Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

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climber2020
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Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by climber2020 »

I have a 2012 Camry. A few years ago, Toyota sent out a notice about issues with the torque converter causing the car to shudder under certain conditions. Took it to the dealership and they did a software update for free. Fixed the problem and no issues for several years after. Now the car is exhibiting the same issue where there's a brief light vibration between 40 and 50 mph when I press the gas lightly. Does not affect driving at all except for a minor nuisance, and it doesn't happen all the time. Called Toyota corporate and the extended warranty period expired for my car over a year and a half ago, so the repair is no longer covered.

Called a local transmission shop who will take a look at my car next week. The repair could cost anywhere from a few hundred bucks if it turns out to be a minor issue, around $2000 to replace just the torque converter, or up to $3500 to $4000 if the entire transmission needs to be replaced.

The car is 9+ years old and has 133000 miles on it. Other than the above issue, it drives great and hasn't required any work other than the usual routine maintenance.

Thinking worst case scenario, would it be worth 4 grand to get a new transmission? Typically I'd be hesitant to spend that much money on an almost 10 year old car, but this is quite possibly the worst time in our lifetimes to buy a new car, so I'm leaning toward repairing it. I have no desire to get a new car if mine will go for another 5 years or so. The other option would be to just drive the car as is until it dies and hope that the car market has stabilized by then, but we do take road trips several times a year and it'd be a pain if the car died 300 miles away from home. Does anyone here know if a torque converter shudder will eventually wreck the transmission?

Any thoughts/advice is greatly appreciated as always.

Update 3-30-22:
Took my car to a local transmission place. They advised doing a transmission fluid flush first to see if the issue improves. No mention of any serious problems beyond that for now. I'll update again once I've driven the car for a few weeks.

Update 4-6-22 (1 week since repair):
It's been one week since the transmission flush. I've been driving the car every day like usual and so far no shudder. No new issues with the car either. I'll update again later on.

Update 6-22-22 (almost 3 months since repair):
Shudder issue seems to have resolved. No recurring problems so far.
Last edited by climber2020 on Wed Jun 22, 2022 1:56 pm, edited 3 times in total.
smitcat
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by smitcat »

How many times have you had the transmission fluid flushed and replaced over the years?
Did they do that when they updated the software?
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Indeed, you'd ideally have done fluid changes every 30k miles. If you do it that often, you can do the "easy" way of draining what will come out with a simply drain bolt removal and then fill. Do the fluid and filter at 100k.

I would ask the mechanic what will happen if you ignore it and just keep driving. I always ask this as there is often the answer like "It won't hurt anything. You'll just get the annoying shudder at low speed". And if that's the case, just drive it.
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dbr
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by dbr »

Your actual question is:

". . . we do take road trips several times a year and it'd be a pain if the car died 300 miles away from home. Does anyone here know if a torque converter shudder will eventually wreck the transmission?"

I don't know the answer to whether or not your transmission now has a significant probability of breaking down and leaving you stranded, but if being stranded on a road trip is a significant concern and you don't get a clear answer that breakdown is highly unlikely, then I would repair the transmission. A point is that you have already reaped huge use of this car for the cost paid and spending 10% of the cost of a new car to extend the reliability should not be a problem. Under other circumstances replacing a ten year old car is hardly crazy.

The idea of a drain and flush seems on point. What does the owner's manual say about transmission maintenance?
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mmmodem
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by mmmodem »

I wouldn't buy a car in today's market if I can help it. I'd choose to continue driving your vehicle as-is because the risk of spending $4k is the same amount as getting the vehicle fixed now. If nothing happens after 5 years then fixing now would be locking in that cost. My 13 year old vehicle has shudders, judders, squeaks, rattles, and shakes all over the place that didn't exist when new. It's my daily driver and didn't have to go far. I rent or drive another vehicle for long distance travel.

Agree with above, I'd do transmission fluid change and hope for the best. Good luck, OP.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by jeffyscott »

climber2020 wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 9:14 amThe car is 9+ years old and has 133000 miles on it. Other than the above issue, it drives great and hasn't required any work other than the usual routine maintenance.

...we do take road trips several times a year and it'd be a pain if the car died 300 miles away from home. Does anyone here know if a torque converter shudder will eventually wreck the transmission?
I don't know, but your car will soon be 10+ years old with 150K+ miles on it. With or without this repair, a breakdown when 300 miles away from home will be a possibility (even for a Toyota).
this is quite possibly the worst time in our lifetimes to buy a new car
But that is offset, to some extent, by it also possibly being the best time in your lifetime to sell a used car. Maybe check what CarMax and/or dealer would pay for it?
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by whodidntante »

First, it likely makes sense to fix this car, unless selling it as a mechanic's special is more profitable. The question of replacing it is the main decision.

