If your automatic transmission is slipping gears, grinding, or running rough – especially when driving in reverse, it’s a good sign your flexplate is going out.
The flexplate sits between the crankshaft and the torque converter, flexing to absorb momentum, so you can shift gears without disengaging the transmission from the engine.
When it starts to go out, it will slip, fail to adjust properly, and possibly even damage your engine.
The average cost of replacing a flexplate is about $1400. However, actual costs can range from less than $50 for a DIY job to over $2,000 at a shop. Here, labor normally costs $300-$1,500 depending on your shop and your transmission. In most cases, expect $70-$230 for the flexplate.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of flexplate replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
How Much Does Flexplate Replacement Cost?*
The largest cost factor in replacing your flexplate is normally labor. That’s because you have to disconnect the transmission from the engine and shift it back to access the flexplate.
Of course, you might also be better off lifting the engine out, depending on your vehicle. Still, that’s a lot of labor and usually a minimum of 3 or a maximum of 15.
You’ll also have to consider the make and model of your vehicle and what parts cost for that vehicle. In addition, some vehicles are more prone to flexplate issues than others.
For example, the Ford Edge has significant issues with cracking the flexplate.
|Vehicle||Flexplate Cost||Labor Cost|
|Chrysler Town and Country||$44.99-$104.99||$390-$1,264|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (January 2023). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
Flexplate Replacement Price Factors
In most cases, the largest cost factor in replacing a flexplate will be the cost of labor.
However, there are other factors that could have a significant impact on the cost of replacement parts.
Make and Model of Car
The make and model of your vehicle are extremely important for several aspects of replacing the flexplate.
The first is that your car impacts parts. The more common your car is, the more likely you can choose secondhand or aftermarket parts.
In addition, the dealer cost of parts will impact the aftermarket cost of parts. For example, an OEM Honda flexplate will normally cost around $600-$800. An OEM Ford flexplate will normally cost about $160-$200. Of course, Ford flexplates are prone to cracking, so it’s normal to have to replace them.
The second is the undercarriage of your vehicle. The time to replace the flywheel will depend on how much time it takes to decouple the transmission from the engine and move one or the other back.
One major factor here is the difficulty of removing the transmission crossmember and if there’s space to push it back enough to get to the flexplate.
Flexplates are available in a wide range of quality, brands, and conditions. For example, if you purchase a brand new and original equipment manufacturer flexplate for your vehicle, you’re going to pay top dollar.
It’s unusual to see an OEM flexplate for less than $150. However, if you go for aftermarket parts, they tend to hover around $70 in costs for a good quality and respected brand.
Additionally, you might be able to buy a secondhand flexplate for as little as $10-$20.
Of course, there are pros and cons to each. In addition, your mechanic might not even be willing to install a secondhand flexplate.
Cost of Labor
Labor is normally the most expensive part of replacing a flywheel. Here, depending on your vehicle, you can expect to spend 3-15 hours on the job. On average, replacing a flywheel will require about 8 hours.
If you’re paying the national average mechanic rate of $80 per hour, that’s an average of about $400. However, mechanic’s rates go from $15-$210+. In some areas, you won’t find mechanics who charge less than $200.
In addition, dealers always charge more. Here, you’ll usually pay $180-$200 per hour for work – which means average costs are about double the standard mechanic’s rates.
At the same time, going to the dealership does mean you’re going to someone with expertise in your vehicle, which may be worth the extra cost.
Flexplates can crack if they are put under too much pressure or if the fluid gets too low. In most cases, you can get away with replacing just the flexplate, although you’ll likely need some automatic transmission fluid as well.
However, you might also have to replace the shaft seals or in rare cases, even the torque converter. Here, what you have to replace depends on what caused the issue in the first place.
Therefore, it’s always a good idea to inspect the transmission to see what parts should be replaced before putting it back together, as dropping the transmission is most of the work and therefore most of the cost.
Even a bad crankshaft can cause your flexplate to break. Or, you might be missing alignment dowel pins in the system – which might mean someone didn’t properly install your flexplate.
5 Symptoms of a Bad Flexplate
If your flexplate is going out, it probably means it’s rattling. However, you might have other issues or noises.
Vehicles are normally designed to minimize vibration in the cab, giving you as smooth of a ride as possible.
If your vehicle is vibrating more than it used to, it’s a good sign that something is going wrong with the suspension, the exhaust, or the transmission or brakes. A bad flexplate can cause significant increases in vibration especially when you’re driving.
If it’s a flexplate issue, it will likely get worse as you speed up. This happens because the flexplate is no longer absorbing the motion of the fluid in the torque converter and may even be hitting against the back of the engine block housing.
Importantly, if you’re experiencing severe vibrations while driving, you should get the issue fixed as quickly as possible to prevent further damage to the engine.
2. Grinding Noises Idling
Your vehicle should never make grinding noises. However, if your engine is grinding while idling, it’s a good sign that the crank or torque converter is damaged.
