Should I fix my VW? Transmission is shot



Its a 98 VW Golf w/ 120k miles. A new tranny will run $3900 w/ labor. The car is otherwise solid. I’m the original owner. Should I hold on to it or retire it? Don’t have the $ for a new car and don’t really want car payments, but it’d be doable if I had to- what to do? Any opinions?


Let’s look at the choices.

  1. Sell it as is. You are not likely to get much out of it.

  2. Fix it and keep it. This sounds like the logical answer since you seem to like the car.

  3. Fix it and sell it. You are likely to get less out of it than it is really worth. A new transmission might even reduce the selling price as compared to one with just a working transmission.


Right now your car is about worthless, so this is the question you need to answer yourself. If you purchased a used car for $3900.00 would it be better then your car with a new transmission in it that cost $3900.00?


Exactly, from a purely economic point of view, it makes sense to keep fixing a car until the cost of the needed repair exceeds the value of the car. If you really like (or really dislike) the car the equation may be different.


Have you considered purchasing a used tranny? The cost is likely $1000-$1500 installed.


But how does one judge if the car is “worth” it? Take this case in point: I think what dirtydan is REALLY asking is what is the likelihood that he will get his money’s worth ($3900) from the '98 golf after installing the new tranny? Anyone have any experience with that?


IMHO, you look at what else you could buy for $3900 and decide if it’s better or worse than your current car. Doing a major repair on an old car is a risk, but so is buying a replacement old car.

The used transmission is an option, but I would only do that on a car I wasn’t going to keep long term.


I’m not a shill for in Michigan but I suggest that you call them to see what they can do regarding either a new or a used trans. You might ask if they can get you a rebuilt trans too. $3900 is not called for. You might want to tell your dealer that you have seen what you need about VW and repair part costs to see if he will bend a little.


$3900 sounds pretty close to me, that probably includes about $1000 (10 hours) of labor. Maybe you could get it done for $3000 t an independent shop, but it doesn’t change the equation that much.


I faced a similar situation 5 months ago with my 1996 GMC Jimmy with 160K. New tranny was $2500; I hated to put this into such an old car, but $2500 is a lot less than $25,000 for a new car. I am not in a position to get stuck making car payments right now, so I chose to replace the tranny.

You could also opt for a used car and spend more than $3900 but less than $25000 – an option I considered, but I like my car.


Don’t feel too bad, a few years back I spent about $4K putting a tranny in my 82 with about 275K miles. That car just turned over 400K miles and is running very strong. If the vehicle’s overall condition is good it’s usually worthwhile to fix it.