A 2012 was likely built in 2011, so it's closer to an 11-year-old car than a 9-year-old car. With high mileage. Sorry, but it's high. The people who think that a Toyota is automatically good for 300-500k with just gas and oil changes are just wrong. That happens but those cars are the outliers. You're far more likely to fall in the meat of the bell curve. Now the oil lubricated parts of the engine stand a decent chance of going that far, but the car will basically fall apart around those parts until you get tired of repairing it and it becomes a hooptie.

All I'm saying is you now drive a car that is going to have higher costs going forward and is an old car that isn't as nice, regardless of your brand perceptions or what you think you need.

I realize that this is not for everyone, but before going to a transmission shop, I would probably do a fluid change just hoping to get lucky. And make sure that the sensors of the transmission are OK. Also look at forums to determine common causes of the symptoms your car has and repairs. I don't like loading the parts cannon but it's fine if you keep it cheap. The gamble has paid off for me before. I have successfully repaired two transmissions for < $100 (doing all work myself) that I was told needed replacement. One was to replace a broken internal accumulator piston spring, and the other was to replace a sensor that told the transmission control module the position of the gear selector.

Any condition issues besides the mechanical failure? Rust under the car or in the wheel wheels, body damage, that broken passenger side whatever? Four grand for a transmission wouldn't mechanically total it, but it's tickling it. Major rust could total most cars, however. As could a laundry list of issues/hooptie neglect.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by OpenMinded1 »

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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by OpenMinded1 »

whodidntante wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 9:55 am First, it likely makes sense to fix this car, unless selling it as a mechanic's special is more profitable. The question of replacing it is the main decision.

A 2012 was likely built in 2011, so it's closer to an 11-year-old car than a 9-year-old car. With high mileage. Sorry, but it's high. The people who think that a Toyota is automatically good for 300-500k with just gas and oil changes are just wrong. That happens but those cars are the outliers. You're far more likely to fall in the meat of the bell curve. Now the oil lubricated parts of the engine stand a decent chance of going that far, but the car will basically fall apart around those parts until you get tired of repairing it and it becomes a hooptie.

All I'm saying is you now drive a car that is going to have higher costs going forward and is an old car that isn't as nice, regardless of your brand perceptions or what you think you need.

I realize that this is not for everyone, but before going to a transmission shop, I would probably do a fluid change just hoping to get lucky. And make sure that the sensors of the transmission are OK. Also look at forums to determine common causes of the symptoms your car has and repairs. I don't like loading the parts cannon but it's fine if you keep it cheap. The gamble has paid off for me before. I have successfully repaired two transmissions for < $100 (doing all work myself) that I was told needed replacement. One was to replace a broken internal accumulator piston spring, and the other was to replace a sensor that told the transmission control module the position of the gear selector.

Any condition issues besides the mechanical failure? Rust under the car or in the wheel wheels, body damage, that broken passenger side whatever? Four grand for a transmission wouldn't mechanically total it, but it's tickling it. Major rust could total most cars, however. As could a laundry list of issues/hooptie neglect.
Wasn't sure what a hooptie was, so I googled it and found the following lyrics from a song by Sir Mix-o-Lot. :D :D (Had never heard of him.)

My hooptie rollin', tailpipe draggin'
Heat don't work an' my girl keeps naggin'
Six-nine Buick, deuce keeps rollin'
One hubcap 'cause three got stolen
Bumper shook loose, chrome keeps scrapin'
Mis-matched tires, and my white walls flakin'
Hit mickey-d's, Maharaji starts to bug
He ate a quarter-pounder, threw the pickles on my rug
Runnin', movin' tabs expired
Girlies tryin' to dis 'n say my car looks tired
Hit my brakes, out slid skittles
Tinted back window with a bubble in the middle
Who's car is it? Posse won't say
We all play it off when you look our way
Rollin' four deep, tires smoke up the block
Gotta roll this bucket, 'cause my Benz is in the shop

I get rid of my vehicles at about 150K even if they are still running okay. This has worked out for me real well over my 45 years or so of owning cars.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by whodidntante »

OpenMinded1 wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 10:25 am Wasn't sure what a hooptie was, so I googled it and found the following lyrics from a song by Sir Mix-o-Lot. :D :D (Had never heard of him.)
That song is a work of art! :P
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by THY4373 »

I agree with others to try a fluid change first if you have not been changing it regularly. If you haven't been changing it regularly I'd also suggest you go to a mechanic who has a machine to flush out the entire system. Dropping the pan only gets part of the fluid. It is possible to change all the fluid yourself using the transmission to pump out the fluid while the car is running but this can be tricky (I have done it) so I don't suggest that unless you are pretty handy.

I'd also head over to some Toyota forums to see how serious this issue is maybe it is something you can live with.

