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Short Version: I have a faulty TCM. Dealer wants $1,500. I am interested in doing the swap myself with a used TCM, if it would be practical to do so. Any suggestions?

Long Version: I have a 2002 Beetle GL 2.0 Auto with 150,000 (new transmission at 110,000). Recently, car has been going into limp mode in the morning. Usually I can turn it off and on and it goes back into basic and runs/shifts like a beauty. It is getting worse i.e. going into limp mode more regularly than 2 months ago.

(Side note - Took it to Frank's Auto in Costa Mesa. Anyone in Orange County should consider this mechanic. I came in for a starter replacement. He asked if I knew why my engine light was on and I told him about the transmission issue. He spent about an hour going through a diagnosis including ride along and came up with a TCM error P0700. He recommended that I get the transmission issue resolved before I spend $305 to replace the starter. He thought it was probably the TCM because of the fact that it was in limp mode and then when he wiped the error, the car shifted like brand new. He recommended that I take it to a dealer and pay the $130 to get the absolute answer before putting any more money into the car (in case it needed a new transmission). Then he changed my oil using synthetic oil that I provided. He charged me $30 for everything.)

Took it to Commonwealth VW in Santa Ana. Dealer told me that there is a faulty TCM after $130 in diagnostic. Nonchalantly, the service guy said it would be $1100 for the part and $400 for labor.

I asked the service lady for her recommendation considering the fact that the car is creeping up in age and mileage i.e. am I better off getting a new car? She said that I should think about the $1500 TCM repair as a car payment of $125 per month for one year whereas with a new car I would have a minimum $240 per month payment for 3+ years. She concluded that, logically and economically better to get the repair. I replied that her explanation and reasoning was perfect except for the fact that it seems to omit an important factor -- if I do go ahead with the repair and pay it off in a year, it will paid off, but I won't have a NEW car.

What is my best bet moving forward? Can I find a used TCM? Any suggestions for SoCal? I know removing the dash isn't difficult, but can I install the TCM myself? What about programming? Money is definitely tight, so I would prefer to hang on to this car, but if it would be more cost effective and efficient to purchase a new car (or certified used), then I would do that.

Any answers/suggestions would be appreciated.
 

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Welcome to the best place to learn about the beetle. Hope to see more from you around here! I'm having similar thoughts around doing some major work on my NB. Looking to invest $2000 and am sure that investing will still have a great car that will take me another 100000+ miles. But it will still be a used car that's only worth $4K at best.
 

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Welcome...this is a great place full of wonderful people that are always ready to share a wealth of information. I wish I could help you; but I don't really know much about anything except loving my Iggy and searching for answers. I am sure that there will be somebody soon that will chime in and have some actual answers for you. Hope everything works out OK.
 
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