1989 Camry Wagon...is it time to take her out back and shoot her?


I have a 1989 Camry that I bought 2 years ago for about 2,300. It now has 130K miles on it. The Engine on it is great, I have had several people tell me that the engine has at least another 100K left in it. The problem is that the trasmission needs work. Considering that this could cost me close to what I paid for the car I’m a little hesitant. And the other major problem is that the Air conditioner has a leak. I had it recharged last year and it is empty again, that could get expensive. I also need to replace the radiator, but that is just a few hundred bucks.

Just looking for some feedback…do I dump her or make the investment.


It’s a 1989 Camry, honestly you can’t expect everything to work perfectly. Try looking at it this way, it will be winter in a few months. Do you really NEED to get the A/C fixed? A new radiator can be acquired for around $150 and you can install it yourself pretty easily. If you were to shop around I’m confident you could find a rebuilt transmission for $1200 ish or less. So lets say you put $1400 into this car. What kind of car can you buy for $1400? One that you aren’t familiar with and that will probably cost you in further repairs. It just comes down to whether or not you want to keep maintaining this car, or move onto a more expensive car that is less likely to require repair. Just remember though how good it feels to insure and register your 89 Camry!


Basically, the Camry WGN is a good reliable vehicle. If it were my car I would make the extra effort to replace the radiator and transmission.

I bought a radiator from www.radiator.com (1-800-248-8720) for my '89 Accord LX-I for $100+ including CA sales tax and s/h.

I have also bought used Japanese engines from: www.attarco.com (1-510-233-6666). Attarco also stocks used transmissions. They also ship. I would guess that you could get a used transmission for your Camry in the $600-$700 range, plus shipping.

To get your Camry rolling with a new radiator and a reliable used transmission for $900, I would make the effort You have a known quantity in your present vehicle. Look at this vehicle is that “the glass is half full.”

Good luck!

Captain Jack


The easy way out is to find another one if you can. It might be worth it for somebody else to buy yours and fix it. Somebody must have your next one for sale somewhere. Look around a while and you might get lucky. I think that your repairs are going to be around $2000.oo.


If the car is straight and runs good my opinion would be to keep it.
The A/C leak is probably a compressor shaft seal (very common) and this can be replaced without replacing the entire compressor if A/C is a desperate need.

On an older car, repairing a transmission is seldom cost effective. You’re better off just swapping it out with a rebuild or used unit; the latter IMHO.
You might check eBay and see if any are in your area.

Local salvages are also a good bet. Usually a few hundred will get a complete transmission and some salvage yards will install what they sell for a minimal charge, and guarantee it to boot.

Hope some of that helps.