Finally you might also want to consider just replacing the current transmission with a good use one from a junk yard. There is some risk to this but it ought to be a lot cheaper than putting a new/rebuilt one.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by Kagord »

I would shop around for other shops (local import/Toyota shop) to just replace the torque converter, $2K sounds really high for this, Googling, the part is only around $250, and I don't think it would be more than 4-6 hours of labor.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by Outer Marker »

climber2020 wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 9:14 am I have a 2012 Camry. A few years ago, Toyota sent out a notice about issues with the torque converter causing the car to shudder under certain conditions. Took it to the dealership and they did a software update for free. Fixed the problem and no issues for several years after. Now the car is exhibiting the same issue where there's a brief light vibration between 40 and 50 mph when I press the gas lightly. Does not affect driving at all except for a minor nuisance, and it doesn't happen all the time. Called Toyota corporate and the extended warranty period expired for my car over a year and a half ago, so the repair is no longer covered.
If its a known product defect, and the software fix didn't fix it, I would not give up on a warranty claim. Being an effective complainer, contacting the General Counsel's office, state consumer protection, etc. can produce results.

Failing that, as others have suggested, if a mechanic advises its going to just continue to be a nusiance, I'd just drive it.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by adamthesmythe »

Things to think about

1. It's an older and high mileage car. Is it your ONLY car or do you have another?

2. You THINK you know what the problem is. And the transmission shop might not diagnose it correctly. It seems to me there is a significant chance you spend money and it isn't fixed.

3. MAYBE this is the kind of thing where you can use the car for a considerable time even if it's not perfect.

4. Car availability is poor and prices are high.

Not and easy decision. You pays yer money and you takes yer chances.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by climber2020 »

Thanks for the replies so far.

To address the common questions:

I had the transmission fluid changed at 130,000 miles and it did help significantly reduce both the frequency and severity of the shudder, but it didn't completely get rid of it. Prior to that, I got the transmission fluid inspected every 30,000 miles like the manual suggested, but I think this was the first time that the shop actually recommended changing the fluid (the owner's manual never specifies a mileage interval where it absolutely must be changed; lesson learned for my next car. I'm super careful about my car maintenance, but was somehow ignorant on this one aspect).
adamthesmythe wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 11:50 am 1. It's an older and high mileage car. Is it your ONLY car or do you have another?
My wife has a 2021 Civic that we bought a year ago literally a couple of months before prices shot up and dealership lots emptied out. Got super lucky on the timing. For our longer road trips, we'll likely use that car.
whodidntante wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 9:55 am Any condition issues besides the mechanical failure? Rust under the car or in the wheel wheels, body damage, that broken passenger side whatever? Four grand for a transmission wouldn't mechanically total it, but it's tickling it. Major rust could total most cars, however. As could a laundry list of issues/hooptie neglect.
As far as I know, other than what I described above, the car is in good shape. I live in a place where rust isn't a significant problem.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by wm631 »

I'll try to save you a bit of research time here, though you're probably already exhausting the Internet - as I did.

I just had this replaced in the last two months, at my local long-standing/used trusted (?) Toyota dealership. This was for a 2012 Toyota Tacoma, one driver, superbly-kept-carefully driven and religiously maintained, 56,000 miles. Have used the mentioned dealership for all maintenance (even, tires and battery changes). Long story short: cost for torque converter replacement AND transmission fluid change: $2057.00 ($1233 parts, $824 labor). Did the fix work? Yes. A bad shudder that had developed in accelerating into second gear (25-35 miles an hour) like going over a rumble strip was eliminated. I noticed afterwards - almost immediately - a "slight" shudder now "DOWN-accelerating" from about 30-20 mph. Not enough to really fixate on, let alone annoy - I'll live with it. All this has been consistent for the past two months since the repair. I'll "assume" at this point the repair is "good" (... well ... until further notice ...).

A few notes for you. I had the repair done for several reasons.

(1) I've always intended to keep the truck for at least another few years. And, absolutely no problems otherwise, love my truck. The cost of new Tacomas is now $35,000-$45,000 range and, frankly ?, this isn't the time to buy anything; especially "new". Aside from the insane price increases, many of the stock have been sitting in this two-year COVID environment sometimes months on end. That means: fluids, rubber components, etc. have been sitting in them, too. Common sense will tell you the rest. I don't have a great answer here, except if you DON'T really have to buy an auto. in 2022 it might be better to hold neutral on it, until at least the supply chain begins to straighten out a bit (though, obviously the price increases will continue).

