When to Fold and get a new(used) car?

I have a 1992 Toyota Corolla wagon. It has 115K miles on it. I bought it for 4500 and have probably put 3 grand in it over the past 5 years (breaks, exhaust, front axle, etc.). Now, the transmission is kaput. It’s $1750 for a rebuilt transmission (plus I need to retrofit the AC to get it to work properly, I was told that’s about $300). So, I’m probably looking at $2200 of repair work.

Should I do it or should I bite the bullet and dump it? I love wagons and there aren’t a lot of options out there. We wouldn’t want to spend more than 12-13K on a new used car. We’re seeing some Toyota Matrix’s, Subaru’s etc. in that range, but many already have 50k miles on them. Any advice/thoughts people may have would be welcome.

Assuming the engine and body are good, your Corolla could potentially last another 100K miles or more. A transmission costs a lot less than a new or used car. The money you have spent over the last few years is normal for just about any car, and should not influence your decision at this time.

I agree w/ MC

The transmission expense that you are encountering is not normal for any car. Your Toyota should have done better than this. Normally people here sing high praises of Toyotas and I am surprised and amused that they did not jump on this.

If the car is not rusted, however, it might be wise to get the transmission replaced rather than buy another used car with unknown potential problems. Can you do better with a guaranteed scrapyard transmission rather than a rebuilt?

I disagree on the transmission. The tranny is 15 years old despite the low mileage. Anything can and eventually fails at that point…

Why is the tranny in need of rebuilt? These trannies have weak differentials that can be fixed for $400-500. Get a 2nd opinion on that. On the AC are you still with the old refrigerant-that was costing me too much. Also does the car have an airbag. If not that might be a deal braker to get rid of it.

Thanks for all the replies! The transmission basically disintegrated on I95 last Saturday night. We had to have the car towed 70 miles to the DC area. I’m 99% certain it’s gone (I have faith in the mechanic who checked it out). As to the AC, it is the older type and would require a $180 retrofit first, but if that didn’t fix it, I’d be off on a long expensive trip to get it working. There is rust on the car (bottom of the doors). There are no air bags in this buggy. It also needs new front springs ($400). I’m pretty much decided to give it a funeral and move on.

I had an '89 corolla, pretty much the same car. It needed many things to be repaired, none of which were unusual stuff except the differential that was singing. The main reason I gave it away was the lack of airbags. I don’t drive fancy cars and don’t believe in a lot of fancy stuff, but in this day and age putting my wife and kids in a compact car with no airbags…I didn’t want to have any guilt feeling down the road.