Bad transmission - what are my options?

I’ve just been informed that my 2010 Nissan Maxima with 130k miles has a bad transmission - a $6,000 repair. The problem is that - if I’m lucky - this car is only worth $6,000 itself. However, minus the transmission, it is in pristine condition and fully loaded - every possible option, which is extremely hard to find in this model, and I love driving it.

My question is, should I repair it? I think I know the answer to this…

If not, what are my options? I can’t sell a vehicle with no transmission, right? Definitely can’t trade it in. How much could I get at a salvage yard? I’m trying to get Nissan to cover the repair since its only 1 month and a few thousand miles out of the extended transmission warranty. Otherwise I feel screwed. I could have gotten $6k for this car before last week. Suggestions?


Have you looked into replacing the transmission with a used unit from a salvage yard?

You can save big bucks doing that.

The used tranny I installed in my 97 Accord five years ago is still going strong.

$300,00 for the tranny.



I assume the $6k is what the dealer charges for a factory-new transmission, or a Nissan remanufactured transmission, including labor and incidentals? I would try to see if Nissan will offer any sort of goodwill assistance since they know these transmissions are defective. Maybe Nissan corporate will pay half the cost, and then for $3k it’s worth doing.

If Nissan won’t help out, my advice is to have the car towed home, and sell it on Craigslist as a “mechanic’s special” for whatever you can get. Just say in the ad that the transmission stopped working, and you cannot afford to fix, so you’re selling it as-is for $2000 obo. I would not accept less than $1500, and I suspect you will get that rather quickly.

The reason I suggest getting rid of the car is that the repair costs exceed the cost of the alternative, i.e. buying a different used car that runs. When you add in the salvage value (what you’ll get selling this car as-is) the numbers work out even more to favor selling it and buying something else.

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Never a good answer. I don’t know if they are overhauling these or replacing them but I’d check with a good trans shop to compare to see if they are over-hauling. Otherwise maybe used. If the choice is another $6000 car, I think I’d pass since that car could well need major repairs in the near future, then more good money after bad. The last car (only car) I scrapped with a good engine and trans, I got $100 for, but they picked up.


Ask around and see if you can find a good independent garage. The trans in my saab failed a few years ago and though I do a lot of my own work I had a Saab shop for this repair. They put in a used transmission with a new clutch (manual) and did some other service while in there and it was $1000.

I don’t see a salvage yard transmission being a good option, unless your plan is to immediately unload the vehicle, and even then it’s probably a “break even” compared to just selling as-is.

If we were talking about a model known to have few transmission problems, such as a Toyota Corolla, sure try a used unit from a junkyard. However, this is a model known to have an unreliable transmission, and many of these cars end up in the junkyard because of the transmission. I can’t see how installing anything other than a factory-new or remanufactured transmission–or getting rid of the car–would make sense.

unfortunately, CVT is a weak spot for Nissans and thus good used units may be in short supply

overhaul by a known good transmission shop (not a chain shop!) is a good option to entertain

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Oh oh, is this a CVT? That’s not good. Limits options.

Edit: Of course should have realized, Nissan owns the CVT manufacturer, JATCO, so onward onward, reliability be danged.

My question is this:. How much are you willing to spend to replace the Nissan? If it is just $6000, then you may be buying a car that may have more problems down the road.
I know one takes a chance putting $6000 into a $6000 car. If it is totaled after it is repaired, it is only worth $6000 or whatever the book of the vehicle.
I would only consider repairing the car if there is no rust and the engine doesn’t use oil and I don’t have the money to buy a much newer car.
It’s always a gamble as to whether to repair or replace something. I have one mower I bought in 1988. I had been using it this season because my other mower burns so much oil.that I am practically asphyxiated when I use it. At any rate, the 32 year mower developed a carburetor problem and would only run when I pumped the primer bulb. I squirted carburetor cleaner in the intake, but it didn’t do any good. I was trying to finish up a grant for my chamber orchestra and didn’t want to spend the time chasing down parts to rebuild the carburetor. The mower has a cast aluminium deck.and the engine still has good compression. I took it to a mower repair shop. When I got it back, the bill.was $180.for a mower that cost about the same price new back in 1988. Now I think I did get ripped off-the shop.shsrpened the blade which I had already done and replaced the spark plug and air filter which I had also done, as well as rebuilding the carburetor. However the only mower I could get for $180 would have a stamped.steel deck that is prone to rust and probably a low quality engine. Even though I spent too much money on a 32 year old mower, I couldn’t get as good a mower for $180.
I guess that’s the situation with your Nissan. Could you get something as good if all you can spend is the cost of the repair?