(2) I took a big chance with the repair. From what I saw on multiple Toyota blogs it IS this expensive, and not something a less-than pro wants to attempt. It's an all-day job (my dealership threw in a rental car, no charge). Additionally, it seems to be a known problem to Toyota ESPECIALLY with older Camrys (there's recalls for it) . Why my Tacoma? From what I can see, "occasionally" it happens but, as my dealership rep. said: they had many on the older Camrys, it was the first he had seen for a Tacoma.

(3) Transmission fluid change. In my opinion, mandatory - maybe do it first. I almost wish I had, brooded over taking it separately to a transmission shop FIRST (had diagnosed "torque converter problem" to my own satisfaction via the Internet - thanks Toyota owner blogs ...). Over and over, afflicted owners suggested doing the transmission fluid change COMPLETELY (a total flush, not just a replacement of the fluid). It often worked, without a torque converter replacement (... though, not always). It might be worth the upfront $100+ first.

An important side addendum. I had JUST had the transmission fluid changed (yes, "flushed" ...) at the dealership, about three months earlier. Not the first transmission change, and "flush" ever done with them (maybe, the 3rd for my truck there, since 2012?). I never had a problem afterwards, in that regard. Is it possible they screwed that up, at the time? i.e., bad fluid, poor flushing? I'll never know. I do know they double-checked the fluid at my request, before replacing the torque converter and the fluid again. It was ok. Again, I could have taken it to a neutral shop, got a second opinion and, transmission fluid change first.

(4) Finally, does it fix it, for good? What happens if you live with it?

From the blogs, it's not always a complete "fix" (I outlined, above, my own "quirk" afterwards). Sometimes it seems to return after a few months. Living with it seems to be a crap shoot; it's tough to get a blog consensus. If not addressed, it "could" totally destroy your engine. Or, not. One Tacoma owner followed up on the blogs about a year later to a query, and said he was still living with the shudder. He had only flushed/changed the transmission fluid, the shudder remained. He couldn't really afford the large expense (how many non-Bogleheads can?) Is it actually just a fairly benign development in older post-2000 Tacomas? To quote my Uncle Clint: do you feel lucky?

The other questions for you: Do you want to keep it a few more years? Can you live with the shudder? Avoid bad karma in re-selling (personally, I like a clear conscience ...). It IS a known problem.

Anyway. Hope the above helps. Good luck in a tough decision. It was, for me - but? - may have been worth the cost.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by tibbitts »

Update the thread when you get the estimate from the transmission shop, although if it's an intermittent problem, maybe it will be hard to find.

I would consider whether you'd rather have the car you have now vs. a new car. Years ago when I bought a new car I always looked forward to new features or a different capability. Now I haven't bought a new car for a while because I it seems like new cars are just a different combination of pros and cons vs. older cars, so that might favor spending the money to repair the car you have now. Maybe electric will change that but obviously we need to get to where you can stop at the equivalent of the ubiquitous gas station and charge up in ten minutes or something like that like.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by whodidntante »

wm631 wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 12:59 pm The other questions for you: Do you want to keep it a few more years? Can you live with the shudder? Avoid bad karma in re-selling (personally, I like a clear conscience ...). It IS a known problem.
I've sold a car with a mechanical problem I had no intention of repairing. I just told the buyer about it and let them decide, and priced the car fairly considering it had a mechanical problem. The main downside is selling a car like that is going to require more effort because some people won't read the ad, so they reach out only to back off when you tell them for the second time about the problem. Or they do read the ad but try to offer even less than the already discounted price. It's fine. Selling stuff to strangers is somewhat annoying even in the best case.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by climber2020 »

tibbitts wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 1:16 pm Update the thread when you get the estimate from the transmission shop, although if it's an intermittent problem, maybe it will be hard to find.
Will do. My appointment is at the end of the week so I’ll update once I have more info.
wm631 wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 12:59 pm I'll try to save you a bit of research time here, though you're probably already exhausting the Internet - as I did.
Thanks for the detailed info. It’s disappointing that Toyota doesn’t have a recall on this issue given how common it seems to be on the older Camrys.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by mkc »

climber2020 wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 9:14 am I have a 2012 Camry. A few years ago, Toyota sent out a notice about issues with the torque converter causing the car to shudder under certain conditions. Took it to the dealership and they did a software update for free. Fixed the problem and no issues for several years after. Now the car is exhibiting the same issue where there's a brief light vibration between 40 and 50 mph when I press the gas lightly. Does not affect driving at all except for a minor nuisance, and it doesn't happen all the time.
Have you had any other mechanic diagnose this as a torque converter issue?

Don't rule out coil packs, spark plugs, or injectors if those haven't been addressed with routine maintenance.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by climber2020 »

mkc wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 4:33 pm
Have you had any other mechanic diagnose this as a torque converter issue?

Don't rule out coil packs, spark plugs, or injectors if those haven't been addressed with routine maintenance.
I’m having the car looked at on Friday & will update after.

