This is a bit of a perennial question when it comes to older second-hand cars that suddenly need expensive repairs. On current values, your Escape is probably worth almost exactly the same as the new transmission will cost you. The problem is that even if you do have the new transmission fitted, you won’t have doubled the value of the car. In fact, you’ll have done nothing for its resale value compared with any other working Escape. And right now, your Escape with a broken transmission is worth – roughly - $300 which is what a scrap merchant will pay for it to be crushed and turned into microwave ovens.
However, balancing all that is the question of, if you do scrap the car, how much will you need to spend to get into something that will be reliable and safe? And the answer to that is probably more than $5000. At this point, you also need to assess the condition of the rest of your car. At 170,000km on the clock, it could well be ready for maintenance in other expensive areas.
But assuming the rest of your car is in good condition and still works properly, here’s another option: Rather than a brand-new transmission, why not track down a good, second-hand unit from a vehicle recycler. Specialist recyclers have a range of components like these, and you should be able to find one that’s been tested and perhaps even carries a short warranty. It will still cost money to buy the transmission and have it fitted, but it shouldn’t be anything like $5000 and if it keeps your car on the road for another few years, then it’s recycling at its best. The greenest car is the one that’s already been built.