Better to change the transmission or junk the car?

I have a 1997 honda accord EX with 191,000 miles, which I have had since 2007, with new egr valves and solenoid parts but still with the check engine light on. After replacing the egr valves and solenoid parts, the light is still on, and the diagnosis is it needs a new solenoid and probably a new transmission, costing about 2 thousand dollars.

It’s still running, and the tranny is not slipping yet. My mechanic advises to drive it till it slips and then just junk the car especially since next may be the engine or the crank shaft, who knows?; but I am having serious trouble finding a decent used car for under 10,000.00 and even those are not so great.

Is there any reasonable argument for replacing the tranny and hoping to get another couple of years out of the car? Any opinions?


I just replaced the daughters transmission in her 98 Civic with 214K miles on it. The replacement transmission was a used one with 120K miles on it for $300.00. So far she’s driven the car for three weeks with no shifting problems or no Check Engine light. Now I know that installing a used transmission in your vehicle is going to cost more. Because I don’t charge labor for family members. They just pay for the parts.

If the Check Engine light shows codes for the transmission there might be a problem with the shift solenoid. Also, you might try changing the transmission fluid if it hasn’t been done as this can cause shifting problems.

But you have to look at the overall condition of the vehicle before deciding to install a new transmission. Because you’ll never recover the cost of the new transmission if ever decide to sell the vehicle.


I think the choice should begin with evaluating the physical condition of the car, ie body, paint, glass, interior, rust, etc, and anything you can determine about the engine, particularly compression. If the car is pristine, and the compression is good (have a mechanic do a compression test), and if it has it had regular oil changes and transmission fluid changes at 30,000 miles or so, then proceed to the next step.

Does the car meet your needs and do you like it? If so, it’s probably worth finding out what the problem really is. What you’ve posted suggests the shop is guessing to some extent. You might visit a locally owned transmission specialty shop to see if they can read the codes and if that CEL refers to the transmission. If it doesn’t, have them evaluate the transmission to validate or refute the original questionable diagnosis. Do NOT go to AAMCO or any other chain franchise shop.

If the car is no better than fair, then run it until the problem gets worse, then move on. If it’s good or better, and if the trans shop doesn’t find a problem, I’d suggest you find out what the real problem is before deciding. I don’t think your shop is qualified. Find an independent small business, not a chain.

You might also try local parts stores, some of which will read CEL codes for free. Autozone often does that. IF you get codes, post the actual code numbers here, not the interpretation.

Used car’s are becoming pricier as folks just don’t have the money to buy a new one in this down in the dumps economy, so it drives up the price of used cars I guess. There’s little one can do about that tho. So I guess if this were my car, first off I’d have all the ECM and xmission codes read out and posted, see what the experts here think. If it turned out there wasn’t a clear indication of major problem looming, I’d just do a routine service on the xmission (drop the pan, clean/replace the filter, new fluid) and hope for the best. Eventually the xmission will fail, sure, but eventually something else will fail, even if the xmission doesn’t. There could be a lot more miles in the car as-is, and when whatever is bound to fail does, it still might be a better deal compared to the alternatives to simply fix it and continue driving. There’s one good thing about cars. Other than damage from a major crash, pretty much anything can be fixed. And it isn’t really that expensive, esp compared to buying a replacement car.

thanks everybody. I will get the codes from Autozone and post them in the next few days. I do like the car, and it has no rust, just scratches and dings. Good point about not recouping the price on the parts - I just paid 500 for new egr valves, as that was the first code…

Okay, I have the autozone code which is aaegr insufficient flow probable cause aa1 faulty egr valve aa2 blocked egr passages in engine.

this was the code we got in the first place. then we replaced the egr valve, after which the egr code went away but 5 transmission codes showed up. then we poured something into the car, and 4 transmission codes went away. but the 5th code was still a solenoid code at the mechanics.

any opinions?


I believe we asked you for the specific code, not the interpretation.

Anyways, is the EGR code P0401?

Can you also post the exact solenoid code?

Oh, I thought that was part of the Autozone thing. Yeah, it was P0401 OEM brand Honda. I dont have the solenoid code. that’s with my mechanic.


There’s a pretty good chance your EGR passages are clogged up with carbon

Not uncommon on Hondas

That’s what I think my mechanic thought. Obviously, i know nothing about cars.

Before he changed the egr valves he poured somethinginto the gas tank. after that didnt work, he cleaned out the valves by hand. after that didnt work, he changed the valves and solenoid parts. then, when the egr code changed to 5 tranny codes a few days afterwards, they poured something into the car and after 100 miles 1 code remained, which brings us to where we are now.

The EGR valve’s primary purpose is to control nitrogen compound emissions, and it does it by cooling the combustion process by recirculating some of the exhaust gas back into the intake manifold. When the EGR valve is stuck closed or the passages are clogged, that might produce a code, but I don’t think a driver would notice a difference in drivability or performance would they? When the EGR gets stuck open, that’s when I’ve noticed EGR related performance problems on my cars.

Sorry, but I’m not convinced you have the best mechanic. Perhaps instead of pouring more money into the car and your mechanic’s pocket you should take it to a Honda dealer for a good evaluation. Yes, the dealer will charge something to check out the car, but they have better diagnostic machines, and more experienced mechanics. Perhaps they can tell you exactly what is and isn’t needed.

It sounds like the car is in decent shape so maybe you should consider taking it to a more qualified mechanic. I think your current mechanic is throwing darts without knowing where the target is located.

I’m also starting to hear a whining sound when I pick up speed on the highway…I think my mechanic is right about it being the tranny. He’s good, and he has a tranny shop next door he consults with. I’m not doubting him on that its the tranny.

What I am wondering is whether, contrary to what he thinks, its worth putting 2000 dollars into the car, and hoping the engine shaft doesnt go next week - or on the other hand putting 6000 into a used car that is going to likely be a 2004 or so, civic as opposed to honda, with about 100000 miles which seems to be the arena - and hoping that engine light doesnt light up…that’s really the dilemma.