Spark plugs were replaced at 120k as recommended in the manual.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by Kenkat »

I would have it checked out and put a few hundred dollars into it, but I would just keep driving it and see if it gets worse before I’d put $2-4k into it. Especially if you have another car to drive on longer trips. I understand not everyone is comfortable with this type of approach however - aka drive it until the wheels fall off.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by wm631 »

climber2020 wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 3:24 pm
tibbitts wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 1:16 pm Update the thread when you get the estimate from the transmission shop, although if it's an intermittent problem, maybe it will be hard to find.
Will do. My appointment is at the end of the week so I’ll update once I have more info.
wm631 wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 12:59 pm I'll try to save you a bit of research time here, though you're probably already exhausting the Internet - as I did.
Thanks for the detailed info. It’s disappointing that Toyota doesn’t have a recall on this issue given how common it seems to be on the older Camrys.
Actually, they DO. And, it's for Camrys. A bulletin that I noticed on-line first, and it was verified by my service writer at the Toyota dealership (... he had already checked his info. to see if the recall applied also to nine year old Tacomas - no luck).

Sorry I can't tell you the actual bulletin recall number, but it shouldn't be hard to find on-line (if I remember, it was actually a link to a Facebook post, of all things, that I first saw it). The catch is mileage and/or Camry age. There was a limit.

It's worth checking the Toyota recall sites to see.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by climber2020 »

wm631 wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 5:37 pm
The catch is mileage and/or Camry age. There was a limit.

It's worth checking the Toyota recall sites to see.
Yes- it’s an “extended warranty” as opposed to a recall that has no time limit.

It’s 150k miles or 8 years from the time of purchase, which for me was over a year and a half ago (the car was fine then). The first time this happened, it was fixed with a free software update in 2017. That resolved the problem until recently.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

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climber2020 wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 9:14 am I have a 2012 Camry. A few years ago, Toyota sent out a notice about issues with the torque converter causing the car to shudder under certain conditions. Took it to the dealership and they did a software update for free. Fixed the problem and no issues for several years after. Now the car is exhibiting the same issue where there's a brief light vibration between 40 and 50 mph when I press the gas lightly. Does not affect driving at all except for a minor nuisance, and it doesn't happen all the time. Called Toyota corporate and the extended warranty period expired for my car over a year and a half ago, so the repair is no longer covered.

Called a local transmission shop who will take a look at my car next week. The repair could cost anywhere from a few hundred bucks if it turns out to be a minor issue, around $2000 to replace just the torque converter, or up to $3500 to $4000 if the entire transmission needs to be replaced.

The car is 9+ years old and has 133000 miles on it. Other than the above issue, it drives great and hasn't required any work other than the usual routine maintenance.

Thinking worst case scenario, would it be worth 4 grand to get a new transmission? Typically I'd be hesitant to spend that much money on an almost 10 year old car, but this is quite possibly the worst time in our lifetimes to buy a new car, so I'm leaning toward repairing it. I have no desire to get a new car if mine will go for another 5 years or so. The other option would be to just drive the car as is until it dies and hope that the car market has stabilized by then, but we do take road trips several times a year and it'd be a pain if the car died 300 miles away from home. Does anyone here know if a torque converter shudder will eventually wreck the transmission?

Any thoughts/advice is greatly appreciated as always.
Would you consider trading it in for a new Toyota Camry or Honda Accord?

j :D
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by climber2020 »

Sandtrap wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 5:51 pm
Would you consider trading it in for a new Toyota Camry or Honda Accord?

j :D
Sure, if the new car market wasn’t so ridiculous right now. I’d want something smaller for my next car like a Civic, and those are impossible to find at the moment anywhere near my city.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by Sandtrap »

climber2020 wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 5:57 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 5:51 pm
Would you consider trading it in for a new Toyota Camry or Honda Accord?

j :D
Sure, if the new car market wasn’t so ridiculous right now. I’d want something smaller for my next car like a Civic, and those are impossible to find at the moment anywhere near my city.
Corolla?
Rav4?
CRV?
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climber2020
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by climber2020 »

Sandtrap wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 6:01 pm Corolla?
Rav4?
CRV?
CRV and Rav4 are too big. I’d consider a Corolla or even a HRV which is the smaller version of a CRV, but even those are not readily available right now.
StarsandStripes
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by StarsandStripes »

I am having a transmission replaced in a Dodge Ram 2500 with 240,000 miles replaced as I write this. Probably towed too heavy. This decision was made because the truck is in good condition, new vehicle supply issues, and the sky high price of new vehicles.

Lessons learned: Transmissions are very complex and there are very few people who can rebuild them correctly.
When you open them up there usually is a gotcha waiting to get you. My problem started with a 1-2 governor pressure switch which morphed into a number of other issues.

