Should I replace the transmission on my 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid?

I just got the news today that my 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid with 175,000 miles on it needs a new transmission. I bought it new around 70k miles, had the batteries replaced under warranty around 100k miles and I’m not much of a car guy so I’m looking to the internet for advice on whether or not I should make the approx $4,200 investment to replace the transmission on it, or should I start looking for a new car. Everything else on it seems to work fine at the moment, but will this be the beginning of me just dumping money into a black hole?! Thanks!

“I bought it new around 70k miles”

Don’t you mean that you bought it…used…at around 70k miles?

Be that as it may…before I sank $4,200 into a 10 year old car, I would want to know about the condition of the engine–and, in this case, the batteries. I would assume that, if the batteries were replaced at 100k miles, they would still have some life in them, but…on the other hand, Honda’s record with battery life with their hybrids is…not good.

I think you need to get some expert opinion regarding remaining battery life and the condition of the engine before making this decision.

Kelly Blue Book shows the value of a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid with 175000 miles, in “very good” condition, is worth $2000 for trade in, and $2600 if you sell it yourself.

Those prices assume a working transmission. If you sink $4200 into the car, the above prices for what your car is worth do not change.

you paid much more than the current 2000 value. but you used it for years. its ironic you will even have a hard time selling car as is for 1000 or perhaps more if new owner has to spend 4000 to fix it. i think you would have trouble even giving car away since it needs a 4k repair. of course it has a bunch of parts that another person might find valuable.

That’s a good way of looking at it. The OP has to invest $4K in the car for it to be worth $2K.
The only value there would be if the OP intended on driving it long enough to recoup the investment in the trans fix.

Tow it to a recycling center (junk yard) and they’ll give you a few $$ for its parts value.

There are always other options and considerations.

Can your mechanic find a used transmission from a scrap yard? That can cut the cost. Will a local transmission shop fix/overhaul it? Those options could drop the price to a more reasonable level. Having a good relationship with a good third party mechanic can really save you money in the long run.

Of course, there are people who LOVE their cars and people for whom they are just a set of wheels. If you are really into the car, it may be worth fixing.

Still, there are other aspects to consider. What will you do if you decide not to fix the Civic? And what will that cost you? If you are looking at buying a new car you’re looking at 4 or 5 years of car payments, or dipping into savings (which has long term costs). It might be more cost effective top fix this car than assume a long term liability or using savings.

Can you find a car you like for around $4,200? If so, you’re no worse off than if you fix the Civic. However, every used car purchase is a crap shoot. You roll the dice and find out that the CV joints need to be replaced. Or that sometimes when you use the left turn indicator, the engine stalls (an old Subaru story). When my son went out for a used car, I warned him to budget another thousand over the purchase price for the problems that would arise. They arose. You know what’s right and wrong with this car, so you have a good idea if you want to keep it, at any price.

You might look a little deeper at the costs and risks of the alternatives to fixing this one.


First of all . . .

Were you complaining about the transmission BEFORE you brought it to the shop?

Were there any symptoms . . . that you know of . . . that the transmission was failing?

Have you been getting the transmission service on time?

Using the correct fluid?

My point is this . . . are you absolutely sure the transmission is failing?

Assuming the diagnosis is correct and you need a new transmission, you are not going to recoup the money you put in it to fix it-esp with the resale values listed here. BUT, that is not how I do the math on repairs./
1- Is the car safe enough, good enough for you if they fix it. If not, then Move on, if yes then
2- I calculate the number of payments needed to equal the repair expense and then see if I think the car would last that long (or more) if I fixed it.
In this case, for example, if you got a used transmission with a 1 yr warranty for $3000, then assuming lease payments on your car is around $300, you should keep the car 10-12 months to be worth the repair. Anything after that is a bonus.