Things might not be so bad as it seemed.
While she was at work 2 days ago, my wife talked (via email) with one of the instructors in the university’s Automotive Technology program, and found out that there is a transmission repair specialist who is able to address this problem, using a part from a salvage yard (because Mitsubishi no longer makes this model of car). The estimate for getting the repair done is “between $600 and $700”. Not bad.
The catch is – the car isn’t in any condition to drive very far, and the specialist is over in Joplin. We could get AAA to tow the car over there, but most mechanics want you to sign some paperwork authorizing the repair before they will do it. I could ride over to Joplin in the tow truck, but then I still have to be able to get home. Oh, and then going back to Joplin to get the car when the repair is complete, because it is unlikely to be a same-day completion. Yes, if we go this route, there will be a need for lots of coordination.
Still, not having to spend $5,000 right now is a help, and I think we have the room on the credit card to cover getting a rental car for the extra trips to Joplin. We’re going to look at this pretty seriously.