Sell a dying car?
April 5, 2011 3:01 PM   Subscribe

I have a 2001 Honda Accord with a potential transmission problem. I owe about $4000 on it, it's worth about $3500-4000K and the transmission will likely be $3000. Do I keep it or sell it?

The car has about 120K miles on it. I bought it used so don't know about prior transmission issues. The mechanic that I trust says the transmission may be going (burnt transmission fluid, car jerks on acceleration). I really like the car and generally only drive it on the weekends but that can include pretty regular 200 mile trips.

Oh, and I also need to replace all four tires ASAP.

So do I:

1) Sell the car now and eat the loss?

2) Replace the tires and wait to see about the transmission?

3) If the transmission is gone in a few months do I sell the car or replace the transmission?
posted by gyroscope to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Replace the tyres, look for a second hand transmission from a scrap yard or from another car that is for sale with a good transmission in it as a donor (ie one with a rear end crash).

Don't get a 10 year old transmission fixed - just throw another one in. It'll be probably half the cost at the most. USed transmissions are in the $750 ballpark up to $1000 including shipping. It won't cost more than $500 to get it fitted, I suspect.
posted by Brockles at 3:19 PM on April 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oh, and you can find transmissions online that can get shipped to you. Do your patient shopping online and learn the prices while you wait for your existing one to crap out, and then jump on a good deal when you see one.

If you line up a shop, too, you can get it shipped straight there when you pull the trigger on the job.
posted by Brockles at 3:20 PM on April 5, 2011

At minimum you can buy some used tires while you wait to see if you'll sell the car or not.
posted by mikoroshi at 3:50 PM on April 5, 2011

Yeah, we had a rebuilt transmission put in a '01 Accord for about $1k a few years ago. But if it still runs now I'd just sell the thing private party and move on.
posted by MrZero at 5:15 PM on April 5, 2011

Yup, I've had good luck with a used transmission, your mechanic should be able to find you one if he's any good, I've had some luck on the internet too. Shipping is usually not too bad, talk to your mechanic.
Don't fix the transmission. It's just not worth it. Don't use AAMCO, they cost me a fortune, lied to me, and sold me junk as new. I would have taken them to court if I hadn't moved.

Get the tires replaced, a broken transmission probably won't kill you, bad tires will.
posted by defcom1 at 5:23 PM on April 5, 2011

I have gone the 'replacing with junkyard transmission' route with a couple of cars and had good outcomes. So that gets my vote. But I would never buy used tires. Instead I recommend Tire Rack. Outstanding selection of tires, great prices, and even figuring the shipping to a installer close to you, and the installers charges and fees, buying from Tire Rack typically comes in at two-thirds the cost of local tire store.
posted by mojohand at 5:41 PM on April 5, 2011

Get the tires replaced, a broken transmission probably won't kill you, bad tires will.

It won't kill you, but it could strand you in a really unfortunate spot. I had one go on me 75 miles from home in the exact center of nowhere. I spent ten minutes looking around trying to figure out what the problem was (I had only been driving a little while), got back in the car, started it and put it into drive, and it worked! I made it to 1.5 miles from my house, when it died again at an offramp. I coasted through the stop sign, and then thought to try reverse, which worked. I drove it the rest of the way home in reverse, then took it another 2 miles to the mechanic the next day the same way.
posted by nevercalm at 5:59 PM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

One thing to keep in mind is that the 2001 Accord had (has?) a really lousy transmission. So bad that Honda extended the warranty on the transmission to 100,000 miles.

I only say this because I'm not sure how good a used transmission would be, or if they can even be rebuilt.

I'm in a similar situation as you, but I have more miles on mine (2001 Accord EX, 165K miles). I'm trying to decide if I should fix/replace the transmission, as well as the catalytic converter.

All in on those two would certainly be cheaper than a new car, but them I'm fixing a 10 year old car.
posted by dforemsky at 6:32 PM on April 5, 2011

Had the same issue with my '89 Accord two or three years ago. My mechanic found a used transmission, cost me less than $1k, and I'm still driving the car today.
posted by ecourbanist at 10:31 PM on April 5, 2011

I don't have any answers for your transmission question, but for tires, I'd check Costco (even if you are not a member yet). They currently have a $70 off Bridgestone 4-tire purchase, so that will cover the $50 membership fee if you decide to get it there. Their quoted price includes installation, balancing, rotation, 5-yr road hazard warranty etc. See here.
posted by thewildgreen at 9:04 AM on April 6, 2011

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