Why would you believe your friend over an expert? Sounds to me like the cost is about right or possibly a little low. The Chrysler dealer I used to work for sold my mother a rebuilt transmission at their cost, (because they really liked me and the quality of my work), of $900.00, ... Around 2002. The list price was higher, and it's ten years later. Import parts are usually higher cost too so I doubt you are being overcharged. A lot of GM transmissions and a few for Fords cost over $3000.00.
You absolutely do not want a new transmission. Cost would be at least double. Those are typically only ordered when the vehicle is under warranty and the manufacturer is paying the bill. Rebuilt transmissions have new fiber and steel clutch plates, new seals and gaskets, and if there have been any modifications or improved parts, those are also included. The case and valve body are cleaned, inspected, and reused. All the parts that wear are new.
We don't get involved with labor cost here because there's way too many variables. We don't know the shop's hourly labor rate, how many hours it will take, how much transmission fluid and other parts will be needed, etc. I can do an older Dodge Caravan transmission in about six hours, but I'm rather slow because those were not my specialty area, and those are pretty easy to work on. As a guess I 'd suggest eight hours, but that's a guess. If you are quoted more hours, please do not say, "2carpros said, ... ".
Most shops go by what is called a "flat rate guide". That spells out the labor times for each procedure and parts of additional procedures. They add up all the variables that apply to your car, then charge you for that many hours. That way they charge the same as every other shop would charge for the same work. If the mechanic is very experienced, or invested in a lot of advanced training or expensive tools, he will get the job done faster, but you pay the same amount. It's to his advantage to work quickly and efficiently. If he takes longer than the time they are charging you for, he loses. You do not get charged more. By working faster he can move on to the next car sooner. The checks and balances is if he makes a mistake, he has to do the job over for free. It's to his advantage to work quickly but only if it's done right. Dentists, barbers, bakers, possibly even the kid who mows your lawn work the same way.
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Saturday, May 4th, 2013 AT 2:00 AM