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New Transmission or New Car?
Old 05-05-2011, 12:44 PM   #1
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New Transmission or New Car?

I got this old car (1996, Neon, about 115K miles) with a bad transmission. Already had it rebuilt once and now seems like the trans is gonna go kaput again.

So, when (not if), the transmission goes out again, is that something worth fixing? If I get a new one installed, should it run like new?

Or is a bad transmission one of those "deal breaker" things as in, time to get a new car?
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Old 05-05-2011, 12:50 PM   #2
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Not to be insulting, considering its a 96 Neon with 115K, I'd vote for new car.
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Old 05-05-2011, 12:57 PM   #3
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I would too, though I am no car expert. Still, compare the trade-in value of the Neon with the cost of the transmission - - I would imagine that the difference probably isn't great. Also I would imagine that other repairs will soon follow if you keep the Neon.
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Old 05-05-2011, 01:10 PM   #4
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The biggest question is, how much is a new transmission? I'm presuming it's an automatic? The Neon used a simple 3-speed automatic right up through 2001 or so. It dates back to the 1978 Omni and Horizon, and I'd imagine it would be pretty cheap to rebuild.

If I liked the car, and it was in otherwise decent shape, and the transmission repair could be done for under $800 or so, I'd probably do it. How is the engine on the car, though? Those early Neons were infamous for blowing head gaskets. The problem was corrected, for the most part, in later years, but a 1996 might still be iffy.
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Old 05-05-2011, 01:17 PM   #5
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Not to be insulting, considering its a 96 Neon with 115K, I'd vote for new car.
No insult at all. A 96 Neon with 115K isn't easy to find. Believe it or not, I've rarely had problems starting the thing.

I actually exceeded both my goals when I bought it. One was to make it last over 10 years, the other was over 100K miles. Was about to get a brand new car in 2008, but then something called retiring early got in the way

If I get another car, I'll probably get ond used, about 20K miles on it.
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Old 05-05-2011, 01:20 PM   #6
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There is never just one cockroach . . . get a new car.
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Old 05-05-2011, 01:32 PM   #7
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My wife and I drive a 2002 Neon with 76377 miles. Stick shift. We bought it used for $6,000. Its transmission failed once several years ago, and we had it repaired. I can't recall the repair cost. Then a month ago, the transmission failed again. It cost $575 to fix. Seems to be working fine now -- feels nice and tight driving it. A few hundred dollars every few years to avoid the thousands another car would cost seems like a good deal, to me.
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Old 05-05-2011, 01:57 PM   #8
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I would vote new...
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Old 05-05-2011, 02:07 PM   #9
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New car.

If it was a '96 Toyota or Honda with only 115k, I'd be inclined to consider a new transmission. This would be the 3rd transmission in one car in 115k miles. That's more than enough for me. I've owned a lot of vehicles over my 53 years and have only had one transmission rebuild. And that one was in a.....TOYOTA! Actually, it was an '85 Chevy Nova that was in reality a Toyota Corolla with a Chevy badge on it. One of those joint-venture deals between the two companies. Nearly every part on the car, including under the hood, was interchangeable with Toyota parts. The 5 speed manual transmission in that car did die, at a little over 200k miles. Cost me $1100 to fix it, I drove it another 50k & then traded it in. It was a good car otherwise.
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Old 05-05-2011, 02:09 PM   #10
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Not to be insulting, considering its a 96 Neon with 115K, I'd vote for new car.
Yep - about 20,000 miles ago...
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Old 05-05-2011, 02:15 PM   #11
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96 Dodge Neon is worth between $1000 - $1500 is my guess.

I vote for a new used car.
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Old 05-05-2011, 02:37 PM   #12
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I would vote for the new car also or at least a newer used one.
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Old 05-05-2011, 03:37 PM   #13
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There is never just one cockroach . . . get a new car.
This is one of those quotes that will go down in the annals of history.

New Car for reasons too numerous to mention.
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Old 05-06-2011, 09:34 AM   #14
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At that age and mileage I'd probably go for a new car unless it's a stick shift, the replacement/rebuilt transmission was under $500 and the car was otherwise in excellent shape. Then it'd be a tougher call.

Ultimately, "How lucky do you feel?"
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Old 05-06-2011, 09:44 AM   #15
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Newer used car like a Nissan. maybe an Altima. Motor and trans made in Tennessee and body assembled in TN. Change the tran fluid every 30k approx., it is easy to do yourself in 30min., and it will go 300K miles easy. Have many friends and family as well as neighbors who also have driven them that far without a transmission repair.
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Old 05-06-2011, 10:09 AM   #16
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A new car will be less problems but will cost more. It seems that cars are almost always cheaper to repair than to replace. I suspect that you can get your transmission rebuilt for maybe $1500 at an independent transmission shop. Stay away from places like AAMCO unless you want to pay (double) for all that advertising and franchise expenses.

But oh, that new car smell !

The other issues that seems to occur with Neons is that the head gasket goes which requires a big repair.

By the way, this isn't a great time to be buying a car. The Japanese Tsunami caused much loss of parts and hence loss of car production. It seems to be affecting both Japanese and (to a lessor extent) Domestic manufacturers. Supply of new cars will be limited hence prices are rising.
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Old 05-06-2011, 11:48 AM   #17
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But oh, that new car smell !
I see that Amazon has New Car Scent at $17.50/32oz.
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Old 05-06-2011, 12:08 PM   #18
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96 Dodge Neon is worth between $1000 - $1500 is my guess.

I vote for a new used car.
More like $300 or so. Used Neons have NO resale...........
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Old 05-06-2011, 12:09 PM   #19
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My SO had a Toyota Camry with many miles on it. At around 150k miles, the automatic transmission went and he spent upwards of $2k to a dealer to put in a new one along with fixing some associated problems. In hindsight, we both say that was the time he should have bought a new car. Although he continued to drive it for several more years, that was the point at which frequent, expensive repairs started.
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Old 05-06-2011, 12:23 PM   #20
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My kid just went through a transmission issue with an 03 Mitsu Gallant automatic that has 3 areas of body damage that also reduces the value. We were trying to decide the same "fix or dump" question. Took it to a transmission place to see what the cost of a rebuilt one would be, and he said he thought it was a bad sensor causing the very rough shifting. I hadn't heard of this, but the guy had a good rep. Upon closer inspection, he found some chewed up wires next to a pile of acorns. Seems a squirrel got in there at some point. He said those wires could cause the bad sensor reading (I only came in on the end of this) and he fixed the wires, and now the car runs great again! $115 instead of whatever a rebuilt one was going to cost. A new tranny was never considered.

Unless you have some easy fix like this, I'd vote new car. Be glad you got a lot of trouble-free miles in that Neon. I think you'd be pushing your luck to get a lot more miles on it, and a more recent model is probably going to have a lot more safety features.
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