Reader Question: Hi!
Our 2002 Land Rover Freelander’s transmission gave up on us about 2 weeks ago (it does not want to go to third gear). We bought it used at a used car dealer with 53K miles on it; it now has around 73K.
We took it to a mechanic on Monday. He said we need a new transmission. It will cost us $3,500 to have it fixed. My husband and I are now in a dilemma. We do not know if we are still going to have it fixed or just use the money as a down payment for a new car, because we still have 3 years of payment due on the truck.
Please advise us on what would be our best solution, many thanks!
I have been thinking about this and I can really only come up with two viable/ethical solutions.
1. Talk to a few more transmission shops in your area and get them to give you quotes on just repairing the main problem and not to completely overhaul the entire transmission. I would assume you just have a problem with either the third gear clutch or the electronic solenoids that control third gear and overdrive.
I would also assume that the transmission can be removed from the vehicle and the main problem be replaced…i.e. third gear clutch or what ever and that you should be able to do this repair for less than $1800. To get this price you will probably have to visit a few transmission shops IN PERSON and find out by talking with them if they are in the mood to try to help you or if they just want to sell you a complete overhaul like the other mechanic you talked with.
Once the transmission is disassembled, they should be able to give you an estimated life expectancy of the rest of the transmission, so you can determine if you really want to keep this vehicle or trade it off now and take a loss on the balance owed.
These transmissions are special and if you have never overhauled one before you might not be a good candidate for this repair, so ask the shops if they are experienced with this make and model. I would also get a written estimate spelled out in plain English you only wish to do the minimum amount of work at the minimum cost to get the transmission to shift properly.
2. Second option would be to start calling the junk yards in your area to see what is available as far as buying a complete used transmission. Then you can pay your local general auto repair shop mechanic to install the transmission for you. I would expect to pay $350-500 to install your furnished used transmission…at least in the Houston area that is what I would expect to pay.
If you live in a small town, you might have to call some out of town or even some out of state junk yards to find this not so common transmission. I would also expect to pay $1000+ for a used transmission for this vehicle (I have actually never bought a used Freelander transmission before so I really do not know the going rate). Prices are junk yards are negotiable and cash talks!
You can also ask the junk yard to “run it on the Hot Line” which is a radio network of junk yards that can save you TONS of time calling each store individually.
Reader Updates: Hi Austin,
Thank you for replying to my e-mail. We are going to follow your suggestion and take the truck to another mechanic.
I have asked another transmission repair shop. They told me they do not replace the entire transmission, they fix what needs to be fixed. They gave me an estimate of around $2,000 to $3,000 (depending on the problem, but they said it might be only just electrical) for the repair.
I hope it really is around that price, if it is, we might trade in our car for a brand new cheap reliable car. Do you think it is a better idea than keeping our truck and wish that our truck will not give us any more headaches?
Thank you so much for your patience,
Hey again Jenny,
That is a TOUGH call! If you really like this vehicle and can see yourself driving in it another few years, then $2K might be justified. If you already spent close to $2K on repairs the last year…then you might want to get out from under this vehicle.
If you spend $2K on the transmission that is basically a $200 car payment on top of the actual car note you are currently paying PLUS any additional repairs that might be needed this year, which no on can easily predict.
It is a gamble.
I would have your local mechanic look your vehicle over as if you were going to buy it used from an individual and tell you what repairs they recommend now and what they can for see in the immediate 6-month future.
I would also check online and in your local paper for similar vehicles to yours and see, what the going sales price is if you decide to sell it as is.
If you can get more than what you owe on it, it might be wise to sell it as is…there is always a shady tree mechanic out there willing to do repair themselves is they can buy the car cheap enough.
Since you really don’t know what the exact problem is……you would not be lying or doing anything unethical, just inform them you don’t want to take the time or the resources to get the problem diagnosed or repaired…..that will be the responsibility of the buyer. Make darn sure you get a SOLD AS IS contract and have a notary witness the sale.
My side note: I personally do not like these vehicles because they are not easy to work on, the parts are expensive and you do not have many choices of parts brands or other options like you would if it was a Chevy or a Ford. If this were a Chevy Suburban or a Ford Expedition, you would have a few more options and choices as to who will do the repairs.
Reader Follow Up
hi again Austin 🙂
If we’d known that this car would cause us a lot of headaches, we would never had traded in our matrix. We’re going to have our car check by another mechanic on Wednesday, he gave us an estimate of $1,500 for the entire transmission. I hope he’s right.
I’ve read on several forums about our car and it’s not good. we’re lucky that our transmission died at 73k miles, for some their’s died at 40k and after fixing the tranny, some other problem comes up. we still owe around $13K for the car. I want to trade the car after fixing it, but our problem is my husband doesn’t have good credit, I have no credit, so even if we wanted to trade I don’t think that any bank would lend us money.
But we don’t want to pay for any more possible repairs on the car. we just had the brakes repaired last year for $600, and i think it’s time to change it again, its making the screeching sound again. doesn’t look like we have a lot of options.. 🙁 thank you so much, i really appreciate your help 🙂