Attn OG mechanics

Sorry for the FRAT. I have a 1996 Mazda Protege 1.5L automatic which I bought 1 1/2 yrs ago for $1,200. I had transmission issues on my way home from work and brought it to get looked at the next day. Car was not going into gear and would only drive in first. Dropped it off at Aamco which is a transmission specialist in my area. 7hrs later I get a call back with a diagnosis of "internal transmission issues". They said it would require a rebuild and have a rough quote of $1,600-$2,200. I have a hard time taking that diagnosis and quote seriously because they were not able to tell me anything other than what I told them when I had dropped it off. Rebuild is out of the question because that is more that I had put into the car when I bought it plus I have spent $300 fixing things here and there the past couple months. My 2 options are A) sell it to a scrap yard for $250 and save up for a few weeks to buy a cheap used car B) Purchase a used transmission and that shop can put it in for $500.

What should I look for when looking into used transmissions? On some sites they have grades, how reliable are those? Is there a certain standard they have to go by when giving grades?

My only options are to either go the used transmission route or junk it and buy something for less that $1,500 and hope I can get 1- 2 yrs out of it.


Took my wife's Saturn there and it cost over 3k for an engone rebuild. It was the only place that financed and we were in a tough spot so we had no choice. At least they guarantee their work, I know because we have had to take it back 3 times to keep having it worked on since they cant do it right the 1st time.

Ask them to look the car over carefully . Offer to pay for their time. You need to get an idea as to what else could be wrong or go wrong in the near future . If it is going to need brakes ,tires,exhaust or anything similar that could run into several hundred ore then you need to know before you decide.

Even if they check it out you may run into other issues. Has the timing belt ever been done? If not then it is overdue and that's a few bucks right there . Phone Post 3.0

Get a used tranny from a nationwide salvage yard like LKQ. They are usually warrantied and relatively cheap. If they're going to do the labor for 500 you should be able to get it back on the road for under 1000 bucks. Phone Post 3.0

Most Aamcos are independently run but I also say screw them.
Took them 4 tries to get the Ac repair right on my car. Only on the 4th try did they go with a different brand compressor Phone Post 3.0

I'd junk it.

Even getting a used transmission, you are getting a used transmission that is nearly 20 years old. You probably won't get more than a 6-month warranty, and that transmission will probably crater 2 weeks after that warranty expires.

You drove a car for 18 months and only paid $1,200 for it. You won.

Personally, I've had awesome results buying 6-12 year old cars in the $3,000 to 6k range. I've driven some for a year or two, and sold them for what I paid originally.