Repair or replace? '99 Lexus RX 300 w/ blown transmission

The transmission in my 1999 Lexus RX300 with 160K mile blew up yesterday. (No reverse, no neutral, incredible noise.) We called around to some recommended shops (no dealers) for quotes - $4000+ to replace with a rebuilt one. Other than that, the car’s in good condition but the book value is only $3K-4K. It will soon need a new timing belt/water pump - another $1000 plus my husband’s afraid we’ll soon have start replacing belts, etc.

If I got a new car, I would want a reasonably priced (< $35K incl fees, taxes) hybrid since I do a lot of city driving plus it must have AWD/4WD. The local streets are very steep here and treacherous in winter. The limited choices are too expensive and don’t get great mileage even with the hybrid. I know Subaru is coming out with one in a few months, but we would need to buy something within a week or two.

There is one option in used cars - a pre-2013 Ford Escape Hybrid. (I found a 2010 w/ 56K mi for about $21K.) Ford discontinued the hybrid option for 2013. Does anyone know why? My husband is leery of buying it because he doesn’t think Ford is that experienced in hybrids. And I’m thinking that if it was a good car, why did they stop making them?

So, is it worth fixing the 15 yr old Lexus (book value 3000-$4000) or should we put the $5000+ into a new car or a used Ford Escape Hybrid? Thanks.


I vote for repairing your Lexus

You have a 1MZ-FE V6, which is very reliable, provided you change the oil on time and stay on top of maintenance. Provided you don’t let things get out of hand, I believe you will easily get 250K out of the engine.

Do the timing belt and water pump when it is due, service the trans fluid every 30K and soldier on

This is a difficult one. As much as you say the rest of the car is in good condition, it is 14 years old. Also whatever you get will get better gas mileage (check on to calculate your savings). I have ridden in Hybrid Escape cabs with 300+K miles and they were in pretty good shape. I always would ask the owner if everything major was original and got positive response. This was in DC with a lot of stop & go traffic.
I would also look at a Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

Let’s talk money. U drive a 3-4k car. Not exactly luxury territory. U may buy a 35k car? Loan? Cash? If cash, than I think u are not living check to check. So, dropping 3k on repair may be easy? SO many comments on this site are about money. Is car worth it? Is repair worth it? Am I getting ripped off? How can I fix car for cheap? And so on.

How many miles? It’s a hard call to make.

As for the used Escape hybrid, I’m not a fan of used hybrids, any make. Ford replaced it with the C Max hybrid, but that’s only FWD.

Me, I’d look at the Mazda CX-5 with AWD and the 2.5 l engine. Good economy, fun to drive. But not a Lexus.