Did the mechanic shop total my car during a diagnostic test?

Hey everyone, I’m new here and read through some of the posts and you seem like the right kind of people to give me feedback.

I have a 2014 Nissan Versa at 131k miles. I took my car in to a local transmission shop the day after it was running 4.5 RPM at 45 MPH. The day I drove it in, it was running perfectly (of course) and did not experience the high RPM issue like the day before. I drove 50 MPH with normal RPM of about 2.5. Nonetheless, I dropped it off and asked they run a diagnostic. The check engine light was not on.

A few days later I get call asking if they can take the transmission out to diagnose the problem and quoted me $689. I agreed. A few hours later they called back and said the transmission is broken beyond repair and they cannot put it back together. They pushed me to buy a new transmission for $4985, but I declined since the cost of the transmission is more than what my car is worth. The return on investment would be better if I took that 5k and invested in a newer car, in my opinion. They argued with me about how my car has another 10 years on it with a new transmission, but I still said no.

They wouldn’t tell me what was wrong with the old transmission specifically, but said “what’s a little broken gets more broken and that’s what happened here.” I asked for a diagnostic report and they gave me a slip of paper that said “TRANSMISSION WAS REMOVED, DIASSEMBLED, AND INSPECTED. REPLACEMENT IS RECOMMENDED.” That’s it. That’s all it said on the diagnostic report. I asked him to tell me what parts of the transmission are so broken that I can’t drive it out and he told me that the valve body is full of metal and one the varriators is bad and I won’t find a replacement varriator in the country. That’s fine, I guess, I don’t know anything about that.

My issue is that I took it in running fine for a diagnostic test and now it’s totalled. The transmission is in pieces in the trunk and tomorrow I’ll have to call a tow truck to get my car back to my house. Is this a normal thing to happen? I feel like it’s not normal to ask for a diagnostic and get your car back in pieces. Does the diagnosis sound correct? I haven’t been back to the shop since I dropped my car off so I don’t know what the transmission pieces actually look like.

Obviously I would not have agreed that they take the transmission out if that meant the car would not be able to drive again. I figured it just needed a fluid change and now here I am. Thanks for all your feedback and advice.

xx - L

Your vehicle has a continuous variable transmission.

And these have a history for failure.

The problem is, when these fail. nobody rebuilds these transmissions.

Instead they must be replaced with a new transmission.



Thanks! I read that article a few days ago, and I’m not surprised. It does seem like convenient timing that it fails at the mechanic shop…

For a CVT transmission, especially in a Nissan, YES, completely normal.

The problem you describe is a bad transmission. These types (CVTs)are not rebuilt, they are replaced. They are expensive and unreliable. IF the shop re-assembles the transmission and re-installs it, the car won’t move. The transmission is junk. So why should they bother? And would you pay them for their time if they did? (I doubt it)

1 Like


The transmission failed before you brought it there.

They just opened it up and saw the debris and knew it was done.


A transmission “teardown” is usually necessary to assess the damage and write a proper estimate, you agreed to the inspection. When you agree to the teardown inspection you are somewhat committed to have the transmission rebuilt or replaced.

The transmission was failing before the technician touched it, there is a reason you took the vehicle to the transmission shop.

1 Like

Even you state the transmission had a problem before you took it to the shop, that’s why you took it there.


Car part has rebuilt trans from $2100 to $2700 to $3200. I guess it’s based on how many parts are broke? Shop charged you $689 to remove trans. And 4800 to put a rebuilt one back? So, they want 5500 or so?

I personally think the transmission shop erred because they knew that something was wrong with the transmission, and that it was probably not fixable without a lot of $$$. They should have explained to him the best and worst cases, and the likelihood of each. They clearly know the issues with Nissans, and the odds of a cheap repair are very low. They gave him no chance to shop around. Are they going to charge the $689 if they don’t re-install the tranny?

The time to shop around is before the transmission is removed and disassembled. Once the transmission is out, you are in for a rebuild or replacement but can still choose a different shop. If the labor to remove and disassemble the transmission is $700, you can expect the rebuild/replacement and install to be thousands.

1 Like

If this is true, then surely you agree it is fraudulent for a shop to remove a CVT and disassemble it, since nothing of probative value is gained by this exercise? If the shop knows up front that anything more complicated than a fluid and filter change on this type of transmission necessitates a full replacement of the transmission, then it is their responsibility to communicate this fact to the consumer before any work is done. The consumer is not (legally) expected to be sophisticated enough to know this.

I find it highly disturbing that a shop would remove and tear down a transmission which–by their own admission–cannot be repaired or rebuilt by their personnel. If the only option is a new (remanufactured) transmission, then they should have told the consumer up front that “we can try a fluid and filter change for X number of dollars, but if that doesn’t help, then you will need to replace the transmission for Y number of dollars”. Expecting the customer to acquiesce to a high, unanticipated repair cost, or else tow their car home in pieces is simply not reasonable IMO.


I agree 100%. However, there are occasions when this waste of time and money are required, and some shops will simply approach this situation in the same manner every time, in an effort to maintain consistency or to potentially be able to answer any questions that may arise. For example:

Customer brought in a Grand Cherokee with a transfer case problem. We verified the electronics were OK, fluid had metal debris, mechanical internal failure, needs transfer case replacement. Customer presented his extended service contract, we submitted for repair, we were told that RDI (Remove, Disassemble to point of failure, Inspect) was needed. So the customer had to pay us to remove the transfer case, scatter it on the bench, and wait for the field inspector to come and examine. Not until after the inspector submitted his findings did the warranty company OK a replacement. And the customer was on the hook for the “diagnostic” foray.

The shop I managed tried to avoid this scenario if possible, but I can’t really fault a shop that sticks to the remove and teardown process 100% of the time for the sake of consistency. Because you don’t know if the unit can be repaired or needs to be replaced until you open it up.

And yes, CVT units are repairable, if parts are available.

I also wanted to add that this reeks of high pressure sales. I do not believe in high pressure sales tactics, either as a customer or as a contractor, and I would NEVER support any business which resorts to these type of tactics.

A more reasonable approach would have been to tell the customer up front that this type of transmission has a design life of X number of miles, and in actuality, they commonly fail around Y number of miles and are not field rebuildable. At that point, before the customer has incurred any expense, the mechanic could explain to the customer why a repair makes sense (assuming that it does) and a rough estimate of the cost. The customer could then make an informed decision as to whether they wish to invest that much money into their current car, or instead sell or trade it on something else.

But instead, the shop first rendered the car inoperable, and then quoted a high repair cost, which they knew–or should have known–that the customer did not expect to hear. And when the customer declined, they then made claims which are patently false (that the car would go another 10 years with a remanufactured transmission when it didn’t even go that long on the factory original transmission.)

I work in HVAC, and there are way too many contractors who use these type of high pressure sales tactics, which give the industry a bad name. It is one thing to tell a customer their air conditioner is 21 years into its 15 year design life, needs $850 worth of repairs to be functional, and that they should consider purchasing a new unit due to its age and overall condition. It is quite another thing to high pressure sell someone new equipment, often for a grossly inflated price, and often when it isn’t even legitimately needed.