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New transmission or new car?

I have a 2001 Honda Civic, EX with 150,000 miles (my first new car!). A mechanic has confirmed that the transmission is shot (yea, I have heard about Honda’s bad rep for early trans. Bastards). The car has been well maintained (just put new brakes and tires!) and I am really sad that this car did not last longer. We have had 6 estimates for a rebuilt trans. all about $2500. So, it is worth it? Or should I just take the money and put it toward a new car (thinking Subaru Outback)? If I do say no to transmission, what should I now do with dead car? How much would car with dead transm. be worth? Thanks much. Emily

If you want to get rid of it, put it on craigslist and sell it as is, with full disclosure. You won’t get much, but you should get more than scrap value for it. Do NOT part it out, this will be the longest and most arduous route you could go

I don’t know, if it truly has been well cared for and everything else is in pretty good shape $2500 is not a bad price for an '01 Civic with 150K on it and a newly rebuilt transmission. Go price the insurance premiums you will pay on a new Outback alongside of, of course, the car payments and in some places property tax. You’ll make it to $2500 fast.

But you will get varying opinions. I tend to fix things rather than junk them (anything from shoes to electronics to cars). Others don’t.

Out of curiosity is your mechanic a transmission specialist? What does s/he say is wrong? What is the transmission doing?

When it comes to automatics I don’t think 150K is all that bad - you got more than many and I’m not sure it makes Honda bastards.

Bummer of a situation. I just paid about that much last winter to rebuild the transmission on my 2001 Grand Am. The good news is I’m likely to get another 2-ish years out of it before I’m ready to trade it in and buy new. The risk is that you don’t know what’s about to fail next and end up throwing good money after bad. Since rebuilding the trans, I’ve replaced wheel bearings, some cosmetic work and no the AC is shot. I do most my own work so I’m only out a bunch of Saturdays and the cost of parts - the AC is another story though. That will likely still be broke when I dump it. So what you need to consiser is are you better off unloadng it for a pittance, fixing and unloading, or fixing and continuing to put work into the car until you’re ready to be done with it.

Good luck!

I would recommend a used transmission. JDM trannies can be had on or ebay for well under $1000 delivered. if you have a local u-pull-it junk yard, go take a look, you might get lucky and find a transmission for even less. Of course, then you have the adventure of jacking up the car and making the swap. A trip to your local library may yield a Haynes or Chiltons (I recommend the Chiltons) manual. Don’t start the project until you have read the instructions and know what you’re in for. This is something that will require some jack stands, a shop crane helps (but not absolutely required if you have a couple big floor jacks you can lower it out the bottom with some cussing) If this sounds like more adventure than you’d like to take on, see if you can find a ‘good ol boy’ to do it for you…

Private party value in good condition is $4000. Have someone put a used transmission in yours and sell it.

I’d put a good rebuilt transmission in the car and keep it for a few more years. You didn’t mention how often the old trans got the fluid changed over the years. If you want your new rebuilt trans to last the fluid replacement interval is every 30K miles. Also, Honda trans fluid is best for a Honda trans. If you had the old trans serviced by quick lube it might have died due to a refill with generic fluid.

That car has a lot of use left in it, and $2500 for a new trans beats $22,000 for a Subaru Outback.

I’d fix the Civic and continue driving it.

You’ll pay a LOT more over time to maintain an Outback than you’re used to with your Civic.

Selling a car with a non-functioning transmission won’t get you much money.

I’d build the trans and keep it. DO NOT buy rebuilt transmissions from auto parts stores or online. Those $1000 cheapies are exactly that, a CHEAPIE. You get what you pay for. Stick with local builders and/or local small trans shops. Stay away from large chain trans shops.


Thank you all for your great input and advice; it has been very helpful. So, to answer the question about transm. fluid replacement–I checked with my husband and he said yes, we have several times replaced the fluid with mechanic (not quickie place). I feel the same way as cigroller–we too would rather fix things than just throw them away especially if there is not much else wrong with car (not to mention, I hate car payments!). I know 150,000 is a lot of miles, but we just feel like this machine is not ready for the graveyard yet. So, we found a good transmission place (not a chain) and we decided to have them look at it and see what they think. In the meantime we are going to test drive some subaru foresters and outbacks (but I see that the 2010 outbacks have some kind of transm recall. Ugh). I am just sad that Honda’s transmission died on us–I really did not expect this when I bought the car new…alas. Luckily we live along the Minuteman bike path in Arlington, Mass and both of us can bike to work or bus it.
So, what are the big questions I should be asking about a rebuilt transmission? And many thanks in advance.