Here, you can park your vehicle and leave it on idle. If you’re getting grinding noises from around the transmission, it’s very likely to be a flexplate issue.
3. Refusing to Start
A damaged flexplate may not properly engage with the starter, which might mean you can’t start your vehicle. However, the same issue could be caused by a bad starter or a bad battery.
So, you’ll have to test and check both before you decide it’s a flexplate issue.
4. Clicking on Start
If your starter is clicking when you try to engage the ignition, it may mean that the flexplate gears are not quite aligning with the starter. That can cause a clicking noise and a delayed start.
Of course, you can get clicking issues because of a bad starter as well. Therefore, it’s important to actually inspect both.
5. Rattling Noises
If you’re hearing rattling, knocking, or clunking from the middle of your vehicle, the flexplate is a very likely cause.
Here, the flexplate is likely hitting the motor block or transmission casing. That’s extremely likely to happen when the flexplate cracks.
However, you’ll have to actually drop the transmission to check the flexplate.
How Do You Replace A Flexplate? (Video)
If you have time, some mechanical expertise, and a few good jacks, you can likely replace the flexplate in your vehicle yourself.
However, it’s important that you be able to support your transmission on a jack, because if you drop it to the ground, you’ll need professional equipment to get it back in the vehicle.
Here, you should almost always check the flexplate and automatic transmission fluid you need in your vehicle manual.
Purchase those before taking the vehicle apart so that you can (hopefully) get everything back together on the same day.
Things you’ll need:
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Wrench set
- Lug wrench
- Drain Pan
- Penetrating Fluid
- Disposable Gloves
- Replacement Flexplate
- Flat screwdriver
- Torque wrench
Replacing Your Flexplate
- Turn the vehicle off and remove the key from the ignition. Then disconnect the battery from the positive terminal.
- Set the parking brake and jack up the front of your vehicle. Then stabilize it with jack stands.
- Drain the automatic transmission fluid into a pan from the plug on the oil pan.
- Unbolt the starter from the transmission, so that it no longer connects to the flexplate.
- Slider a floor jack under the transmission and insert a wider board on top of the jack to distribute weight. If you put pressure on just one part of the transmission, it will punch a hole through the oil pan. Raise the jack till it’s almost touching the transmission.
- Unbolt the bolts holding the transmission to the engine, you’ll have to access them from the hood (top of engine) and from under the car (bottom of the engine).
- Move the crossbar if necessary.
- Use a pry bar to shift the transmission down onto the jack and push it back as far as you can. Often, you’ll need about a foot of space to access the flywheel bolts.
- Remove the torque converter housing. You may have to spray the bolts with penetrating fluid. In addition, you may have to drain the housing first. Have a drain pan ready.
- Spray the bolts on the flexplate with penetrating fluid.
- Remove the bolts on the flexplate. You’ll likely need an impact wrench to get them off.
- Remove the dowel pins and check to ensure none are broken.
- Inspect for signs of damage such as a cracked plate, debris, etc.
- Mount the new flexplate and bolt it into place. Check that the alignment is good. Check that the pins are all correct.
- Use a torque wrench to torque the bolts to the specifications of your vehicle.
- Put everything back together.
- Refill the transmission fluid.
Once finished, turn your vehicle on and let it idle.
If you hear grinding, clicking, or other noises, it’s a good sign to take everything apart again before driving the vehicle.
These frequently asked questions should help you with any additional questions you might have.
Is it worth it to remove a flexplate?
Replacing the flexplate is a significant repair. However, if the engine is in good condition, a new flexplate will keep it on the road for a great deal longer.
In most cases, mechanics make these sorts of decisions based on the value of the vehicle and the cost of the repair.
If you can get a new vehicle of the same condition and quality for the amount of the repair, it’s usually better to get a new vehicle.
Can you drive with a bad flexplate?
Driving with a bad flexplate can ruin your engine by damaging the transmission and the crankshaft.
The flexplate is intended to absorb energy from the torque converter. If it’s not functioning properly, the crankshaft will take the full brunt of that energy.
In addition, you will wear down gears, add extra wear and tear to the starter, and increase fluid usage.
Can you replace a flexplate without dropping the transmission?
In some cases, it’s possible to replace the flexplate without dropping the transmission.
If you have a hoist or a cherry picker, the easiest option is to lift the engine. However, some have managed to get around the transmission to access the flexplate bolts without dropping either.
At the same time, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll be able to do this and get the flexplate off. Therefore, it’s usually best to drop the transmission or slide it back.
Replacing a flexplate is a big job. In most cases, it will cost around $1500. Most of those costs are in labor, because it can take over 8 hours to drop the transmission and remove the flexplate. However, the job can range from about $80 in costs if you do it yourself to over $2,000 if you buy an OEM flexplate and have the dealer install it. In addition, costs will change based on your vehicle and which new flexplate you buy.