It may be a better value to get a reman transmission especially if the known design problems are fixed in the rebuild. I went with a reman from a company that does nothing but rebuild Dodge trannies. Is there a company that does only Toyota transmissions?

Warranty on a reman is usually better than a rebuild. I have 100,000 miles 3 years no questions. After that it is 1000 dollars plus shipping to rebuild even if I break the input shaft towing too big of a load.

At the current prices I can put 10 full price new transmissions in my truck and still be ahead.

Good luck with your decision
Kagord
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by Kagord »

climber2020 wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 3:24 pm Thanks for the detailed info. It’s disappointing that Toyota doesn’t have a recall on this issue given how common it seems to be on the older Camrys.
They did have a service campaign, but they do put an end date on it. Given that your car is 10 years old, from a manufacturer's perspective, it's end of life. Toyota/Lexus does seem to do more of these service campaigns during the "useful life, which is good. I don't think other manufacturers do this as much. But, this makes it all the more frustrating when you are just outside the window, and they don't tend to budge on the dates.

For my Lexus, I got a letter for a service campaign, 7 days after it expired for me, and this is a $4-5K repair, which i hope I don't ever need. Thanks for sending me that letter telling me there's a potential issue that can happen, but I don't qualify.
Kris3
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by Kris3 »

You can do some research on torque shudder, but my experience was that ignoring it led to a new converter. I agree with replacing the fluid first and seeing if it will go away -- possible. Eventually, when the converter fails, the car will simply not shift into any gear and the fluid level will be way off (very high if memory serves). Also, the repair should be much closer to $1000 than $2000...they generally just need to drop the transmission and then have easy access to do a swap.

EDIT: also, use only an experienced and trusted mechanic...some will be more than happy to replace your transmission for this and collect a king's ransom. The shudder is a pretty clear case of TC and in my case, the transmission was otherwise fine.
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Tubes
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by Tubes »

Kris3 wrote: Sun Mar 20, 2022 5:56 am Also, the repair should be much closer to $1000 than $2000...they generally just need to drop the transmission and then have easy access to do a swap.
Except, of course, the shortage economy in automobiles is spreading and impacting the price for repairs too, like it or not.

Dealers are asking -- and getting -- $800 to swap out an axle of brake pads and rotors. Think they'll be happy with $1000 for "just" dropping a transmission to replace a torque converter?

Kris3, I'm not saying you are wrong. I'm agreeing with you. My frustration with the general state of everything automotive right now is coming through.
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Tubes
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by Tubes »

"living with it" is sometimes an interesting option.

The wife's 2009 Matrix has experienced a disturbing occasional grinding sound when engaging the starter. It started about 6 years ago. I was about to get the starter replaced, then got distracted. After living with it for a year, DW decided to keep living with it. Here we are 6 years later. I don't recommend this, but sometimes it is OK.

I have 2010 Subaru Legacy that has known torque converter issues. There were too many reports of early life failures where the whole car locked up at speed. Subaru put out an extended warranty for repair. Mine never got bad enough to take advantage of the terms of that warranty, and it has since expired. My car has shown a tendency to want to stall at a stop light due to this. 140k miles and 10 years later, it has never stalled yet, although it has come very close. I do not like this behavior, but I love everything else about the car. The standard repair quote on this is $2k to $4k, depending on the shop. So, I'm living with it despite all the horror stories I read about this problem.

Since OP's torque converter problems are coming on later, I probably wouldn't live with it. It is a sign of looming failure. (Although DW's starter shows there are exceptions.) My Subaru T.C. issues are more a design problem. There's a difference, however OP's description of the Toyota extended warranty is very close to the Subaru situation. The difference is I had the stall/shudder from day 1, OP's is coming on late.

BTW, Subaru also "fixed" the problem with software too. Basically juicing the idle at stop. Not a fix, just a patch in my book.
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climber2020
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by climber2020 »

Thanks again to all who replied. I'm constantly impressed by the wealth of knowledge here. I'll update this thread once I know more.

My plan of action so far is if it's just the torque converter or something simpler/cheaper, I'll get it fixed. If the shop advises a transmission swap, then I'll get a 2nd opinion from a different place and if they say the same, then I'll drive the car until either the transmission dies or the car market improves. We'll use my wife's car or I'll rent a car for long road trips.
Kris3 wrote: Sun Mar 20, 2022 5:56 am Also, the repair should be much closer to $1000 than $2000...they generally just need to drop the transmission and then have easy access to do a swap.
One place quoted me 2000, another quoted me 1700. I think it depends on the labor costs. I'm sure inflation + demand + shortages have jacked the price up.

