Transmission woes


#1

I have a '96 Toyota Camry with 109k miles on it. The transmission just died and needs to be replaced. The options are:



1) buy a used transmission and have it installed for $1000



2) have the transmission rebuilt with a 12 mo/12k mile warranty from a respected local mechanic - all internal parts and seals and new converter for $2300 - trouble is that my son will have the car in another state and thus the local warranty would be useless.



3) buy a rebuilt factory transmission for $3100 with a 12 mo warranty that would be honored by a dealer.



Any help or advice in making this decision?




#2

Option a has the most risk however is the least expensive and this is a 12 year vehicle. I would see how far $1000 gets you.


#3

I’m guessing that it’s uncommon for a Toyota to drop a tranny at only 109K miles. I’d chance the used one if it were me.
Here’s why:

  1. Transmission rebuilding is for specialists. Maybe your mechanic is the best of the best, but even specialist rebuilds are suspect to me.

  2. Factory rebuild may be better but that’s a lot of money and still only a 12 month warranty? Why? because rebuilds are suspect and even the factory knows it.

  3. Because Toyotas usually are good, reliable cars, I would chance finding a lower mileage “proven” factory built tranny at a salvage yard. Possibly from a car with body damage only.

Just my opinions.


#4

I’m guessing that it’s uncommon for a Toyota to drop a tranny at only 109K miles. I’d chance the used one if it were me.
Here’s why:

  1. Transmission rebuilding is for specialists. Maybe your mechanic is the best of the best, but even specialist rebuilds are suspect to me.

  2. Factory rebuild may be better but that’s a lot of money and still only a 12 month warranty? Why? because rebuilds are suspect and even the factory knows it.

  3. Because Toyotas usually are good, reliable cars, I would chance finding a lower mileage “proven” factory built tranny at a salvage yard. Possibly from a car with body damage only.

Just my opinions.


#5

If you go with a used, original factory trans., check this out first. Take your mechanic with you and check the tranny fluid for discoloration, burnt smell, moisture, etc. Also check for gasket/seal leaks. If that checks out ok, (the fluid should be a fairly clear red color. If it looks brown, like molasses, then be suspect), then your experienced mechanic and you can make the determination to have that tranny pulled for you. Insist on a new filter and new,“virgin” fluid of the proper type. It should work fine for many, many miles. An experienced mechanic should be able to determine if the replacement tranny is worth the effort. What would be optimum is if the vehicle can be started. Get the ‘recycler’ to get all 4 wheels off the ground. Throw in a known good battery. Throw in about two gallons of fresh fuel. Start 'er up. With all 4 wheels off the ground, put the tranny through its paces. If it’s good, it’s now KNOWN good. Buy it. Don’t forget your battery. Just leave the rest of the gas. Just to double check the condition of the fluid, ask your mechanic to loosen the tranny pan bolts enough to drip a cup or so of the fluid into a container. Old hub cap works good for this. You can do a closer inspection of the color and smell of the fluid this way. Just re-tighten the trans. pan bolts before removing the tranny to keep dirt out of the tranny. Some ‘yards’ simply flip vehicles on their sides to remove trannies. That’s o.k. The outside case can then be blasted clean at a car wash or by your mechanic if he has a Hotsy Totsy or similar equipment. You’ll be changing out the fluid and replacing the filter and pan gasket anyway, so there should be no water damage if the existing seals and gaskets are good. And $1K ain’t a bad deal! He may charge a little more for doing the ‘yard’ inspection, but his time is worth something. If he’s good, be nice to him. It’ll pay off in spades in the future.