Should I fix the paid-off car or buy a new one?

Hello all!
Just for some clarity, I drive (or drove) a 2011 Nissan Versa with 120,000 miles on it (bought it used from a rental place a few years ago) and am on a very low income.

My car is having transmission issues that were estimated to cost upwards of $3,400, per Firestone. I just paid it off recently and hate the thought of trading it in so soon after, even though I know it might be necessary.

My problem is when I try to get a trade-in value for my car, its anywhere from $100 to $2400.

I don’t know which I should chance-Finding a used car place to purchase another one with whatever mine’s actual trade in value is? Or somehow find the money to get my current car fixed so I don’t have to worry about monthly payments again?

Thanks for any advice!

I believe I’d take it to a shop that specializes in transmissions and get a quote.

With only 120k miles, I’d probably repair it if it’s in good shape otherwise

Fwiw, $100 is less than scrap value!

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I agree. do not take it to firestone for a transmission problem. firestone just wants to put a new transmission in. go to a reliable transmission where they will diagnosis the problem and possible repair it for a lot less money.

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I am going to agree with everyone’s opinion here. Take it to a reputable transmission shop and ask for the second opinion. Sometimes it sucks when you have already paid for diagnosis, but it is really worth getting another opinion and paying a few hundred dollars to confirm and get a competing quote. Ask you friends and family for a suggestion, I bet you they have someone that they can personally recommend if you put the question out there.

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Welcome to the community by the way!! This is a perfect place to ask this excellent question, there are a lot of folks on here with great industry experience to share.

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Find a shop that is a member of ATRA (American transmission rebuilders assoc) you can find one at atra.com. do NOT go to any franchise operation like Lee Myles, Cottman, or Aamco. And btw, the ONLY reason to go to a Firestone is to buy tires.

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A Nissan remanufactured transmission is $2500 plus fluid and shop supplies plus 9 hours labor. Have it replaced at a Nissan dealer, more experience and better warranty.

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I’ve had a lot of people tell me to avoid dealerships and big companies like Goodyear or Firestone, because they charge more than is necessary. Is there any truth to that? I’m so confused! :frowning:

Thanks! Yes I’ve been researching my area all evening for reputable repair shops for a second opinion.

Dealers are usually more expensive than independent shops. Firestone doesn’t specialize in transmissions, they do several different things. I’d want either an independent shop that specializes in transmissions (“Joe’s Transmission Repair”, for a made up example) or the dealer to do it. The general consensus on the chain transmission shops (Cottman, Aamco) is that they will say you need a new transmission regardless of the actual problem and tend to not do the best work. I have no experience with them myself.

I like Nevada’s dealer suggestion if the price doesn’t vary much from a good independent transmission shop. Might be good to get a second opinion at the dealership. Then if they say you need a new transmission, have them quote the job and tell you what the warranty will be. Then call a local independent, tell them you need the transmission replaced in your car, and compare their quote and warranty.

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There is less labor to replace parts, even if they are expensive ones like that transmissions. Fixing transmissions mean diagnosis costs to you and may still mean transmission replacement. Dealers will more likely suggest a new replacement transmission especially since they represent the manufacturer. If you do need another transmission, it might make sense to have a used transmission installed. You can continue to drive your car or sell it after that. Putting in a replacement transmission will also raise the value of your car compared to your car with a dead transmission.

Two stories: Our son drove down to meet us in Florida some years ago and developed some engine problems. The only place that could get us in on our timeline was Firestone. While there a lady came in complaining about her brakes that had just been completely overhauled by the guys. They replaced the coil along with a laundry list of other stuff that I just took care of myself, like plugs and wires. Yeah they fixed it OK but it was $350 just for a coil plus I suppose for the time it took to write everything else up that they wanted to do. I did not trust them.

#2, in 1981 I paid $10,000 for my diesel Olds. Two years later with 60K on it, I talked to the dealer about trading for a non-diesel. They offered me $2500. I got mad and kept it for 480,000 miles. It was a costly pain the whole time but I showed them. Probably would have been better off taking the $2500.

So I don’t know how the longevity or reliability of the Versas are but sometimes you just have to take the hit and move on to something better. If it can be restored to reliability for $1000 or so, I’d be more inclined. A car with no engine or trans is not worth much though.

