Author Topic: Should we fix car or buy our next used car?  (Read 4036 times)

Lura_SOAR

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Should we fix car or buy our next used car?
« on: July 04, 2014, 07:41:41 AM »
My husband and I have a 2006 Toyota Corolla that we bought used in 2009.  It currently has 152,000 miles on it (when we bought it, it had 80,000).  We just found out the transmission is shot and will need to be replaced.  The brakes will also need to be replaced soon.  So the question is, should we pay to get these things fixed and then hopefully be able to drive it another 50,000 miles or should we buy our next used car now?  The transmission will cost about $2,900.  Blue Book value for the car if it were in "good" condition is $4,736.

If you need other information about us, it is our only car.  We bike to work 90% of the time, but we use the car heavily on the weekends to ski, raft, rock climb, etc.  If we bought another car, we would probably spend about $9,000-10,000.  Not sure what car we would replace it with.  We are considering something with 4 wheel drive or something a little larger so that we can sleep it in when we camp, but getting good gas mileage is a critical factor. 

frugaliknowit

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1662
Re: Should we fix car or buy our next used car?
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2014, 10:00:31 AM »
I am assuming the $2900 is for a tranny "rebuild".  I would either dump the car now, or perhaps rebuild the tranny and dump it before the warranty on the rebuild runs out.   Find out about the warranty on the rebuild to aid in your decision making.  I have seen much trouble with tranny rebuilds in that they tend to not last very long.

Mr. Frugalwoods

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 296
  • Location: Greater Boston Area
    • Frugalwoods
Re: Should we fix car or buy our next used car?
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2014, 10:45:32 AM »
First get a second opinion from a shop where you tell them upfront that they won't be doing the work.  Maybe things are as bad as your normal mechanic says.  Maybe his son needs braces.  You never know.

Secondly, now that you are aware of these problems, how much are you going to be able to get for the car by selling it?  Depends on your ethics, I guess.

Finally, I'd see if you could get a drop in junkyard replacement.  I've had good luck with junkyard parts, but never had to do a transmission... so it'd be something to research.

Rebecca Stapler

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 907
    • Stapler Confessions
Re: Should we fix car or buy our next used car?
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2014, 02:52:30 PM »
Once you get the transmission done, could you list the car in "good" condition? Or are there other things wrong with it, particularly cosmetic / something anyone would notice?

How would you pay for the new-to-you car: Would you have to finance it, or can you pay cash?

I'd be inclined to fix the car, but we're still driving our 1999 Corolla, so I'm biased. I think we have 165k miles on it at this point. Ours has two dents in it, and I can't imagine getting more than $2k for it (or even $2k). So, as long as we can repair it for under $2k, we will probably continue to get repairs and drive it until it's cost prohibitive. One factor in this decision is that we couldn't pay cash to replace it, but we can pay cash to repair it. I don't want to take on a car loan at this point and we are sending all of the extra cash we have towards paying down our SLs.

Repairing the brakes isn't that big of a deal to our cost calculations, because it's something that has to be done on every car. So, all the years we drove the car without putting any money into it pays for the year we have to replace the brakes. It's just important not to let the brakes get too bad before you replace them.

Exflyboy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6240
  • Age: 57
  • Location: Corvallis, Oregon
  • Expat Brit living in the New World..:)
Re: Should we fix car or buy our next used car?
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2014, 02:57:02 PM »
Is there somebody you know who could teach you how to fix this car yourselves?

Installing a tranny from a junk yard is orobably not something you want to take on as your first car DIY project but its certainly not difficult either.

The brakes are simple.

Frank

RapmasterD

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 589
  • Location: SF Peninsula
Re: Should we fix car or buy our next used car?
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2014, 02:57:35 PM »
What warranty would you get on the $2900 replacement transmission? If it's 3 years/36K miles, I'd go for the rebuild considering how many miles you say you drive. Brake replacement is ongoing maintenance.

I don't see what kind of replacement automobile you'd get for those short dollars....

I was in a similar dilemma last summer with my 13 year old Acura TL that had 110,000 miles on it. But the replacement rebuilt tranny cost was $5,500, the 2000-03 Acura TLs -- as well as other Acura and Honda models had known dud transmissions and class action lawsuits facing them, and last year I was driving about 16K miles per year (I've since cut that by about 60%).

Your case is different: you're driving a Corolla, you don't drive a lot, and the replacement cost is significantly less expensive.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2014, 02:59:30 PM by RapmasterD »

greaper007

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1129
Re: Should we fix car or buy our next used car?
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2014, 03:10:47 PM »
Brakes are cheap and easy, so we can toss that out of the equation.

First this sucks and I feel you pain.    152,000 isn't exactly very early for a tranny to fail, but I still think it's way too early for a newer Toyota.    I'm just curious, did you guys do regular transmission fluid changes (at least every 30,000 miles) or tow anything with the vehicle?   I have a Sienna and changing the transmission fluid is very easy and straight forward.    I drive it up on ramps and take out two bolts that allow the fluid to drain out of the transmission and I believe the differential, then I just pour the new fluid into the dipstick tube.    It takes me about 20 mins and maybe $20 in fluid (I always use full synthetic).     Whatever you do, I'd get in the habit of doing this with your next car or transmission.