That’s the real question @Tim-351 has to ask himself, a lot of times repair is better than replace.

You can certainly sell or trade it in. A coworker just did that with an Explorer Sport the tranny failed. He simply walked over to the new car side and traded it on a new Ford SUV. Expect to get appropriately less due to the repairs needed. In your case, with an otherwise good vehicle, I might opt for a used tranny from an independent mech to save some $$

Single mom had 2011 maxima with bad trans on CL last week for $1000. It was sold in 2 hrs. She needed rent money. Life is tough.

Let’s not kid ourselves here. $6000 is still a lot of money, and unless you live in the Rust Belt, it is quite possible to buy a decent running car–and do whatever initial maintenance and repairs are needed to make it reliable–for a lot less than $6k. I could buy cars for less than $3k all day long, with no rust or body damage, put maybe another $500-1000 into them doing repairs and maintenance, and proceed to drive that car for another 5-10 years with just routine maintenance.

No way would I put $6k into repairing a vehicle, unless it’s worth at least twice that amount in running condition. Even then, I’d still consider the cost delta between selling as-is and buying something else versus doing the repairs.

In my neck of the woods $3000 cars aren’t very good

they’re either very old, have multiple issues, have been wrecked, have sky high mileage, or all of the above

And $500 - $1000 isn’t going to turn them into reliable cars for the next 5 - 10 years

Must be a different market where you’re at . . . ?

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Around here all that would accomplish is starting your own Salvage Yard . Even 6000.00 vehicles will not be all that great either.

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I admit to being a 78 year old geezer. I took my Geritol ®, though, before I expressed my opinion.
There are risks the OP faces in spending $6000 on an older car. I’ve been there. I had to have the manual transmission repaired on my car when I was a graduate student. I had three options: 1) go into debt and buy a newer car. To me, that wasn’t acceptable. 2) sell the car for what I could get for it and buy another old car. There were two problems here. First, the car in my price range might have just as many problems and secondly, I didn’t have time to go car shopping. 3) Have the transmission fixed. I chose option 3. The car wasn’t rusted and the engine had good compression and didn’t use oil. It was a risk I was willing to take. I didn’t carry collision insurance on the car so if I had an accident where I couldn’t collect from another party, I would lose. The result of my decision was that I drove the car three more years. The first year out of school, we saved enough to make a down payment on a house…
To me, ‘book value’ has little meaning. It’s what the thing means to me. I mentioned in an earlier post that I spent $180 having an old push.mower repaired. I was impatient and told the shop to ‘fix it’. However, it does run well and with its cast aluminum deck, it will probably last longer than a new cheap mower with a stamped steel deck and a cheap engine. I spent $275 having a 25 year old washing machine repaired more than three years ago. One of the reasons for having it repaired is that Mrs. Triedaq hates to go shopping. I hated the thought of dragging her from store to store to shop for appliances. When the technician fixed the machine in our house in a couple of hours and we have had 3 1/2 more years use of the machine, I think I came out ahead.
I don’t know the OP’s financial situation. If the vehicle is not rusted and the engine is in good shape, the point really is what the vehicle is worth to the OP.

There’s a shop that sells rebuilt Maxima transmissions for $2800 (plus $1000 core charge), no idea how good they are, site looks professional. Google 2010 Maxima rebuilt transmissions.

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Six grand is out of the question and so is selling it to a salvage yard who will only pay a pittance for it no matter how clean it is in appearance.

There are a number of transmissions on eBay in the 600 to 2400 (reman) dollar range. It’s claimed they are good and guaranteed but always take those claims with a grain of salt.
In the event this is the route you decide to go and IF the transmission turns out to be faulty in spite of any claims about being tested (how do they do that…) and good you could always file a SNAD (Significantly not as described) and get a refund.

There is one listed for about 1100 with free shipping, a 101 day guarantee, and free return shipping in the event of a problem.
And as with any used unit the existing fluid should be changed out and a new front pump seal and engine rear main seal installed before it goes back into the car.

Just some food for thought and that would be my preference compared to 6 grand or the boneyard.

There’s no way in ____ I’d buy a transmission on eBay


I suggest you ask a local independent transmission shop for a quote on installing a used transmission. You’ll have a car that moves under its own power and probably a 30 or 90 day warranty. Then start looking for a replacement. At 10 years old and 130k, more things are going to break, maybe sooner rather than later.