I called the local Toyota dealership out of curiosity and they told me 4000 to 5000 for just the torque converter. Yeah, I don't think so :shock:
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Tubes
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by Tubes »

OP, glad you are looking beyond the stealership.

There are a lot of good independent transmission mechanics out there.
wm631
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by wm631 »

climber2020 wrote: Sun Mar 20, 2022 9:08 am Thanks again to all who replied. I'm constantly impressed by the wealth of knowledge here. I'll update this thread once I know more.

My plan of action so far is if it's just the torque converter or something simpler/cheaper, I'll get it fixed. If the shop advises a transmission swap, then I'll get a 2nd opinion from a different place and if they say the same, then I'll drive the car until either the transmission dies or the car market improves. We'll use my wife's car or I'll rent a car for long road trips.
Kris3 wrote: Sun Mar 20, 2022 5:56 am Also, the repair should be much closer to $1000 than $2000...they generally just need to drop the transmission and then have easy access to do a swap.
One place quoted me 2000, another quoted me 1700. I think it depends on the labor costs. I'm sure inflation + demand + shortages have jacked the price up.

I called the local Toyota dealership out of curiosity and they told me 4000 to 5000 for just the torque converter. Yeah, I don't think so :shock:
Then, it sounds like my own Toyota dealership wasn't ripping me off on the torque converter replacement costs. A bit higher than your non-dealership quotes - but, they also loaned me a free rental for almost 30 hrs., and state tax figures in for me; too (Pa.). As I mentioned, this was done in January. The estimate the Toyota dealership provided you is ... um ... suspicious. I'd stay away from there.

That said, if I had to do it again, I'd consider seriously having done the transmission flush separately first - for my own satisfaction, but .... mine is a Tacoma. Yours is a Camry, with not only years, but mileage too. Let's face it. It "appears" to be a textbook example of the problem. As I noted, my service writer said they had done quite a few on older Camrys. The fact that Toyota had to kinda be dragged into even finally extending the Camry warranty also says there must have been numerous complaints documented earlier.

Give us an update, if you can, later. There isn't a great deal current on this, easily available - I did all my research Internet piece-meal - and, there has to be a number of other unsuspecting Toyota owners it could also help when they go to Google themselves.
Johny Fever
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by Johny Fever »

Could be something really simple...most Toyota transmission are easy to repair...I would throw a can of Seafoam trans conditioner it and the drive it a bit then have a shop replace ALL the fluid in it with something like a BG trans flush machine. If not get a good used tranny out of the junk car and give that a try if you are cheap or have a good shop rebulit unit installed. We hardly ever rebuild transmissions anymore, we pull em and send them to our known tranny guy. Best of luck....that car has a LOT more miles left in it...
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dratkinson
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by dratkinson »

A 2012 Toyota Camry is ~$15K.
See: https://www.google.com/search?&q=2012+toyota+camry

Worst case. If you like your car, it might be less stressful to fix it than to replace it... and inherit unknown problems.


In doing your research, ask what AAMCO would charge to replace your transmission with a rebuilt one. (Data point. Long time ago, used them to fix a problem other shops couldn't. Haven't needed them since.)
d.r.a., not dr.a. | I'm a novice investor; you are forewarned.
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climber2020
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by climber2020 »

[Original post has been updated]

Took my car in this morning. A transmission flush was recommended, so I'm gonna try that and see how the car drives for the next few weeks. No recommendations currently on doing anything more labor intensive than that. I'll update again later on.
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mrmass
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by mrmass »

My step father is about to spend 2K on brakes, fuel line, and a bearing. He's driving a 2003 LeSabre. Gotta be worth 500 bucks.
1. He's 89
2. Drives about 20 miles per week to my mothers grave.
3. The stress of getting a new/used car is overwhelming.

I supported his decision.
robphoto
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by robphoto »

It's not clear from the above-- have you taken it to the Toyota dealer to ask them about this? If it's common, it could be another reprogramming, or a minor part of the transmission or whatever that needs to be fixed. A transmission shop will say it needs major transmission work, the Toyota dealer might have a different perspective on it.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by aas »

My 2005 Camry LE transmission fluid was replaced at 62k miles at a quick lube place and the car immediately developed a transmission shudder at certain speeds. I tried several things including having dealer do a a flush with OEM fluids and adding lubegard shudder fixx which helped but did not eliminate the shudder. Car now has 155k miles and still good but with the annoying shudder problem.
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climber2020
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by climber2020 »

robphoto wrote: Wed Mar 30, 2022 10:41 am It's not clear from the above-- have you taken it to the Toyota dealer to ask them about this? If it's common, it could be another reprogramming, or a minor part of the transmission or whatever that needs to be fixed. A transmission shop will say it needs major transmission work, the Toyota dealer might have a different perspective on it.
I called both my local dealership and Toyota corporate. Their fix is a new torque converter for $5000+ (that number doesn't include the actual transmission). I never get out-of-warranty work done at a dealership because it's a complete rip-off.

