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Replace engine or replace car?

  • Replace car

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  • Replace engine

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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I posted earlier about our car problems and it turns out that the lower engine is failing and needs replaced. Now we have a dilemma on whether or not replacing is the best idea. I've gotten opinions from both sides and can't seem to make a decision.
We own an 04 Honda Element with 220,000 miles. It's been a great car. We have no debt on it and have had it for about ten years. This spring we started having some issues. The mechanic has let us know that they found metal shavings in the oil and that the lower engine is failing. They said the engine needs replacing and was estimated to cost about $3500 dollars (we're currently waiting on other quotes for the replacement). I'm nervous about spending the money, but I love the car and it hasn't given us any trouble up until now. We just replaced the shocks and struts (among other maintenance things) and with a new engine feel that it will continue to be a reliable car.

We have 10,000 in our emergency fund and can use that to fund the repair. We both feel like while we could spend an extra 2,000 dollars (around 6,000 total) to replace the car entirely with one that is two years newer with 120,000 miles on it... it's better to deal with the beast we know than one we don't and just hope we can get another ten years out of ours with a newer engine.

Is this a terrible way to think about this? What do you guys think?
Update on my update post.

So this whole potential engine replacement had me googling like crazy and the news of metal shavings in the oil had me convinced that getting a new engine was inevitable. That was until I remembered that we had our oil changed the day before our starting issue started. I thought about how we had had our oil changed at it's regular interval (no mention of metal shavings) and again when we were having the sludgy oil problem (no metal shavings). Since the last oil change the car had only been driven about five miles. That made me suspicious. How would there be noticable metal shavings in brand new oil if none were noticed in older oil. Hmm. I told my husband my concerns and we decided to just go pick up the car and to bring it home. When we got there he went in to get the keys and what do you know. They offer to do an engine flush (for 400.00 馃槼). Of course they said it would be risky, but it was worth a shot. Why didn't they offer this earlier??? I called the mechanic who changed the oil last and asked if he noticed any metal and he said he didn't see anything. I asked how much an engine flush at his shop would be and he said about a hundred dollars. I drove the car there and didn't have one problem along the way. He's going to flush the engine and check the computer. I mentioned that I had read about after market solenoids potentially not jiving with the Element and he agreed that that could be the issue.

I'm really disappointed in the other shop, but damn. I'm proud of myself. I can't believe I almost paid to replace the engine in my car.
 

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I think you may have answered your own question. You don鈥檛 have any car payments. You know the car inside out. I鈥檇 say you can get a good engine and get it replaced I鈥檇 say replace the engine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think you may have answered your own question. You don鈥檛 have any car payments. You know the car inside out. I鈥檇 say you can get a good engine and get it replaced I鈥檇 say replace the engine.
Ok! Do you know the best places to find a good engine? Someone on another forum mentioned trying to get a warranty that lasts several years. I haven't found anyone that will give one for more than a hundred or so days.
 

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Only place I really know is eBay. I鈥檓 sure there鈥檚 plenty of other places that other members can mention.
As for warranties I鈥檝e never seen a used engine with a warranty for a few years. Max I鈥檝e seen is 90 days or something like 3,000 miles. Which ever comes first. I鈥檓 not sure that even happens. I could be wrong though.
If anyone can chime n on that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Only place I really know is eBay. I鈥檓 sure there鈥檚 plenty of other places that other members can mention.
As for warranties I鈥檝e never seen a used engine with a warranty for a few years. Max I鈥檝e seen is 90 days or something like 3,000 miles. Which ever comes first. I鈥檓 not sure that even happens. I could be wrong though.
If anyone can chime n on that.
That's what I figured. Maybe cars that are still manufacturered get longer warranties
 

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Used parts yards like LKQ can pull engines and provide a short warranty. you can get a good deal but you have to search and get lucky; as you know Element owners don鈥檛 part unless they have to so usually it鈥檚 because a car is totaled. You might get lucky and find one with rear or side damage leaving a good engine.
 

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Ask your mechanic who is going to do the engine to search for a quality used engine. I.e., one with preferably a known maintenance and driving history. Might be hard and it could take a few months. A backup plan may be to consider a JDM importer. You鈥檇 have to do some research on the importer, to make sure they鈥檙e a legit company with legit business practices. Good news is that the Honda 2.4 has been in a lot of different cars including the crv and accord. If you were in California, I would suggest these guys:


be careful google searching their name though, as there are a few other companies that do the same thing, with a very similar sounding name, but it is not them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Used parts yards like LKQ can pull engines and provide a short warranty. you can get a good deal but you have to search and get lucky; as you know Element owners don鈥檛 part unless they have to so usually it鈥檚 because a car is totaled. You might get lucky and find one with rear or side damage leaving a good engine.
The shop I'm working with said they have a very reliable salvage yard that they work with and no engine they've ever swapped out has had any problems. The engine will come with a warranty.
 

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My daughter had problems with the original engine in her Element at 130,000. We purchased a used engine with a three year, unlimited mile warranty, which cost $1350 (I think $950 without the warranty). Installation cost was probably that much as well. The conditions of the warranty required replacing a lot of seals and such. Unfortunately, my daughter didn't keep very good record of oil changes after installing it, so by the time she hit 205,000 three years later (warranty expired), that engine was using a quart of oil almost every tank of gas. Do the best you can to get an engine with a known history. Your other option is to have your engine rebuilt, then you're starting fresh. I did a partial rebuild of my daughter's (new rings, rod bearings, valve seals) and got the oil consumption to less than a quart in 5000 miles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My daughter had problems with the original engine in her Element at 130,000. We purchased a used engine with a three year, unlimited mile warranty, which cost $1350 (I think $950 without the warranty). Installation cost was probably that much as well. The conditions of the warranty required replacing a lot of seals and such. Unfortunately, my daughter didn't keep very good record of oil changes after installing it, so by the time she hit 205,000 three years later (warranty expired), that engine was using a quart of oil almost every tank of gas. Do the best you can to get an engine with a known history. Your other option is to have your engine rebuilt, then you're starting fresh. I did a partial rebuild of my daughter's (new rings, rod bearings, valve seals) and got the oil consumption to less than a quart in 5000 miles.
Everyplace that I've gotten estimates from gets their engines from salvage yards. I'm not sure how they would have the history of the engine available.
 

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I just replaced my original engine with 375,000 miles on it with a used JDM for 2500$ out the door including new starter and front axel. Engine replacement calls for about ten hours of labor plus parts and fluids gaskets and such.
 

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Metal shaving just don't appear in the oil, is there any noises (grinding or knocks)? I wouldn't pay them to flush the oil, just bring the car to another shop and ask them to look at the oil when they change it. It just might end up being clean with no metal.

These engines are good for more than 220k miles with just water pump and serp belt changes.
 

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I replaced the engine on my 2009 Element, with a 2011, 59,000 mileage , Engine. There was an oil loss after a cross country trip. I was told that if the engine had been sitting the seals and other components could be bad. Now after a year, it is happening again. There is oil in the tailpipe. I paid for the engine history to be sure it was actually 59,000 miles. Runs beautifully. There are a number of opinions, but I still think fixing this engine is better than replacing it ? The Element is in very good condition, just some minor age related issues.
 
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