Save your clunker

Advice your mechanic never gave you that could save you thousands…

Saving the family car

If you are nursing your old clunker in an attempt to avoid the expense of purchasing a new one, you are not alone. Many families are really feeling the pinch of high housing costs, high gasoline costs and stagnant wages – unless of course you are working for minimum wage, in that case you are still not setting the world on fire, but at least you received a wage increase recently.

Our family has been driving a 1995 Mercury Mystique for the past six-years or so and I’ve done my best to keep up with the maintenance on it. Two months ago we had a front-end alignment done, new brakes, and we added new tires all the way around. I felt really good about getting these needed repairs done and knowing that our car would last a few more years. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

In the process of making all these repairs, I had the radiator and the transmission both flushed, the oil changed and even purchased an expensive engine additive. Immediately after the radiator was flushed, we blew a tiny radiator hose, leaving us stranded for the very first time. Fortunately, we were stranded in our own driveway. A tow to the garage and later that day we were good to go. No big deal, until…

The transmission began to slip a few days later, then we lost second and fourth gears. Big problem. We checked with a local transmission shop to see if it could be repaired: no such luck. These transmissions are known to have problems and the only solution was to replace it, at a cost of $3,000.00 – nevermind that the blue book on the car is only $950. We were recently offered a mere $100 for it on a trade-in towards a new vehicle.

This is the second time this has happened to me and I have no one to blame, but myself. The tranmission specialist informed my husband and I that had I not flushed the transmission, in all likelihood it would have lasted for quite some time.

I’m not saying you should never flush your transmission, quite the opposite. It’s very important to flush the transmission each year, but if you are unable to afford the expense and you let it go for a few years, skip it altogether. Flushing the transmission after it hasn’t been done for several years can cause the metal chips to break free that collect in the transmission and gunk up the gears, resulting in the very transmission problems you were trying to avoid in the first place.

The very same thing happened to our last vehicle. It worked fine until after I had the transmission flushed, only that time we merely lost reverse. We drove it for a year with no reverse, which got very interesting at times.

The moral of the story is if you haven’t kept up on the maintenance of your transmission, don’t try to play catch-up. You won’t be doing yourself or your vehicle any favors. We learned an expensive lesson. I only wish someone had warned us sooner.

Related Articles