When to say good-bye?

We have a 2000 Camry with about 110k miles on it that we bought used about a year and a half ago. When we bought it we talked to the garage that had serviced it, but failed to have it inspected, and we’ve paid for that–big time! Like thousands of bucks.

We now owe about $3k on it and our garage has just told us they need to replace a solenoid in the transmission, which will cost about $1100 for the used part and another $1100 for the eight hours of labor to replace it. (They say we don’t have second gear and it’s using gas like crazy.)

Whatever we do we lose money–keep it and do the latest repair, which means we will have paid many thousands more than the car is worth; try to sell it without the repair for maybe $500; or do the repair and try to sell it for $3-4000, which means we buy another car while continuing to pay on this one (or roll the balance into a new loan).

Part of what makes me hesitate is that we’ve done so much to the car we might still be able to count on several years of driving once we do this job, but I’m concerned that we might be overvaluing our sunk costs.

What would you all recommend?

Search Rockauto. Control solenoid 6 bucks. Kickdown solenoid 20 bucks. What does your solenoid do?

Get another quote.

I would investigate another repair path…$1100 for a used transmission part???Or is that for a complete used transmission, which is what I would be looking at…

10 years old / 110k = Half way through it’s life, depends on maintenance habits.

  1. Get a 2nd opinion on the trans repair
  2. Either way, I would just fix the car and move on with life. You will have it paid off in what, 6 months?

Okay, I have more information now that I’ve talked to the mechanic myself.

On test drive the car was shifting from first directly to third, and they had a diagnostic code for a shift solenoid, which said the solenoid was malfunctioning. To check it they connected power to each of the three solenoids and they all operated. They then put a monitor to each of them and the electrical values went up when they told them to shift. This leads them to believe that the electrical portion of the transmission is working.

Without opening up the transmission what they think is that we have a failed shift drum.

The price they have quoted us is for a used transmission with 66k on it that has been in an accident. The seller is giving them a 90-day warranty on it.

This makes more sense to me, which gets me back to my original question: keep or trash?

Thanks for all your great responses so far.


8 hours of labor x $90 per hour sounds like $720 to me.

Get it repaired but I’d shop for a second quote for a rebuilt or scrapyard trans if that is needed. Verify that too. Shop the internet for used transmissions.

If you sell this car for $500 and buy another in the same price and mileage category, you could be unlucky and the whole process could be repeated with another car.

It would be overly painful to make payments on a car that you have disposed of at a loss plus payments for a replacement car.

Replace the trans and drive the car another 110,000 miles, and keep the fluid changed in the replacement. It might be worth your $ to track down an OEM-Rebuilt and pay the premium, but that’s just what I would do with my car.