Repair or kick to the curb



I have a 1994 Volvo 940 Turbo Wagon with 132K. The AC is dead. Radio donated to the local street punks. The real problem is that the transmission is going. Lots of slip, and its on again off again. My mechanic estimates that to replace the transmission is somewhere between $2000-3000 depending upon whether I get one used or one that’s been remanufactured and then of course there’s no guarantee. The rest of the car is in decent working order. The blue book on the car in current condition is only around $1000 given the torn seat and non-functioning power seat. Trade in, even in good condition is $600 or thereabouts.

So the question is whether I drive it into the ground, using it only to get around, and eventually get a new car, or do I put the $3K with no guarantees into fixing the old car.


$3000 with no guarantee on a $1000 car? Not even close. That’s like throwing $3000 into a raging fire.

I’d try a bottle of ‘Lucas Oil Transmission Fix’ for $10 or so dollars before spending that much money on this car. It’s a band-aid, but it may give you an extra couple of months. Take the $3000 and start shopping for the next perfect ride. Hopefully, the transmission will last long enough.


I put a rebuilt tranny in my 1993 940 Turbo Wagon at 155,000 miles. What is interesting is that it came from Volvo, and included a torque converter, something that not all rebuilts come with. Cost was about $2800. Still going strong at 216,000 miles.

You really have to like the car to spend that kind of money on a vehicle of that age. Fortunately, I do.


Our family keeps cars a very long time, but also uses sound financial analysis to decide when to put a vehicle out to pasture.

IF, and that’s a big IF, the rest of the car is near perfect (nothing on the horizon), and you really like it, it would be worthwhile to spend $2800 or so to do the transmission. That would still leave you exposed to all the other things that can go wrong with a Volvo at that age. If this was a non-turbo Japanese car, it would go another 100,000 miles without too many worries.

Personally, I would try to add the “elixir” mentioned, and basically drive it till it bites the dust. There are statistically too many things that can go wrong with this car in the next 2-3 years to make it worth keeping.