Replace/rebuild transmission or?

Looking for advice on what path to take for my 2008 Toyota Sienna minivan. Recently had a leak due to a failed seal on the transfer case. Had the extensive and very costly repair done at Toyota ($2k, and it was there for over a week. Apparently they have to drop the whole engine and Transaxle to access the seal). Hadn’t noticed any other issues with the van until it went. From the day I got it back it was making a loud sound from under the hood that can either sound like whining or grinding. Louder at lower speeds and when accelerating. Took it back to Toyota within a couple days of picking it up and drove around with the tech and they threw it up on the lift briefly and listened and said the sound was coming from the transmission. I was suspicious of the fact that the problem was only apparent after they had it for a week and did that major work on it but they Shrugged their shoulders and said it has a lot of miles it needs a new transmission. :/. I wondered if some of the gear oil had gotten into the transmission and asked if they change the transmission oil as part of the repairs they did. They said no. I had the transmission fluid changed at an independent shop to see if that would help. I also asked them if they could tell what was wrong with it. They didn’t say much other than it will need a new transmission at some point, they are not sure when. Didn’t give a good explanation for the sound imo. The change in fluid made no difference.
So to my question, do I replace or rebuild the transmission for likely $4k? I still owe $4k on the van. Do I trade it in and maybe get $1000 for it I enroll what I owe into a new payment (which may very well put a payment over what I can afford), do I tried to sell it privately and disclose what I know about the issues what I know about the issues? If I do that I would need to pay it off so I have the title in hand… And not sure what I could get for it with the issues. Or do I dump the $4,000 or so into it and hope to God that nothing else goes out on it? With how many miles it has on it How likely is that? Is it just going to be a giant Money Pit with one thing going out after another at this point?

It is not necessarily the transmission, so to speak, It could be the front differential, I think a second opinion by a qualified shop is in order, but certainly check fluid levels first, as you may go from $1400 to $3500 really quickly.

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Given what you owe, I’d look into a replacement transmission. A used transmission will be less expensive than a rebuilt one, but probably won’t last as long. Find a good transmission shop and get an evaluation. You probably have to pay for the evaluation, but it’s worth it to get an honest estimate of what you need to set your van straight.

Thanks for the input. I’m not sure what a qualified shop would be. I could take it to a different Toyota? Or a different transmission shop? I want to feel confident about what’s wrong with it and at this point I definitely don’t. I did take it to a transmission shop and just had the transmission fluid replaced. The guy said it was contaminated with gear oil from the leak. Is there other fluid levels I should have checked? I’d like to assume when he changed the fluid he did it at the correct level. I’ll look back at my paperwork but I’m quite sure the differential fluid was changed as part of the service at Toyota.

Thanks for the input. I’ll try to find an honest and reasonable transmission shop. I don’t feel like I got a satisfactory answer from the one I took it to. I did pay for a diagnostic there and also for the transmission fluid change… Yet another $350 down the drain.

Do NOT take it to a big name franchised transmission shop

Find an independent shop that specializes in that kind of service

given what you still owe . . . and the fact that you’ll definitely get hosed if you trade in . . . I say get your transmission repaired/overhauled. In fact, perhaps you can get YOUR transmission overhauled, versus a swap

Whatever you pay for diagnosis might go towards the repair, should you choose to go with a particular shop.

I believe ATRA is an association of transmission rebuilders. Maybe a shop would have that logo displayed?

If you live in an area with snow and road salt in the winter then you might want to look underneath before considering dropping much money in this van. I owned a 2004 Sienna and it started eating parts (and money) around 180,000 miles at ten years of age. I ended up with a rotten subframe under the engine that cost me over $1,500 on top of the $1,500 I was spending on regular maintenance and repair (timing belt, water pump, spark plugs, and a steering shaft that was binding). I finally sold that beast last year with 227,000 miles because the frame under the rear suspension was showing signs of rust decay. Our winters destroy cars at around the ten year mark, regardless of how much washing and waxing you do, unless you drive very few miles (and I drive a ton of miles each year).

Thanks for the input! I don’t live where it snows though… The van is now 10 years old and at 170000 Miles I am definitely concerned about increasing costs of repairs. In the past year I have spent approximately $4,000 on it in repairs and replacing the tires. It needs the rear brakes done very soon if I get the transmission fixed and start driving it again. With still owing $4,000 on it, and needing to dump likely $4,000 into it for the transmission and having spent $4,000 this year already on it I just don’t know. What I really want is to just get rid of the damn thing. But I don’t know if that’s feasible or the best choice in the long run.