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New transmission or new car?

I have a 2002 lexus rx 300 with 165000 miles. The transmission has died and I have to fix or buy another car. It is going to cost around $4500 to repair because it is AWD. It has been a very good car, not too many major repairs until now. Do I fix it or put a downpayment on a new car.

After a LOT of shopping around, I had the transmission in my Odyssey rebuilt for $1,600. The dealer wanted over $6,000 to replace it. Stay away from dealers but find somebody who will fix it for less money.

Get a second opinion if you’re thinking of spending that much money/dumping the car.
With a busted transmission, it will not worth anything.

if the rest of the car is in good shape, and you can get a good deal on the trans, then the only reason to get a new car is if you want a new car.

I’m totally in agreement with @nebin, if all else is good or very good, and if you like the car and it suits your needs, then repairing is a wise option. Before you make that choice however it would be best to get some assessment of the car’s condition. How is your oil consumption? Do you change oil and coolant per the owners manual schedule? What other repairs have you done lately? I’d encourage you to get a compression test done on the engine, and have a suspension specialty shop assess all the steering components to see if you have a major problem looming.

If however this car doesn’t suit your needs, then start investigating the market for what the car would be worth with a rebuilt transmission, and do the math to see if it makes sense to fix and sell. Of those two choices, fix and keep makes more sense I think, but it’s all about the math.

Either way, find an independent transmission shop (not a national chain) for price comparison. Was the $4500 for a brand new transmission, or buying a rebuilt, or having yours rebuilt? Was this a dealer price? If so, then you can probably save substantially at a locally owned quality transmission shop by having them rebuild the transmission, which should be a totally adequate option…

If the car is nice shape I personally would be inclined to replace the transmission RX300 is a really nice vehicle especially compared to new non-luxury SUV’s.

This is the time-bomb waiting to go off in all these newer vehicles with complex and difficult to repair drive-trains…If it’s any consolation, salvage yards are full of cars just like yours…This is one of the reasons pick-up trucks have become so popular…A 2WD stick-shift P/U will run forever…

A decent well maintained car which still suits your needs and does not have other problems is nearly always worth getting the tranny rebuilt.

.If it's any consolation, salvage yards are full of cars just like yours

That’s a load of cr*p. These transmissions are as good or better then transmission made in the past 30 years. I don’t where you keep getting your information from Caddyman. I can assure you there are NO salvage yards full of these vehicles. I tried to fine a drivers side mirror for my neighbors Camry…I was able to find a total of 5 in a 100 mile radius. Unfortunately none had usable mirror…They were all wrecked. We finally found one in Connecticut. And it was rear-ended. If there were all these transmission failures…The junk yards would be loaded with Camry’s and Lexus’s of that era in this area…They outsell most other mid-size vehicles by a lot.

Thanks for all the comments. I guess because I stalled in making a decision (or whatever), my mechanic came down to $3500 on the price. I did shop around at transmission shops and that was the going price. Only thing is my mechanic is giving me a 3yr, 100000mile warranty while the other shops where only 2yr, 24000mile warranty. So bottom line, I am getting the Lexus repaired. Hopefully, without any more problems it will go to over 200000miles. Thanks for the help.

Would like to know HOW it failed. If you had the transmission changed every 30-40k miles…then this shouldn’t have happened. Are you keeping up with maintenance on the tranny??

I took my car in for its regular maintenance. I assumed that the mechanics were taking care of my car. Are you telling me that after 11 years and 165000 miles my transmission should not have failed if it was properly serviced?

“I took my car in for its regular maintenance.”

According to the Owner’s Maintenance Schedule transmission fluid needs to be changed every 60k miles, only if the vehicle is used for towing.
Otherwise there’s no scheduled trans fluid change for 150k miles.

This is typical of a car maker recommending only enough maintenance to get through the warranty period.

If this is all the mechanics did for your transmission then yes, It made it through the warranty period.

Are you telling me that after 11 years and 165000 miles my transmission should not have failed if it was properly serviced?

YES…but @circuitsmith makes a good point. Many manufacturers are NOT recommending tranny fluid changes like they once were. My 4runner has no recommended fluid change interval. In fact it’s a sealed unit with no dip-stick, But I still change the fluid every 40k miles. I currently have over 210k miles on it and it’s showing now signs of problems. My wife’s 07 Lexus has about 120k miles…and again…no recommended tranny fluid change…but I change it every 40k miles anyways. Toyota is NOT the only manufacturer that does this. Most manufacturers have this type of tranny fluid recommendation.

@MikeInNH your mileage indicates lots of likely easy highway or backroads type driving not city.

8yrs/150k failure rates goes up with automatics especially those used in short hops, traffic, and city. Lastly this is a FWD chassis/car automatic adapted to a heavier SUV which increases stress. Honda V6 got nailed by this in the early 2000’s. Dodge minivans also. Toyota mixed and likely best of lot. I asked a local transmission shop when shopping for a used SUV/Minivan what they see most of while considering a very inexpensive 04 Honda Pilot with a failed transmission.

@MikeInNH your mileage indicates lots of likely easy highway or backroads type driving not city.

About 70% highway,…but most of my driving on the highway is during rush hour on I93 and 128 north of Boston…which basically is stop and go.

My wife’s commute is almost exclusively back roads…and her 2 Accords both had over 250k miles…with one well voer 300k miles…and no problems what-so-ever. Her current Lexus has over 120k miles and it’s running perfectly.

I think the OP’s problem is that it wasn’t maintained correctly. If we maintained our current automatics according to the manual…I’m not sure how long they’ll last. Both of our current vehicles use the WS fluid which Toyota considers a life-time fluid. I simply don’t buy that.