It doesn't sound like you guys can do your own work on this transmission, not many people can.    You have to get modern cars up pretty high to drop the transmission, or maybe pull the whole engine out along with the tranny and then separate them.    It's a big job that I don't think I could undertake with my tools and I'm pretty adventurous.

So, if you pay the shop to put in a (remanufactured, rebuilt, junkyard? find out, that stuff matters) transmission you're out $3000 for a car that might bring in $4200, so that's a $1200 difference.     Not really worth it to me.    Here's what I would do.   List it on craigslist for $1200 with a disclosure that it needs a new transmission.    Someone will snap it up and you can get a different car.    Then make sure that you become a stickler with preventative maintenance.    Changing out all your fluids (not just oil) on a regular basis goes a very long way towards having a car that will go 200,000+ miles.   Especially since you guys don't drive that often.    One of the worst things you can do with a car is let it sit.

Good Luck.

greaper007

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1129
Re: Should we fix car or buy our next used car?
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2014, 03:14:47 PM »
Is there somebody you know who could teach you how to fix this car yourselves?

Installing a tranny from a junk yard is orobably not something you want to take on as your first car DIY project but its certainly not difficult either.

The brakes are simple.

Frank

I had a friend that was getting rid of a van with a blown transmission last year.    I toyed with the idea of buying it and flipping it but I couldn't figure out how I could get the van high enough with my jack and stands to drop the transmission out.    From what I understand, most modern cars need to have the entire "cradle" removed in order to remove the transmission.     It just didn't seem possible with my assortment of tools so I passed on it.

How do you go about removing the tranny?

Exflyboy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6240
  • Age: 57
  • Location: Corvallis, Oregon
  • Expat Brit living in the New World..:)
Re: Should we fix car or buy our next used car?
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2014, 04:34:33 PM »
Is there somebody you know who could teach you how to fix this car yourselves?

Installing a tranny from a junk yard is orobably not something you want to take on as your first car DIY project but its certainly not difficult either.

The brakes are simple.

Frank

I had a friend that was getting rid of a van with a blown transmission last year.    I toyed with the idea of buying it and flipping it but I couldn't figure out how I could get the van high enough with my jack and stands to drop the transmission out.    From what I understand, most modern cars need to have the entire "cradle" removed in order to remove the transmission.     It just didn't seem possible with my assortment of tools so I passed on it.

How do you go about removing the tranny?

Like this..:)

OK I jest ( a little) you could use tall axle stands and a large trolley jack.. I have changed out more than one tranny this way.

Frank

capital

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 451
Re: Should we fix car or buy our next used car?
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2014, 05:10:35 PM »
My husband and I have a 2006 Toyota Corolla that we bought used in 2009.  It currently has 152,000 miles on it (when we bought it, it had 80,000).  We just found out the transmission is shot and will need to be replaced.  The brakes will also need to be replaced soon.  So the question is, should we pay to get these things fixed and then hopefully be able to drive it another 50,000 miles or should we buy our next used car now?  The transmission will cost about $2,900.  Blue Book value for the car if it were in "good" condition is $4,736.

If you need other information about us, it is our only car.  We bike to work 90% of the time, but we use the car heavily on the weekends to ski, raft, rock climb, etc.  If we bought another car, we would probably spend about $9,000-10,000.  Not sure what car we would replace it with.  We are considering something with 4 wheel drive or something a little larger so that we can sleep it in when we camp, but getting good gas mileage is a critical factor.
If you are buying a new used car, look at the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix— it's basically a tall Corolla wagon, with similar reliability and gas mileage but lots more room for gear. I bought one for $5000 in 2011, used it similarly to you for outdoor recreation on the weekends, and used the back for sleeping in the desert while moving cross-country, though I needed to curl my legs up a little as a 6-footer. There is a relatively scarce AWD version, though I am not sure if it is reliable as the standard one.

alsoknownasDean

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1976
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Should we fix car or buy our next used car?
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2014, 09:25:17 PM »
Have you tried shopping around for repair prices?

greaper007

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1129
Re: Should we fix car or buy our next used car?
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2014, 05:23:38 AM »
Is there somebody you know who could teach you how to fix this car yourselves?

Installing a tranny from a junk yard is orobably not something you want to take on as your first car DIY project but its certainly not difficult either.

The brakes are simple.

Frank

I had a friend that was getting rid of a van with a blown transmission last year.    I toyed with the idea of buying it and flipping it but I couldn't figure out how I could get the van high enough with my jack and stands to drop the transmission out.    From what I understand, most modern cars need to have the entire "cradle" removed in order to remove the transmission.     It just didn't seem possible with my assortment of tools so I passed on it.

How do you go about removing the tranny?

Like this..:)

OK I jest ( a little) you could use tall axle stands and a large trolley jack.. I have changed out more than one tranny this way.

Frank

Ha, that's what I figured.

Lura_SOAR

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Should we fix car or buy our next used car?
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2014, 02:47:25 PM »
Thanks for the advice everyone.  I got a second opinion, and this mechanic also agreed we need a new transmission (but charged us nothing for the assessment, so that's nice).  It looks like the rest of the car is sound, and the mechanic thinks we should get to 200,000 miles on it easy without too many future expenses.  So comparing the per mile cost of fixing this car and going to 200,000 miles or getting another used car and running it to 200,000 miles, it looks like fixing this car is the way to go.  Fingers crossed that it all works out.