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The amount necessary to earn a living can be subjective.

Recently a poster stated that shop #2 gave an estimate that was several hundred dollars less than shop # 1 so the first shop was tiring to rip her off. We are not issued a price list from the government, most shops write estimates based on what they feel is fair for the job.

There are different levels of service, dealers have direct contact with rental car companies, they can have a vehicle waiting for you. They receive a freight delivery every day, very little delay in getting the parts.

I would not be interested in repairing a CVT with 120,000 miles, those Nissan transmissions have a limited life span, your Nissan dealer is replacing them every day.

Remanufactured is typically all that is available from the manufacture, they have large remanufacturing facilities, there are thousands of warranty units returned each year that can be rebuilt. The only time I saw a “new” transmission was a 6-speed manual.

Do you have the hatchback or the sedan. The sedan came with a 4 speed automatic transmission while the hatchback came with the CVT.

If you have the sedan, then you absolutely must get another opinion because the 4 speed was very reliable.

But even if you do have the CVT, did you notice a problem or did Firestone tell you that you have a problem? If you didn’t notice the problem, then you may not have one. Again, get a second opinion and let them know ahead of time that you are on a fixed income and cannot afford unneeded repairs. They may be less likely to try to fatten their wallets at your expense. Most mechanic are not sociopaths.

A second opinion is always a good business practice for any transaction, be it auto repair, home repair or any other transaction. Also getting multiple quotes from different sources is good as well but always beware of a quote that is too low or requires a down payment. Look for a lot of partially completed vehicles and do check online for reviews of the business.

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Thanks for the advice! I found out that mine is indeed NOT a CVT like I had been led to believe (several mechanics didn’t even bother checking after hearing I had a Versa and assumed it was). Finally just took it to the dealer. It was giving the P1760 code and they’re telling me close to $3k to replace the ‘valve body.’
Still considering whether or not to just sell the thing. This whole issue has been a weeks long headache with no resolution x_x

I agonized over trying to figure out what to buy for two years. Then a week of stalling and I was in a new car in four days. So ask yourself what would you do if it all of a sudden it became undrivable?

You don’t need a new valve body for this code. If it is the only code, then you just need the solenoid, and maybe not even that.

Watch this video, it is about a half hour long. Ask yourself, was the vehicle acting very sluggish before you went into the Firestone place? Was the Service Engine Soon (Check Engine Light) light on before your went in? If not, then they disconnected the solenoid and all you need is to have the solenoid reconnected.

Anyway, invest the 32 minutes and watch this.

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I concur w/the advice above, it makes $$$-sense to just do the necessary repair, provided it isn’t the CVT version. If I had that problem I’d choose between either the dealership or a well-recommended independent transmission shop. For the latter, ask around at your favorite car repair shops in your area; there’s usually one inde shop that all the mechanics will say they use for their own cars w/transmission problems. Note that just b/c one shop says you need a new transmission doesn’t imply you actually do need a new one. The problem may turn you to be relatively simple to repair, as mentioned above. Going forward suggest to schedule routine transmission services on a regular basis, every 50K miles or so. A routine service generally includes draining the old fluid out and refilling the fluid w/fresh stuff, and cleaning/or replacing the filter. Fresh fluid is both cleaner than the old stuff, and it has new seal conditioning chemicals which will prevent the seals from getting stiff and then leaking & failing to maintain the large hydraulic pressures the transmission needs to effect the gear shifts. If you really want to go whole hog to minimize having transmission problems, for you next car select a manual transmission version. Those are usually pretty bullet proof.

One more thing, check your radiator coolant for a pinkish milkshake look. If you see that, then your transmission cooling coil in the bottom of the radiator is leaking. This does a lot of damage to the transmission and the P1760 code will only be the start of your problems. Nissan had a bad run of radiators from one of their suppliers that affected several years of production.

I also fund out that the solenoids are available aftermarket but not from Nissan and that is why the dealer wants to replace the whole valve body. but 3k sounds high for a valve body.

I’m not watching the videos or the comments after but I will just say that I had the solenoids replaced in my Olds due to limp mode. I think it cost about $250 which included the fluid change plus the tow. Not the end of the world at all.