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flyingd

Tranny Shot

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I travel extensively for work - 40-50K highway miles a year. My 2002 RX has served me very well until now. The vehicle has 165K and the tranny is shot. I felt the gears shifting hard but was getting close to home so decided to continue on. I called my local mechanic and schedule a transmission fluid change for the next morning, but never made it. Typical of transmission seizes, the car lost drive stranding me 30 miles from home. All the gears locked up and would not budge. I had it towed to the transmission shot, not an easy task with the gears frozen - tires will not move.

Here is the dilemma. I owe $5,000 on the vehicle. I have been quoted around 4K for a new transmission and around $3,500 for a the shop to rebuild the tranny in mine, but they will only give me a 12K warranty either way. Will I get another 50K - 100K out of the car, or will I be throwing my money away. The engine runs good (change oil every 3K - 4K). I just had the brakes, timing belt and tires done. If not, what is the resale value of the vehicle with a shot tranny?

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Well, here's the deal. If you try to sell it "as is" with a failed transmission it will essentially be worth its Salvage Value which is most certainly less than what you owe on it. On the other hand, it sounds like you have kept the RX well-maintained so if you put in a re-manufactured transmission (my personal preference) you likely will continue to have reliable transportation for some years to come. Of course that 'reliable transportation' will include continued and increasing maintenance on an older and aging vehicle. But, the drive train components - which are the most expensive - are probably going to serve you well. After a couple of years of continued use, you probably will need to be thinking of trading while the RX still has some decent resale value remaining.

Unless you know a local transmission service shop in whose work you have great confidence and know they will stand behind their work, the re-manufactured transmission is probably your best bet. These transmissions are "rebuilt" in a facility where that's all they do and your chances of long-term satisfaction are likely to be much greater than the initial cost difference between that and a 'repaired' product from one of the chain/independent transmission shops. A 3rd option is to take the least-cost route with a local shop and then drive directly from the transmission shop to the car lot and trade for something else.

Caveat emptor.

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Well, here's the deal. If you try to sell it "as is" with a failed transmission it will essentially be worth its Salvage Value which is most certainly less than what you owe on it. On the other hand, it sounds like you have kept the RX well-maintained so if you put in a re-manufactured transmission (my personal preference) you likely will continue to have reliable transportation for some years to come. Of course that 'reliable transportation' will include continued and increasing maintenance on an older and aging vehicle. But, the drive train components - which are the most expensive - are probably going to serve you well. After a couple of years of continued use, you probably will need to be thinking of trading while the RX still has some decent resale value remaining.

Unless you know a local transmission service shop in whose work you have great confidence and know they will stand behind their work, the re-manufactured transmission is probably your best bet. These transmissions are "rebuilt" in a facility where that's all they do and your chances of long-term satisfaction are likely to be much greater than the initial cost difference between that and a 'repaired' product from one of the chain/independent transmission shops. A 3rd option is to take the least-cost route with a local shop and then drive directly from the transmission shop to the car lot and trade for something else.

Caveat emptor.

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I would get a few quotes and the labor for all of them should be the same since this is a direct replacement. I'd get a quote from my Lexus dealer; from a Toyota dealer; and from 1 or two independents who preferably specialize in Lexus/Toyota vehicles. A straight-up replacement is pretty straightforward but having a knowledge of Toyota systems would be a plus but not necessarily a requirement. The big difference is that a good independent shop will have lower labor rates and that will make a difference. Just be sure they are quoting the same re-manufactured transmission. I'm guessing the transmission will come with a 12 month/12,000 mile warranty and in general any real defects attributable to the rebuild should show up in that period of time. As to price, you're probably in the $3500-$4000 range but that's just a guess.

One other thing: the new transmission may not include a new torque converter. The one on your RX may or may not still be OK. The good news is that won't add a lot to the cost but you need to be sure that is either included in the quote or listed as a separate line item should one be required.

Let us know what you decide to do and why.

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I'd start with the dealers and then talk to the independents. Some of the independents may be buying theirs from the dealership parts department but at wholesale prices. You just need to start asking questions and starting with the dealers is the easiest place to start. As far as it goes, I'm sure the chain shops (AAMCO, Mr. Transmission, etc.) also have access to a factory reman transmissions as well so I'd give them a call too.

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There are salvage yards around that specialize in used engines and trannys with less than 30K miles. They also offer some type of warranty. I think you can get them for like half the price of rebuilt or less. Just a thought. Good luck.

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Had a tranny go up in my mustang when I was younger and I got a replacement from a salvage yard! I also would check there too.

As far as your other concern about fixing your rx? Personally I would have serious doubts about dumping 4k or more in to it and would see what you could do on a replacement car. You could almost pay your off for what it will cost you to fix. Also if you do that amount of traveling I wouldnt dump the money into a rx that has 165k on the clock already. I am sure you will have the feeling "I have fixed everything nothing else can go wrong" but something will. If your rx was paid for then maybe I would fix it but you need to sit down and figure how much this car is costing you add everything up...I bet you would be surprised. I just think you are throwing good money away IMHO.

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Fix it, a new car payment would just set you back... plus taxes, insurance, and license fees are probably more. good luck

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Sit down and figure out the costs. Lenore is right. A new car is nice but it's monthly payments all over again. So if it's a $4000 job (even though you still owe $5000 on the car), calculate the monthly payments of a new car x60 (if it's a 5 yr mortgage), then go from there and decide which will be more reasonable in the long run

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I got 294 THOUSAND miles on my first RX. I had one tranny go out at about the same mileage as you, and had the rebuilt one go out at 294K. Even a rebuilt tranny still has some wear on it, they only replace the clutch plates and some gears and other parts as needed. It will function properly for at least another 80 - 100 K +. So if you are comfortable dropping 4K on the vehicle do it. I would not do it if you do not plan on driving it for at least another 60K. You wouldn't get your money's worth at that point.

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