I drive a 2000 Saturn SL2 with about 85k miles on it. My grandfather bought it in 2004 with 48k miles on it, and left it to me in December 2016 with 52k miles on it. I’ve put about 33k on it since of course, having had it going on 4 years.
I’m not a car guy but I’ve been pretty sure that the transmission isn’t the best. It’s slow to accelerate and jumpy when switching gears and always has been (my guess is due to my grandfather barely driving it for 12 years). No true issues ever though. Until now.
2-3 weeks ago I took the car to Vavoline for an oil change and they told me that according to Saturn, the car was due for transmission fluid and radiator fluid (whether this is simply “changing” the fluid because it is old, or adding new fluid, and whether those are even different is completely lost on me). I didn’t have the time that day plus I know they are notorious upsellers so I opted not to, thinking I’d take it to my mechanic. They did not give me any sense that this was highly urgent. Howeever, since they did say the car needs these every 30k miles according to Saturn, and I’ve driven it almost exactly that much, it checks out.
Here’s where I may have messed up. I drove north for a trip last week which involved me putting 400-500 miles on the car in short succession, including 2 150 mile or so trips, and driving up several fairly steep mountains (this part was an accident/not on purpose). Luckily, yesterday I set an appointment with a good local mechanic I trust to check the fluid issue. But today when I was driving around town the car did not sound right. By the time I was getting home it literally sounded like a motorcycle, and right as I pulled into my driveway the service engine light came on.
Like I said luckily I’m bringing it in Monday anyway, but what am I likely to be looking at here and how much (ballpark) would it run cost wise? According to Kelly Blue Book the car is worth anywhere from 1000-2500 when running properly (depending on trade in or private sale) so I will fix it for a reasonable price but there is a price point at which that would not make sense. Did I screw myself driving it that much with low/old transmission fluid, or will the problem maybe be resolved just by dealing with that?
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