Originally Posted by ford99
Thanks for your feedback!
Update is I drained it again this weekend and the problem's resolved again, but there were some brass chips in the pan and metallic slurry sticking around the magnet. It does indeed look like the beginning of the end- a downer but that's the way it goes sometimes. The guy at the transmission shop speaking about the hardened seals was just saying what he thought it was based on his experience, comes down to the same thing of him wanting to put in a rebuilt trans anyway. If I can put $1750-2000 into a job that lasts at least 50k I won't feel to bad- it's just a matter of whether I can find that. When I looked at it a full factory rebuilt trans was $2000+ before even talking about labor.
If you want to put out that kind of money, phone around a local junk yard. Check on Car-Part.com--Used Auto Parts Market
or RockAuto Auto Parts
for a salvaged trans in your area. The downsides of course to buying used are little to no warranty, and, finding a trans shop that will install it.
If you luck out you might find a low mileage unit for your year, or close, and at least you have some time to shop around before your current trans takes a dump. Crap in the pan is bad! Also, if you decide to go used and save $1K or so, be sure to tell the shop that does the work (not necessary trans specific as it'll be a swap, not a rebuild!) that you want the old trans put in the trunk (be sure to line it will with plastic/thick old carpet scraps) and you might get $100-150 for the transmission core that you can put toward the price of the other trans.
I can't see labour taking more than 3-4 hours for a direct swap. I'd try to stay within the same year as it'll be less problematic in terms of electronics, etc.
I believe going used would be a good choice. A used low mileage trans can last 100K and then some where as a rebuild can last just as long, or maybe 25K? Never know. Why spend more than necessary when shops have tons of good parts out there for the taking at less than half price of a rebuild, which also saves several labour hours that you really don't need.