aas wrote: Wed Mar 30, 2022 10:46 am My 2005 Camry LE transmission fluid was replaced at 62k miles at a quick lube place and the car immediately developed a transmission shudder at certain speeds. I tried several things including having dealer do a a flush with OEM fluids and adding lubegard shudder fixx which helped but did not eliminate the shudder. Car now has 155k miles and still good but with the annoying shudder problem.
Good to hear this. I really don't care about the shudder, and it makes no difference in how the car drives; I just wanted to make sure it wasn't a sign of a bigger impending problem.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by wm631 »

climber2020 wrote: Wed Mar 30, 2022 10:15 am [Original post has been updated]

Took my car in this morning. A transmission flush was recommended, so I'm gonna try that and see how the car drives for the next few weeks. No recommendations currently on doing anything more labor intensive than that. I'll update again later on.
Please do. So will I (with my 2012 Toyota Tacoma torque converter + ATF flush). We can compare notes up the line on this weird, maddening situation. As I noted, so far - since January - my accelerating shudder's disappeared after the repair (or ... was it the ATF ...? :annoyed )
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climber2020
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by climber2020 »

[Original post has also been updated]

It's been one week since my transmission flush, and I've been driving the car every day. So far the shudder has not returned and the car drives smoothly.

I'll provide another update later on.
aas
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by aas »

That's great it worked out, thanks for the update
wm631
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by wm631 »

climber2020 wrote: Wed Apr 06, 2022 8:12 am [Original post has also been updated]

It's been one week since my transmission flush, and I've been driving the car every day. So far the shudder has not returned and the car drives smoothly.

I'll provide another update later on.
Excellent. Mine also, three months after the total repair including replacing the torque converter (and, ATF flush).

Wish I'd done the ATF first - as a test - but, lesson learned now. Should the symptoms return (well - after the year warranty on the torque converter replacement ....) that would be step one for me.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by finite_difference »

whodidntante wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 9:55 am First, it likely makes sense to fix this car, unless selling it as a mechanic's special is more profitable. The question of replacing it is the main decision.

A 2012 was likely built in 2011, so it's closer to an 11-year-old car than a 9-year-old car. With high mileage. Sorry, but it's high. The people who think that a Toyota is automatically good for 300-500k with just gas and oil changes are just wrong. That happens but those cars are the outliers. You're far more likely to fall in the meat of the bell curve. Now the oil lubricated parts of the engine stand a decent chance of going that far, but the car will basically fall apart around those parts until you get tired of repairing it and it becomes a hooptie.
Disagree. You haven’t driven many Toyotas it sounds like. They will easily last 20 years, 250,000 miles. Toyota’s engineering reputation is legendary for a reason.

Yes, you have to follow the maintenance schedule. But there’s no falling apart at the seams. I think you’ve been driving too many poorly engineered cars.
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climber2020
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by climber2020 »

finite_difference wrote: Fri Apr 08, 2022 12:38 am Yes, you have to follow the maintenance schedule. But there’s no falling apart at the seams. I think you’ve been driving too many poorly engineered cars.
One complaint I have with Toyota is that the owner's manual says nothing about when to actually change the transmission fluid. For someone who knows relatively little about cars, it's not obvious that this is something that should be done at regular intervals.

The manual recommends a transmission fluid inspection every 30,000 miles, which I did on schedule, but my transmission fluid was fine until all of a sudden it wasn't. I really think they should advise a change at specified mileage milestones like they do with oil changes.
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Re: Car repair costs (torque converter) for 9 year old car

Post by whodidntante »

finite_difference wrote: Fri Apr 08, 2022 12:38 am
whodidntante wrote: Sat Mar 19, 2022 9:55 am First, it likely makes sense to fix this car, unless selling it as a mechanic's special is more profitable. The question of replacing it is the main decision.

A 2012 was likely built in 2011, so it's closer to an 11-year-old car than a 9-year-old car. With high mileage. Sorry, but it's high. The people who think that a Toyota is automatically good for 300-500k with just gas and oil changes are just wrong. That happens but those cars are the outliers. You're far more likely to fall in the meat of the bell curve. Now the oil lubricated parts of the engine stand a decent chance of going that far, but the car will basically fall apart around those parts until you get tired of repairing it and it becomes a hooptie.
Disagree. You haven’t driven many Toyotas it sounds like. They will easily last 20 years, 250,000 miles. Toyota’s engineering reputation is legendary for a reason.

Yes, you have to follow the maintenance schedule. But there’s no falling apart at the seams. I think you’ve been driving too many poorly engineered cars.
LOL
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