can make the vehicle shift to the wrong gear, potentially resulting in engine damage and overheating.
P2769 The powertrain control module has broken down, wiring is faulty, the coolant level is below required, or the coolant degassing valve is malfunctioning. This also implies that the engine might overheat.
P2770 Check for wiring damage and inspect transmission fluid level.

Torque Converter Replacement Cost

Garage/Transmission Store 


Minimum Price Range

$550 to $750

$150 to $300

Maximum Price Range

$950 to $2,000+

$350 to $500

Average Price Range

$700 to $850

$250 to $400

Cost Of Various Parts For Replacing Torque Converter

In general, a torque converter or the parts associated with it aren’t that expensive. Based on the make and model of your vehicle, the component can be expected to set you back between $150 to $350. For instance, a Ford Explorer’s torque converter usually goes for about $150 whereas the same thing for a Volvo XC90 is about 10 times higher – $1,300.

Another cost to count is that of the transmission fluid. It’s best to flush out the transmission system and replace the fluid when you are performing this sort of work on the component. This is an extra cost that you will be charged for, or you can do it yourself to cut back on expenses.

Costs Of Labor For Changing Your Torque Converter

The lion’s share of torque converter replacement cost can be accounted for by labor. Removing the transmission from the car, performing the replacement, and reinstalling the component is an intensive process and can take a whopping 5 to 10 hours.

Therefore, labor costs are higher than with most parts – between $400 to $700, based on your car and where you get it fixed. Want to get the transmission system flushed and the fluid changed? You will have to pay an extra $125 to $250 for that.

Examples Of Torque Converter Replacement Costs For Different Cars

Vehicle Make/Model

Price Range

Acura MDX

$2,200 to $2,400 

Ford Edge

$950 to $1,100

Ford Explorer

$750 to $900

Ford F-150

$1,200 to $1,400

Ford Ranger

$750 to $900

Honda Odyssey

$2,250 to $2,400

Jeep Cherokee

$950 to $1,050

Jeep Wrangler

$1,200 to $1,400

Subaru Forester

$1,000 to $1,150

Toyota Tundra

$800 to $950

Is It Safe To Drive With A Broken Converter?

It is important to know that a converter might gradually deteriorate with time before entirely failing. Driving a damaged car is dangerous because it might fully collapse when it shuts down, introducing metal particles into the gearbox fluid.

The polluted transmission fluid can enter the transmission and do considerable damage to the transmission, turning a simple converter change into a costly transmission replacement or repair. If you want to attempt a DIY transmission replacement, check out this video tutorial.

Car Torque Converter Problems and Solutions: Facts

  1. Mistaking the symptoms of a failing torque converter for those of a transmission can waste time and resources.
  2. A repair shop can easily determine if the car’s problem is from the torque converter or not by analyzing its signs.
  3. A torque converter is a device located between the engine and the transmission that transfers the engine’s power to the transmission and keeps its power output in the optimum range.
  4. Symptoms of torque converter problems include slipping, overheating, contaminated transmission fluid, shuddering, increased stall speed, and unusual sounds.
  5. Slippage is when the car loses acceleration and fuel economy due to the torque converter slipping out of gear or delaying a shift because of a damaged fin or bearing.
  6. Overheating can be triggered by a decline in fluid pressure or a malfunctioning solenoid and can cause transmission’s internal components to wear.
  7. Contaminated transmission fluid is a sign of torque converter damage and can impact the components such as the stator’s bearings and turbine’s fins.
  8. Shuddering occurs when the lockup clutch in the torque converter has difficulty enabling the converter to make a smooth transmission to direct drive.
  9. Causes of torque converter problems include damaged torque converter seals, damaged torque converter clutch solenoid, degraded torque converter clutch, and faulty needle bearings.
  10. Regular maintenance can help prevent torque converter problems and ensure that high-quality fluid is always in the transmission.

The Bottom Line

Torque converter replacement cost is much lesser than transmission repair or replacement cost. Problems with either component would show a variety of symptoms, creating confusion over which one is malfunctioning. Most people wouldn’t have to pay more than $700 and $850 for such a replacement. But based on the model and make of a vehicle, people can end up paying more or less.

Most of the cost is associated with labor, so we suggest you ask around and get multiple estimates before fixing a garage. Dealerships are generally pricier than your local auto shops, and you might want to get a transmission specialist for this kind of task.

It’s also wise to ask what type of warranty is provided on the components and craftsmanship, just in case you run into another issue down the line. When you consider the reputation and the warranty of the garage, the cheapest quotation isn’t necessarily the best.

Remember that keeping up with planned maintenance is the best way to avoid paying high amounts for replacements or repair of parts such as transmission or torque converters.

You may also like

Leave a Comment