Fix Trans vs Sell



My '98 Honda Odyssey w/165K miles, needs a trans. Local talent says $2400-$3K. Otherwise the car is fine. But it’s not worth the repair cost as a trade-in or to sell. What the thing that will help me decide?




If the van is otherwise in good condition and has been well maintained, I would not hesitate to fix it. It is almost always cheaper to keep your current vehicle and fix the problems than it is to buy a new or different car. Unless you are looking for a good reason to replace it just for the sake of replacing it and having something different, I would fix it. Think about it: three grand to fix this van, or thirty grand to get a new one? Decisions, decisions…


If the rest of the car is OK, just fix the transmission and keep driving. A rust-free Odessey is not a fashion statement to begin with and Hondas do give very long and reliable service. A relative of mine still drives his 1987 Honda Accord. He can afford to pay cash for any car Honda sells.

I would not get hung up on trade-in or resale value. I would compare it with the monthly payments ($500 per montx12=$6000 in a year) on a new Honda or the first year’s depreciation on a new Honda.


In accounting this is an “extraordinary repair” and increases the asset’s life, so it isn’t treated as an expense believe it or not.

So think of it as investing capital in to your machinery and in return you get many more years of good service.


I find it interesting how the responses differ for a Honda vs a domestic brand here. I’d wager a GM with a bad transmission would get recommendations to dump it.

But I agree with the general advice - its resale value is pretty much scrap value right now. Replacing/rebuilding the transmission will move its value back up to around $3880 (kbb). If it’s only worth $500 as scrap, replacing the transmission would actually result in an increase in resale equal to the cost of the replacement.

Even if that were not the case, my general rule of thumb is to consider how many months you can expect to get trouble-free after the repair. If it costs $3000 for the fix and you can expect to get 15-18 months or more trouble free, then its cheaper than a new car (depreciated straight-line over 10 years).

So if you can get a warranty of 2-3 years with the fix and you can avoid getting into accidents, its worth it.

If they won’t warranty the work, I’d dump it - these transmissions were known for significant repeated problems. I have coworkers who were on their 3rd or 4th transmission by the time they were at your Odyssey’s mileage.


I guess I’m the odd ball, but I wouldn’t spend the money for a new transmission in a vehicle with this many miles on it, regardless of brand, and I’m a Honda owner.


It all has to do with “estimated remaining economical productive life”. That’s a maintenance term. A Cobalt has a much shorter design life as a Civic or Corolla. So is a major repair is needed on Civic at 100,000 miles it is usually worth doing since they will go at least 100,000 more miles.

The Cobalt or Cavalier on the other hand, will have many thing starting to fail at 100,000 miles like gas gauge, speedometer, ABS brakes, trim, etc. I’ve seen this happen first hand. So a major trnasmission overhaul normally send the Cavalier to the crusher, while the Civic or Corolla will soldier on for another 100,00 miles or so.

The French Air Force has an old Douglas DC-3, the WW II Dakota workhorse. This plane has gone through 11 sets of engines! And is still merrily flying around distributing supplies and ferrying soldiers.


I’ve seen too many Civics/Camrys/Accords, etc hauled off to the junkyard because of chronic problems to say that I’d agree that they would last “at least 100,000 more miles” with such a major repair.

But I certainly would never spend that sort of cash on a Cobalt or Cavalier. Could you have picked a worse vehicle to compare this with? :slight_smile:


As a point of information, junk-yards are FULL of Hondas and other mostly FWD cars with failed transmissions…Unless you repair the transmission, that’s where your car is going…It has only salvage value the way it is…About $100.

Honda automatics are tricky to rebuild. Before you lay out $3K, make sure the technician who is going to do the work knows what he is doing…Things can get sideways real fast…


Caddyman is right the epidemic of car failures that send them to the scrapyard, is mostly automatics which have not been maintained. Frontwheel drive cars have very compact transmissions that don’t take abuse well and need regular maintenance.

My 1965 Dodge Dart was scrapped after 13 years and 154,000 miles because the body had completely rusted out and the engine had lost compression. But the transmission (Torqueflite) was still rock solid, even with 6 years of trailer towing. Those days are gone. A friend last year scrapped a perfectly good 20 year old Madzda 626 (125,000 miles)which only needed a transmission, but the cost was prohibitive ($3000+).

On this forum we have been spending a lot of time on oil changes; a good topic, but we should maybe spend a lot more time on transmission service, since the manufacturers put out very MISLEADING maintenance intervals in their owners manuals, and others do not even allow access to check the fluid.


I’m with “mcparadise”…that’s just the rational I would use to get a newer vehicle with better features. You guys who keep your cars forever are killing the economy and my stock investments ! :frowning:


After reading all these replys I have to ask, who the heck would you sell it to?



I’m tired of seeing transmissions with 60,000+ mile service intervals. Or some of the newer ones they claim are “sealed for life”. Yeah, that life isn’t likely to be that long.

What’s so hard about changing fluid every 2 years or so? It isn’t that expensive. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a new transmission. Heck, I pull a little over 50% of the fluid back up the dipstick every year and refill. Costs me ~$25. Drop the pan every 3-4 years or so. My fluid has ALWAYS looked clean, and I’ve never had any appreciable debris in the pan.