Fix or Sell

Have a 2002 Hyundai Sonata GLS, 4D w/163,000 mi. Recently When starting noise led to mechanic saying it needs catalytic converter, yesterday the car bucked after starting up at a light, then went into Limp Mode at the next light; check engine light on; coasted to station, Picked up today; able to drive it home; Told the Error Code was PO741 We Checked Book Value = Fair to Poor Condition = $2200+/-; can get rebuilt transmission for about $1500 and cat for about $300. Do I fix, try to sell or donate?

I would sell it for parts. Hyundai has been steadily improving but this Sonata is 13 years old and putting 2K into a vehicle like this doesn’t make much sense. The cat replacement is basically a shot in the dark and the CEL might still be there after the replacement. I’d move on.

Yup, time for the boneyard.

“book value” is somewhat irrelevant. the question is what will you get to replace it and for how much, or what are you going to do with the Hyundai? a thorough mechanical evaluation by your favourite independant machanic could help you make this very personal decision.
if the rest of the car was in good to great condition, instead of “fair to poor”, it might be worth fixxing. shop around, you could save some by finding a good used transmission. $300 for a new cat. sounds cheap enough. a second opinion would not be a waste. but, if you could drive this for another 3-5 years, would you want to?

IF the rest of the car is in serviceable shape, $2000 is not unreasonable to keep driving it. Realize you will probably average $1000/yr to keep it on the road, but that is still way cheaper than new car payments. The obvious downside is one or two breakdowns a year (which is why I personally wouldn’t do it). It depends on how “breakdown-averse” you are.

PO741 can be triggered by low or dirty fluid, faulty torque converter clutch solenoid valve harness, connector, shorted out or the valve itself or internal mechanical problems. Check out Here in Wisconsin a used AT with 100k miles or less can be had for less than $300 plus install. Always start by checking with the easiest possible cause first. A coworker of mine had similar problems with his vehicle (not a Hyundai) and it turned out the cat converter was very plugged up. That is what the mechanic told him. The cat was replaced and then it ran fine.