Looking for advice regarding options at this point for 1996 Buick Century 3.1V6 (113,926 miles)

I have a 1996 Buick Century 3.1V6 with 113,926 miles on it that I took in to a mechanic (a transmission specialist here in my hometown) to have a few things checked out (including a transmission system that was acting up) at the first part of this month. Here is what they found, and I quote:

“Vehicle has some damage to front, hood, bumper, headlights, and grill that were noted (did not inspect whole car.)…test drove vehicle - has slow engagements then loss of forward - growling plugging filter - no codes present - ATF fluid full, old, poor, and dead, hard to tell, also may be partially burnt - has multiple other oil leaks, possible rear main seal leaking - erratic idle and left front tie rod has excessive play - replacement recommended on transmission”

The cost of transmission replacement that I was quoted was a total P/L/Tax price of 1616.38. They also recommended removing and replacing the rear main seal (PLT $102.69), and removing and replacing the inner tie rod end (P/L/T $149.86).

Also worth noting: the car has 4 newer tires as of this last summer, and new brake lines as of this summer, only the front drivers side automatic window works properly, all automatic locks work fine except for the front drivers side that I have to open from the outside with the window rolled down, and there is some sort of leak or blockage in the windshield washer fluid system. Other than that, everything else works fine including the radio/CD player that I had installed a few years ago (2004), and the interior is clean and in good shape.

I have looked up fair condition values on Kelly Blue Book and I have found values of $1,634 (Private Party) and $1,009 (Trade In).

At this point, I am wondering what possible options could be to do with this car. I’ve considered selling it or trading it in (what would an appropriate asking price or trade in value be?), selling it as a parts/salvage car (again, appropriate asking price?), or simply donating it. Any and all tips and advice will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks all!


How about doing a transmission fluid and filter service first? It sounds like you’re way overdue.


Trade in value is nothing but they may dispose of it for you. That said, a junk yard may give you a couple hundred dollars for it because of the valuable metal in the catalytic converter. Don’t do ANY repairs. It’s moving day.

At this point I have to agree with @pleasedodgevan2. Even if you spend he $$ on this old car, it is at the piont where it will soon become a money pit. I doubt that a fluid & filter change will fix it. $200 is about right from a car crusher where they buy by the ton.

It served its purpose well until now. I would buy another car if you can afford more than the repairs mentioned. Otherwise, you already know this car. If you are happy with it in all other respects, it might be worth the cost to repair it. Only you can get the real right answer. We can help, but we aren’t there with you. If you must repair this car, get two more quotes on it.

I would do the transmission service, drain and fill, just to see if the transmission is salvagable. If it is, then address the driver’s door latch, which may be a 50 cent plastic clip holding the inner handle to the latch rod. Then the $149.86 for the inner tie rod makes sense. For the rear main seal, I’d try a stop leak product.

If the transmission doesn’t improve, then find another car. I wouldn’t spend $1600 on this car.