Fix it or nix it?

I’m entering my last year of graduate school, and I have a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee with 183,000 miles on it. Just found that I need a new transfer case, it’s going to set me back around $2,000. The car has been in my family since it was new, and it’s been well-maintained it’s entire life: regular oil changes, I put new tires on it last summer, a couple of minor dings. I’m not sure it there are any other problems with it at this point, and I’d really like to make it last at least one more year (until I’m out of school). Do I spend the money and fix it, or start searching for a new car?

That seems high to swap in a used transfer case. Who gave you the estimate? What’s included?

I agree with @texases because Jeep Grand Cherokee parts are abundant and cheap…at least where I live anyway. Why buy new when used will do? After all…you are driving a used vehicle. So my vote is to fix it.

Based on my experience, I would fix it. When I was in graduate school, I had a 5 year old 1965 Rambler. A snap ring broke in the manual transmission, which damaged the synchronizer, the main drive gear and the transmission shaft. I was debating what I should do. I finally decided that the repair of $175 or something like that made more sense than buying a new or newer used car. The Rambler not only lasted through my graduate coursework, but I kept the car 2 years after completing my graduate work. The money I saved by not buying a new car allowed us, when I had my graduate degree, to make a good down payment on a house.
Unless you have a long commute, you won’t be driving a lot of miles, so in my opinion, the repair makes sense.

Fix it it’s cheaper than a good used car and you know what you have. Get another estimate or two. Make sure you get a reputable shop to do the work.

I hadn’t even given thought to finding a used transfer case. The jeep dealership in my hometown told me that the cheapest they could do would be to buy a new transfer case, which comes with a 3-year warranty and would cost around $2,000 including a few hours of labor. I haven’t had time yet to look for other places/repair guys, but I will look! I don’t drive it a lot when I’m at school, but I do have quite a lot of driving to do yet this summer (1500-2000 miles). Thank you everyone for your comments!

Yeah, dealerships will always use new stuff. Usually from the approved distribution system, which will cost you 2 to 2-1/2 times what it should.

Swap it out for a used Xfer case. At a reputable independent shop. You’ll easily save hundreds. Maybe thousands.

My vote is for rounding up a used unit and swapping it out. Check eBay and you will likely find them listed in droves for comparatively little money. The search feature will allow you to peruse the ones listed locally.

Before buying anything also make sure it’s interchangeable with the one in the vehicle. If you buy a used unit from a salvage yard their interchange system can verify the correct fit.
Some salvage yards will even install the unit for a nominal fee and guarantee it to be problem-free.
Most yards do not do installs but some do so it’s something you could check out.

The reason dealers use new parts and units is because the car manufacturers would prefer that their reputation not be tarnished due to the use of used parts or parts over which they have no say in the manufacturing process.
If a dealer uses a Brand X part procured from a local parts house and if the part fails the customer will not only blame the dealer but may also assume the car manufacturer had a hand in it.

Most boneyards now are connected to a database that lists various direct-fit assemblies, where they’re located, and are able to get them for you. It’s almost like a clerk at Sears can find out what Sears store has the item you need and get it shipped to the local store… except with a boneyard, they can also cross-reference for you the interchangeability data. They can even tell you exactly what will be a direct fit. Sears was unable to even get me the right shocks… after two tries.

I agree with everyone else hear that say to fix it. With only 183,000 miles you could get another 70’000 out of it.

The price does sound high, so you might want to find a independent shop, or ask around, there might be a few guys at school that may be knowlegable enough…it’s not that big a job.
Be aware though that a shop might balk at the job, unless they find the part from someone that they trust…or they will not warranty the trans case.


"Yeah, dealerships will always use new stuff. Usually from the approved distribution system, which will cost you 2 to 2-1/2 times what it should. "

Dealership new parts have the Jeep logo on them, come in the Jeep box, and the dealership has a higher labor rate

No comparing that to used parts from the junk yard

Not a valid comparison, in my opinion

Rebuilt T-cases are about $1200 to $1500 and labor would get it to $2K pretty easily to R&R it. Used would be fine, too and should save another $500 to $800. This gets the job down to 3-4 car payments for a nice used car as opposed to 36 to 60 car payments.

As I told my niece this very last weekend with a similar dilemma; Why would you spend $6 to $12,000 to fix a $1500 problem?

You might check out what’s available at - it lists used parts from junkyards all over the country. You’ll need to know whether you have the ‘Command-trac’ or the ‘Select-trac’ system. Either way, I found lots under $500 in my area.

This a good time to learn that dealerships are good for some repairs, but very expensive for others. Something like this is a great repair for an independent shop, you’ll save big $$.