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Is It Worth The Repair??

Q. We own a 1996 Plymouth voyager, 178,974 kilometers (111,209 miles). My wife and I were trying to decide whether to buy a new vehicle or sink money into a transmission repair job. The auto shop (Chrysler dealership) technician has told me that he recommends the vehicle have a new torque converter installed and a transmission overhaul, total estimate is $1,500.00 Canadian ($962.30 US).

The problem this is trying to fix is as follows: when initially driving off in forward we get an extremely high pitched whine and the van does not seem to want to accelerate in proportion to the revving of the engine and, occasionally, we have been driving at highway speeds between 100-120 km/hour and the engine seems to lose power but not stall. Power steering is not affected nor is electrical extras such as the radio.

We understand black book value on the van would be around $2,000.00 and putting in another $1,500.00 to $1,800.00 (gotta add those blessed taxes) would mean we would need to get several more years out of the van to have it pay off. the questions for you are:

1. Do you believe the technician and think this would solve the problems?
2. Do you believe this would be a worthwhile investment and extend the life of the van long enough to recover our investment in the repair?

Other additional info: for the repairs we have checked the on board computer and it gave no diagnostic error codes and no warning lights appear. We have followed regular maintenance and preventative maintenance on the vehicle.

Thank you,
Mark and Paulette

A. I have to tell you a little story concerning a transmission repair. One shop I had on Long Island had a transmission repair shop right next door. One afternoon we heard a big commotion outside. We all ran out and there was a car in the middle of the street consumed in flames.

Fortunately the driver escaped without injury.

What happened was he just had his transmission rebuilt. He paid the bill and just as he pulled out of the parking lot, a fuel line broke and somehow the fuel ignited. So his investment in a new transmission, literally, went up in smoke.

The moral of this story is no one can predict the future. We can make an educated guess based on facts in the present. But after the next second no one knows.

A lot depends on how much you like the van. 111,000 miles is not an awful lot. With proper care and maintenance you should be able to get another 50,000 miles out of it. If you read my article: How Much Is Enough? you'll get an idea of how to make an informed decision.

As far as the diagnosis your mechanic made, it sounds reasonable and very possible to me.

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