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Toyota 1994 Camry Wagon, 215k miles, should I repair the transmission or walk?

Car has been working fine but yesterday the transmission just wouldn’t engage. The engine was running fine. The shop (which I trust) said the transmission needed to be replaced and quoted $1650 for a new one. I’ve just been using it as my around town car so probably put about 5K miles on it a year at this point. It has small dent in the bumper and the interior is fine but old.

I’m tempted to replace the transmission because it is an easy (albeit expensive) solution, and less work (and money) than looking for another used car with an unknown history.

But does it make any sense? I’ve replaced the exhaust, tires and battery recently. When might the engine start giving me trouble?


Is this quote for a rebuilt or a used transmission? (It’s definitely not for a new one.)

I have mixed feelings. On one hand, this car is quite old and you’ve gotten your money’s worth out of it. On the other hand, if it’s otherwise in decent shape and you’re just running around town where a breakdown is presumably less of a hassle, then this isn’t a bad price to squeeze out another year or so from this car.

If the car is otherwise decent and your choices are to fix this or walk, fixing this is the way to go. If you live in the city where public transportation is readily available, that is another option to consider.

Let me ask you this, if you had a newer/lower mile car would you use it more?? In other words is this cars age keeping you from traveling more then you do?? If so I say get a new car… If not then for $1600 fix this one, because $1600 is not going to get you anything any better… Like you said knowing the cars history is worth a lot !!

“I’ve just been using it as my around town car”

You have a different car for trips? I might just go with one car, if that’s the case.

I’d suggest fixing it, so long as the body is in good shape.

These were good, solid vehicles, even if the wagon is ugly (IMO)… but the key is that there is a demand out there for midsize wagons - just watch how often around here people recommend old Taurus wagons for example… I know I and several of my friends want midsize or compact wagons for our next vehicle, and nobody makes the things anymore.

I’d wager that you could fix it for $1650 and turn around and sell it for near $2500-$3000, even if you didn’t want to keep it… I know KBB is lower, but just seeing how fast and how much these vehicles have moved for around here, I’d wager you could get more.

Thanks for the feedback so far, I’m probably leaning more towards fixing it.

@lion9car - I’ll double check, I thought they said new
@TSM - normally I bike when the weather is good and I’m going less than 2-3 miles
@gsragtop - good point about not getting something better, I’m still pondering whether I should bite the bullet and sink more cash to get a longer lasting car,
@texases - we have two cars, my wife has the better one which we use for longer trips
@eraser1998 - I know it ain’t a looker! :wink: But solid is solid

Anyone have any insight on what other parts start needing replacement at this mileage? I’ll have a sitdown with my mechanic as well and see what he thinks.

When was the last time you had suspension work done? If it’s in the shop, you might sk for a compression test to see if the engine is OK. Your mechanic or one of the season mechanics on the board can tell you what is acceptable. As long as the engine is in good shape and the suspension is fine, you should consider replacing the transmission. If you need a second car, ask yourself what you can afford and whether a car at that price is as good as the car you know. If it’s the $1650 repair, odds are you can’t find anything as good as what you have.

I would have your mechanic give it a thorough inspection first,Ike a pre-purchase, including the compression test noted above. You’ll have a much better picture then.

I’d repair it and keep it. Camry wagons are getting rare and they hold up well. As per what might go next? Alternators are common failure items along with electric fuel pumps. I wouldn’t replace things on your 2nd car however. Just keep repairing things as they break. If the motor runs well, has good compression, and isn’t burning oil it could last for many more years and miles.

I agree with Uncle. There are plenty of that vintage Camry rolling around here. The problem that actually puts them down up here is rust.