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To transmission, or not to transmission

1998 Outback AWD four cylinder (130K miles) recently diagnosed as needing to have transmission replaced. The car would hesitate and feel like it was slightly bucking when turning either direction from stop or moving very slowly. This would continue until it straightened out and picked up speed (~15+mph). Originally the mechanic thought it just needed a new/used rear differential, etc., until he worked his way to figuring out that it needed a new/used transmission. We recently spent about $4K to replace timing belt, head gasket and to get other minor services done just prior to moving from AZ to GA. We had expected to keep this car for at least five more years as a first car for our son when he turns sixteen in three years. The body and interior is in very good shape, with the usual dings and scrapes. Beyond the usual tune ups, we’ve never had any trouble with it other than minor work performed due to taking it into Canyon de Chelly, AZ during the summer dry season (dust and sand) about six years ago. The expected cost of the replacement transmission is around $2K. This is a new mechanic to us, although he’s been used by other family members in the past, without any trouble. Two questions:

1. Is it worth the cost of replacing the transmission, if it indeed is the transmission?

2. If it isn’t worth the cost, how dangerous is it to continue driving the car, or should we bite the bullet and purchase a new car?

Anyone’s help is much appreciated!

In accounting a transmission overhaul or replacement, etc. is an “extraordinary repair” and increases the life of machinery, so it isn’t treated like an expense.

I have a 99 car with around 137k; I take good care of it and even if the transmission bit the dust, I would not hesitate to repair it and move on with life.

If it were mine I would replace the transmission and be sure to change (not flush) the fluid every 20-30k.

So 1. Yes 2. N/A

Oh yea be sure you know exactly what that $2k is getting you… Used? rebuilt? Certified OEM rebuilt? etc. You get what you pay for.

An automobiles only function is to provide you with transportation, not keep you on the verge of bankruptcy…If you type the word “Subaru” in the search window of this board, you will discover that Subaru’s are money pits that have bankrupted many owners…

So I would move on to a more reliable vehicle that can be repaired and maintained at moderate cost and provides you with reliable transportation without the threat of bankruptcy looming every day…

I don’t understand why the transmission would cause the problem you mentioned. Perhaps the transfer case or a differential might. However, that could be expensive also.

This does NOT sound like a transmission problem. Find a very competent mechanic in your area on the car talk site and get a 2nd opinion… By the way, my 1990 legacy just turned over 250k miles, runs well, and does not burn any oil.