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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi—my 1999 2.0 gas GLS has a failure in the 5-speed manual transmission. It’s making an awful racket when I turn right and 2 shops tracked it to the differential. It’s $1,500 to install a used transmission ($650 part) plus possibly another $450 to replace the clutch plate, so about $2000. Is it worth fixing it?

  • 150,000 original miles (I bought it brand new)
  • I can do basic repairs, but don’t have shop space (outside only)
  • major repairs completed to date:
- window regulators, fuel door release cable, windshield wiper motor, trunk latch, other trim issues (headliner, door panels, etc.)
- A/C compressor in 2005
- door lock module, foam pieces blowing from vents in 2010
- water pump in 2012
- fuse box (by battery), oil cooler seals, strut mounts & lower control arms in 2016
- shifter glides in shift mechanism, right CV axle, transmission in 2019
- some things are starting to degrade, like vacuum hoses
(other stuff I’m forgetting!)

I saw a 2013 turbo convertible Beetle for sale...around $14,000, 40,000 miles. My independent VW mechanic warned about rear windows separating; $2000 to replace top as a foreseeable future repair. He was concerned about turbo issues in general, too, saying they always have issues.

it seems like the question is: what other major repairs are likely in the next few years and do they outweigh the depreciation I’d see on a 2013 convertible? I’m guessing the car will drop $5000 or so in 5 years...will I spend that much on this car or be driven mad with issues?

Do I fix it or dump it?
 

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I can't speak for beetles but my past cars all tend to be "not worth fixing" around the 20 year mark where the repair cost is higher then the cars value.


If personal attachment wasn't an issue I'd say trade it in for a slightly new model?

