To Repair or Not to Repair

Hi all,

I have a 1998 Nissan Pathfinder with 160K miles. We paid about 6500 for the vehicle 5 years ago (car had 125K miles - we don’t put many miles on our cars), and we have replaced intake manifold, struts, tires and otherwise had few problems.

This weekend the transmission died. It had been slipping for some time (slow to transfer power to the wheels). Then this weekend there was a fairly loud whirring type sound matched to the RPMs… then no more power to the wheels. Got it towed to a transmission shop where they tell me a) it will cost $600 to diagnose the problem and b) estimated repair cost range $1800 - $3000. It is a 4WD - not sure if that matters (I am not mechanically inclined).

My question is whether it makes sense to repair the car, or donate it to charity at this point… We can afford the repair, but likely would not be able to pay cash for a replacement car (assuming min 10K for decent car)? We need a large-ish car as we have 3 kids. I had hoped to minimize my auto costs by driving this thing to the ground and I wonder if we reached that point? I have not really kept up with regular maintaince other than oil changes.

Any help on thinking through this would be greatly appreciated.

I’d say a vehicle that age and fairly expensive to repair should be scrapped, donated or otherwise disposed of when a major repair occurs.

If you had taken the car into a good transmission shop the minute it started slipping, you may have been able to repair it inexpensively. I think the estimates you received are low inview of the fact the car was “driven till it stopped”.

When you buy your next car, have a qulified machanic check it over first, and then MAINTAIN it BY THE BOOK, so you can avoid these problems in the future.

We have a 1994 Nissan automatic and it has had 4 fluid and filter changes over its life so far (125,000 miles). The transmission shifts as well as the day we bought it.

A late model Crown Victoria would be a good choice for your next car. I would avoid 4 WD or AWD.

Thanks for the feedback and recommendations.

Out of curiousity would you ever consider buying one of the Crown Vics as a surplus car from the State Highway Patrol?

The are heavy duty everything, and will wear well. They are generally well maintained as well. They also sell for very little.

I would not buy a city police car; they spend all their time idling, and the drivers are less competent than highway patrol officers.

I hope the shop you had it towed to wasn’t scAAMCO. Click and Clack always say “the cheapest car to own is the one you already have”. It would be cheaper to fix Pathfinder, but it’s no longer new and has a lot of miles on it. $600 to diagnose it is ridiculous. They ALREADY know what’s wrong with it. It needs rebuilt. Would their $600 diagnostic fee be applied to their repair cost? Find another transmission shop for a second opinion. See right here on this website for a reputable shop near you.

Another possibility is to find a low mileage used transmission near you at , and pay someone else to install it.