First of all, thank you for all the replies, whether related or irrelevant to the transmission. The sense of humour of some members has certainly given me some distractions. Confession here to my boss, although I am 100% certain she is not an audience of this forum, I have not made much progress this week (yes, but you see me online).
While I am still waiting for a detail breakdown for this astronomical task, can I ask if this is the moment to let go the car? Has it passed the point when things start to fail and break one after another? Personally, I do not mind to bite the bullet this time but what if the engine breaks in the coming months or years? Now, I would like to talk about the dealer. Perhaps they are trained to sweet talk their customers, but if they wanted my business so bad, they did not have to tell me a used transmission unit would be used (if I understand them correctly). They said it would come with one-year warranty for both parts and labour, but I would say the odd for this donor unit to fail after the 12-month mark is high. Then I will be drowned in a vicious cycle of replacing transmission?
If I choose to sell this car, if it can be sold at all, that will put me in a very difficult situation. I will need to fly back to Houston and drive the other car across multiple states to where I live... Don't forget the front strut broke in 2020 when the car was 5 years old with 26k miles.... It would be a miracle if I could still be in one piece after such a long distance drive. That thing is more like an art piece (love the front grill) than a car and here is the dilemma, if I sell that too, that will leave me on foot...
I am aware that Lexus is a fancy version of Toyota, this is why I am always puzzled by the fact that the reputation of reliability does not apply to Lexus. The dealer asked $200 for diagnosis, which I agreed.
You reminded me of the transmission fix that I almost forgot. At the120k mile service, I was skeptical for such job since a sealed transmission should translate to 'lifetime fluid' in theory. Although it is unclear what the dealer did to the transmission, nothing went wrong after the job. The term 'service transmission minor' is very ambiguous. The car care nut guy did make a point that you cannot refute, that is, 'Is Toyota going to fix your transmission when it breaks?'.
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Later, when my car was at the same shop for maintenance again, I was told there was a transmission fluid leak. The repair was a little pricey but I thought it could be a good investment to prevent disastrous transmission failure. Again, the car shifted perfectly until a few months ago. Here are the details.
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Thank you for recommending the Lexus forum. I have tried a brief search and it seems most members there are gearheads!
This sounds like a procedure to check engine oil level, which I think I learnt that from you and another member a year ago. Briefly, this is what happened before posting on UP.net - Out of frustration, I stopped at a gas station, opened my trunk and checked the maintenance record, and bought the exact same oil. Then I poured all its content into the engine until the low engine oil warning came off.
I never know there is a dipstick for transmission fluid. If you read my reply to another member, I believe the dealer has refilled the fluid after sealing the transmission pan. It goes without saying that this is under the assumption that they have done the job right.
This is what the dealer said too at the time of fixing the transmission leak. The way they boasted the expertise and skills required to fill with the correct amount of fluid at the correct temperature, and emphasized overfilling can equally be catastrophic has certainly provided the highest level of assurance as possible. May be I was too naive?