If you could get:
750 trade in (KKB says around 1k trade in value)
2000 from not doing the repair
~~~~
2750

^Could be 50%~ of a 07-09 or 25% of a 10-13 upgrade.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If you could get:
750 trade in (KKB says around 1k trade in value)
Thanks, Epi! Unfortunately I don’t think the trade-in will be anything without the repair; it’s essentially undriveable. Both mechanics that looked at it advised against driving it at all until repaired.

And, yeah, there’s some personal attachment, but it’s mostly the $10-15k outlay for a replacement. I’m thinking it may be worth doing the repair, drive it for a few years, and keep my eyes open for a replacement.

The mechanic offered to keep it in exchange for waiving a $400 restocking fee for the already-purchased replacement transmission. If I don’t fix it, I have to pay him $400 and maybe get $200 from a junk service. I guess I’d only be out $200 then!
 

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I just had the transmission out of my daughters 2001 Beetle, for a new clutch.These really aren't that hard to do. I removed the entire front end, mostly because I wanted to, but you can do a clutch or transmission replacement without taking all that stuff off. If you already have a good used transmission I'd stick it in and motor on. Of course I'd do this work myself, when you start paying someone else that's when the costs begin to mount up.

 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks--I’m pretty handy, but don’t think I could replace a trans myself, especially out on a public street.
If you already have a good used transmission I'd stick it in and motor on. Of course I'd do this work myself, when you start paying someone else that's when the costs begin to mount up.

 

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Do I fix it or dump it?
FWIW, the car is probably only worth a couple grand. That being said, looking at the decision practically, it might be worth it. For 2K will get you a car that you know the complete history of. If the car is otherwise in good condition, if you have always serviced it regularly, then it could last you many more years. Four years ago when I sold my '99, it had 250k on the odometer. I sold it to a friend for $1000 to be is daughters first car. She drove it for about three and now it's been handed down to his son. It may have a lot more life in it. As for other things that may go wrong, I replaced an alternator and AC compressor and did a little front suspension work but nothing that I would call "major". So think about it like this. You could just hang onto it, service it when it needs, and drive it for another 20 years. You can then be one of those guys that doesn't have one of those "I wish I never sold that car" stories.
 

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From my experience with front wheel drive cars is that when you turn and you hear that noise. It was the cv joint on the axle on the side that's making the noise. I would look to see if onne of the boots are bad first before I would change out the transmission and all that. To me, I could be wrong, if so someone please correct me. But I would think that if it was a transmission issue. There would be a problem with shifting, gears grinding while shifting, slipping when you give it gas. All of that can probably be traced to a clutch issue. Or you might have noises with in the transmission while driving. I'm not a mechanic by any means. I've never had the money to go to a shop. So I've always had to do it myself or get a friend to help if they know. But I just don't trust most shop's. The axle replacement is easy and not much money compared to a transmission and axle replacement. Replacing an axle is easy if you have some knowledge about car's. I say check the axle because it's funny to me that it's when you turn. I would think that it would be constantly doing it when you drive. Not just turn. But I could be wrong. I always try to rule out the things that could cause it and go from there.
 

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I have to agree with speedracer, if you hadn’t said two shops have come to the conclusion that it’s the transmission, my first thought was axle/cv. These 5 spd manuals are almost bullet proof, they rarely fail unless they are run low on fluid or abused greatly. Unlike almost every automatic transmission ever made.

I would definitely eliminate the axle before I condemned the transmission.
 

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It’s a judgement call

If you really like the car I’d Probabaly spend the money and get it fixed

Buying another heard car is a gamble
And if your state charges sales tax you’re gonna spend at least half the repair just on sales tax and registration for the $14k replacement

I don’t think a 2013 convertible is worth $14k

We are getting ready to spend $2,200 on a 2000 tdi 5 speed with 230k on it
We’ve owned it for ten years and put 100k on it
It needs a timing belt , water pump and idlers: $800, and the original clutch is not slipping but it makes a noise , and that’s $1,200.
The CV joints are fine , but the boots are torn , so they won’t last too long : $300

The work costs more than the car is worth but I don’t think we could find another one for the money ,
Plus the history of the replacement car would be unknown .

The risk you run is having the engine blow (do the gassers blow when the timing belt breaks ?) or the car getting wrecked shortly after you make the repair and haven’t driven it enough to get some of the value back from the repair
 

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I have to agree with userbronco and Jarhead too. The only reason I got the beetle that I have now is because my 06 Nissan got totaled. It was a good car. It had gotten a little rough looking and only needed struts and shocks. But it was paid for. So if I had to put $1000 or so into it. That's cheaper than a note for the next 5-7 yrs. Plus it was my father-in-law's car. So I put all 200k on it. He only put about 35+-k. . But it's up to what you need. Axles are not bad to replace.
 

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I just dropped about 4g into my 2000. All of the commenters made excellent points. My first thought was cv joint / axle also. As for possible future repairs.... I've decided that there's more parts than I can count on a car and mine are mostly 20yrs old or 150k old. My recent fixes were struts shocks springs, radiator, pcv hose, intake manifold gasket, steering rack, full exhaust, maf sensor, coil packs, tires. I'm looking at timing belt, shifter linkage, e brake cables currently.

Lots of excellent points made earlier, I'd read it twice. I'm keeping mine.
Awful you don't have a workspace; maybe you could rent a space for a month???
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Sorry—I missed all these replies; didn’t get notifications!

I went ahead with the repair, for all the reasons you all mentioned. And the first mechanic actually thought it was the CV axle and even found a torn boot and so replaced the axle...but the noise continued. The 2nd mechanic had it on the lift, running in 2nd gear, and used a bar to stop the right wheel turning...and the banging could be heard and felt from the transmission. They didn’t even bother opening it...said it’s not worth the effort; easier to just replace it.

I went thru 20 years of car repair receipts and I've spent about $5k total in repairs before transmission or about $250/year. Another $2k on maintenance or about $100/year. Seems low compared to most people I talk to. Major things already repaired were listed above and the mechanic thought the car was in decent shape and should last awhile. We'll see!
 

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Sorry—I missed all these replies; didn’t get notifications!

I went ahead with the repair, for all the reasons you all mentioned. And the first mechanic actually thought it was the CV axle and even found a torn boot and so replaced the axle...but the noise continued. The 2nd mechanic had it on the lift, running in 2nd gear, and used a bar to stop the right wheel turning...and the banging could be heard and felt from the transmission. They didn’t even bother opening it...said it’s not worth the effort; easier to just replace it.

I went thru 20 years of car repair receipts and I've spent about $5k total in repairs before transmission or about $250/year. Another $2k on maintenance or about $100/year. Seems low compared to most people I talk to. Major things already repaired were listed above and the mechanic thought the car was in decent shape and should last awhile. We'll see!
Let us know what happens. Keep it or sale it.
 
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