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Mazda 323 Lantis (2000) automatic transmission, shows flashing HOLD light during drive, the car feels jumpy/shaky when shifting from Park to Reverse to Drive.

When pressing the gas during complete standstill, getting up to 10-20 KM/h takes much more time and "effort" than before this issue first appeared (a couple weeks ago). Also, it seems I can't get past 3rd gear.

A mechanic working at a Mazda-licensed repair shop (not exactly a "dealership") said diagnostics showed error P0763 which points to a faulty Solenoid C. Mechanic suggested replacing the transmission for a used one (cheaper than refurbished), said that replacing the solenoid might fix the issue but also may not. The issue with a used transmission is that it too may give up in under a year, not sure what shape it's in.

Replacing the solenoid would cost me $400, replacing the transmission for a used one would cost $900 (parts and labor). Didn't ask for a quote regarding a refurbished transmission, but according to the mechanic it could be over twice the cost of a used one. At that point, it would probably be smarter (financially) to sell the car. Regarding the second opinion, most licensed repair shops take around $50-$100 just to take a look - not sure if that's normal or above average.

The transmission hadn't had any issues before this issue arose.

Should I be taking my chances with replacing just the solenoid, or go for replacing the whole transmission?

EDIT March 2, 2017: I ended up replacing the transmission for a used one about 3 weeks ago. So far it works fine, maybe not 100% like the previous transmission, but good enough. I just hope it will continue working. Unfortunately, since I didn't end up going for the switch-solenoid route, I can't really know if that would have fixed the issues I was having. Thanks for everyone's input and advice. I will update this post if the transmission ends up dying.

EDIT August 2017: Still working, knock on wood

EDIT February 2018: Unfortunately the replacement transmission is showing signs of defeat, starting to struggle regularly. Will probably hold up for a while longer, maybe even more with just these hiccups now and the. But hey, at least it held in there for a year.

  • I'd suggest you take it and get a 2nd opinion. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jan 29 '17 at 14:40
  • You may want to check if the transmission fluid level is above max, which would indicate that the transmission is terminal. Related: mechanics.stackexchange.com/q/19253/675 – Zaid Jan 29 '17 at 19:28
  • Thanks for pointing that out Zaid. Just checked and it looks like the transmission fluid level is fine. Anyhow, I think I will go ahead and have the transmission replaced with the used one, since the solenoid may not fix the issue, and the price difference isn't worth the risk. If the transmission was indeed terminal, it would only further convince me that it needs replacing. I will ask to keep the old transmission just in case the new-used one fails. I will post an update as soon as there is one. Thank you juhist and Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2♦. – Charles Jan 31 '17 at 12:52
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Was the mechanic working at the dealership or was he an independent mechanic? How much does replacing the solenoid cost? What about a used transmission, or a refurbished transmission? Did the transmission work perfectly until the problem occurred? You need more information than what you provided in the question. However, as Paulster2 correctly noted, a second opinion is a good idea. Especially if the mechanic wasn't working at the dealership!

If the transmission has had no other problems than the solenoid issue, I would based on the information that I have recommend you to first replace the solenoid. Yes, the issue may be something entirely different, but changing the entire transmission to a used one with unknown history seems too risky to me. If the solenoid swap doesn't fix the issue and you lost the tiny amount you invested in the solenoid swap, I would consider a refurbished transmission instead of a used one. Less chance to lose all of the invested money again.

  • I'll update my original question to reflect the questions you raised, but it's important to note that where I live, these repairs cost far more than they probably should (I'm assuming, since you referred to the solenoid swap as a "tiny" amount). – Charles Jan 29 '17 at 17:17
  • Ouch, $400 for a solenoid. I was thinking half that amount. I do understand why the mechanic proposed a used transmission. However, do note that there's no guarantee it works well, like there's no guarantee for the solenoid working well. – juhist Jan 29 '17 at 18:17
  • Exactly. That's exactly my dilemma at the moment. Any way to be more certain of one or the other? – Charles Jan 29 '17 at 18:19

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