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Repair or replace vehicle

My well maintained 1998 Isuzu Rodeo has developed a front main seal leak, and the automatic transmission often will not shift into overdrive. With 135,000 miles, I’m hesitant to learn what the repairs may cost. Would it be better to repair or replace the vehicle?

Well, 135k is not a lot of mileage nowadays, but–IMHO–the ultimate question in this case is…
In what type of condition is the rest of this 18 year old vehicle?

How much rust is there on the body and on the frame?
Does the engine burn oil, and if so–how much does it burn?
What is the condition of the front end?
What is the condition of the exhaust system?

If this vehicle has been excellently maintained, and if all of the answers to the above questions indicate that other areas of the vehicle are still in good condition, then it might be worthwhile to spend the big bucks that would be necessary for a transmission rebuild. However, if any of the answers to those questions indicate that other repairs will be coming up in the near future, then I think that it would be foolish to spend more on repairs than the actual value of the vehicle.

Call around and get estimates and then decide if it is worth it to you. Your the only one who can make that call, I would dump it but my neighbor would fix it.

Excellent advise from VOLVO V70. When you have a $$ number for repairs you can make your decision. My youngest Son’s 2001 Ford F-350 had trouble shifting into 4/OD. He took it to a recommended independent shop. They replaced the shift solenoid for $160 and it has been working fine for 5 years.

Repairing the front leak would set you back about $900-$1000 and a transmission overhaul about $4000. I would not do either, if you actually need the transmission fixed. Get a second opinion though.

As others say, what else is wrong with the car and what shape is it in generally?

A friend of mine scrapped a perfectly good Mazda 6 because the transmission failed. The car only had 70,000 mile son it, but was 10 years old.

Don’t throw good money after bad!!!

A front main seal costs around 25 bucks… Installation is a different story. If you do your own work, its not a complex job really. As for the overdrive…If your overdrive has an on off button…it may just be a fuse. If its not the fuse its the solenoid on the transmission…which could be internal…or better still external on the transmission.

Its hard for me to answer your question on what to do with it… Personally if I didn’t work on my own vehicles, or didn’t know how to or whatever… Honestly I wouldnt own a vehicle. But thats me. Being somewhat mechanically skilled there really are few problems alone that would dictate getting rid of any vehicle before I was good and ready. I tend to just repair whatever is needed. If you have to go to the garage to get air in the tires then its a whole different ball game.


How much is the front main seal leaking? Put cardboard or a pan under it to get an idea. There are high mileage motor oils and additives that can reduce seal leakage. I have used these in my 1999 Honda Civic for a year or so. There is less leakage now, and I feel it’s a long way from needing to go to the great lengths (remove transmission, etc.) required to replace a barely leaking seal.

For transmission questions I suggest a locally owned transmission shop that’s been in business a long time. Many transmission troubles can be fixed or helped by steps short of an overhaul.

You might find vehicle-specific advice on an Isuzu Rodeo discussion group.


I’m not sure if you’re aware of this . . . but the front main seal is at the front of the engine, not at the rear

It’s the front crankshaft seal, at the balancer

The rear main seal is at the rear, at the flexplate/flywheel

The way you were mentioning removing the transmission, it sounds like you were thinking of the rear

If you can do the repairs yourself? Go for it!

But if you’re paying someone like me to keep this this vehicle on the road? It’s going to cost a lot of money.

We’re talking about a 20 year old Isuzu!

Time to move on.


db4690: Correct. OP stated front crank seal. If it’s minor on that old of a Rodeo I would just monitor and call it normal.

db4690, you’re right. I thought of my Honda’s leaking rear seal and forgot the OP was dealing with a front seal. In either case it may be a small problem to be monitored and maybe ameliorated with additive or high mileage oil.

I’m going to disagree about the additives or high mileage oil

Since the front crankshaft seal is “fairly” accessible, I’d just replace it, and keep using regular oil

Additives or high mileage oil could theoretically cause seals that are still okay to swell. I’m wondering if that might hasten the demise of those seals which are still okay

Mooney pilot: My Niece bought a first year 1988 Rodeo. The last time I saw her in 2012 she still had it although it had not been her daily driver for a few years. If your Rodeo is still running good and has a minor oil leak with an inexpensive transmission repair I would drive it until it died. I live in an Airpark. My next door neighbor has a Mooney Cadet. A few years ago he restored a Mooney 4 seater then sold it.

"I live in an Airpark."

Besides speed, I was always startled when a Mooney took off. The speed at which the mechanical landing gear retracted was spooky.