Yeah, brown fluid means that s.o.b. got REAL hot. One or every clutch pack is slipping, which generates huge amounts of heat. Heat will kill a tranny in short order, which you've discovered.
If it were me, I wouldn't spend $3,500 on a CAR
, let alone a transmission repair.
I bought my one new vehicle, & I'll never do it again. The insurance & taxes alone just make buying new a hobby for the rich ... at least in MA.
There's 100 billion used cars out there all over the country. My personal preference is to buy out of the salt belt, so I get something rust free & easy to work on. I also prefer anything built before '96 so when the FI takes a dump, I can slap a carb on it & still get where I need to go. I don't expect you to go that route -- they broke the mold when I was built ....
If your looking to save a buck, used is the only way. Acuras, Lincolns, Saabs, Volvos, Lexus, & Cadillacs are notoriously expensive -- so I'd steer clear of any one of those for a used vehicle. From there, there's still a million more to choose from.
My wife still drives 80 miles per day in a '86 Grand Marquis that we bought back in '03 with 68,000 miles. It now has 176,000. I've had to do the usual MA repairs over the last 7.75 years: shocks, ball joints, tie-rod ends, rotors, brakes, & electrical gremlins. I just drove it 70 miles today because I forgot my damn wallet at home after going to Advance Auto for my neighbor!
I have folders full of receipts for every vehicle I own. You can judge the quality of the vehicle by the thickness of my folders. The Jimmy I only had 2 years and it's an inch-and-a-half thick! The Marquis folder, after nearly 8 years ( will be 8 next month ), is about a half-inch thick. Goes to show ...
Throwing parts at a vehicle is ALWAYS cheaper than buying new. That's a fact!
I do everything myself, so it helps to be your own mechanic. Even paying someone else, I believe it is still cheaper. I can't even tell you how many thousands of dollars I've pissed away on my '07. It's a beautiful truck, but it ain't worth it!