Question for those auto savvy TT'ers
We have a 2002 Saturn Sedan SL-2 with approx 120,000 miles on it. We have been the only owners of this vehicle. The car is in very good shape and has been running well until a week ago. Daughter was driving on the turnpike when smoke came up from the hood, the car started shaking up and down like she hit something and she said it was making a noise from under the hood.
Shei mmediately pulled over and called. I met her there and had the car towed to the shop.
They tell me that the engine was blown (they found a hole in the block) - if we get it replaced it will cost &2,700. It will be a refurbished block and will have a 15,000 mile/15 month warranty (whichever comes first)
According to Edmunds, the dealer retail for this vehicle in good condition is also about $2700.
She drives this car back and forth to Hillsdale, Michigan 2-3 times a month for work (she doesn't drive much at all in between, as she lives where she works and doesn't need to leave the complex during the the week unless she goes to the store.)
My questions to you experts are:
1) Is it worth the repair? I look at the price of nice used cars and it doesn't look like there is much out there that is anywhere near the price range given the condition of the rest of the car. It might be sideways thinking, but it seems like I may be better off putting $2700 into this car rather than buying a more expensive used one.
2) Are refurbished engines dependable (this is from a reputable repair shop - Tireman - they have done excellent work for us and the prices have always been fair)
3) Given her drive (Hillsdale and back 2-3 times a month, mostly turnpike) does it sound like a refurbished engine would be a cause for safety concerns?
I am looking forward to hearing from those out there who are more mechanically savvy than me!
Thanks in advance!!!
If done by a good rebuilder, the engine can last as long as a new one. Worth it is up to you. Also consider, the engine is just one major component. Transmission, suspension, brakes, air condiioning may fail without much warning. A big problem with older vehicles is the money you put into one may never be realized in full if sold soon after the repair. A $2700.00 engine in a $2700.00 vehicle only makes it worth $2700.00. Tough decision.
First, I am by no means an expert. That said, here's my opinion:
1. Personally I'd go with a different used car, probably spending more money. The $2,700 range is going to be a crap-shoot in terms of reliability when buying a used car. Also, both my dad and I had late 90's Saturns and after they hit 100k miles all hell started to break loose. I got rid of mine after putting $4k into repairs over the 4 years I owned it, my dad hung onto his and his repairs went over $5k before we got rid of it (mind you he paid just over $5k for it used). Some Saturns may be more reliable but we had bad experiences.
2. If you decide to keep it and go with the repair, definitely get a second opinion. I use Tireman for my oil changes and I've found them to be honest but I would never consider taking my car there for major repairs. Their mechanics do a majority of minor repairs and things like oil changes and tire rotations. I own a Honda now and just reached the recommended mileage to replace the timing belt/water pump - Tireman quoted me $925. I called Japanese Auto (who are awesome, btw) and they quoted me $625 for the same job.
3. A refurbished engine should be just as reliable as your previous high mileage engine - hopefully more reliable since you blew a hole in the block.
Not sure if any of that helps but there's my $0.02!
Just curious - was the blown engine a result of lack of oil? Both mine and my dad's vehicles burned through oil like it was gas.
1. Hard to judge, since "refurbished" can mean many things. If this is a used engine with just a cleanup and tuneup, that is way too much money. If this engine has a remanufactured short block, this is still a bit high, but at least you are getting something that might last 100K miles. You will want to know if you are getting a new head gasket, new piston rings, new or reconditioned valves, and so on.
2. I will add upfront that I am not a fan of Tireman, and I would not trust them with major engine work. If you have had good experiences with a particular shop, so be it, but I prefer to use someone who does this on a regular basis. Earl Brothers on Secor Road has replaced a few blown engines on cars my kids have owned, and we got used engines installed in the $1500-$1800 range. These engines came with guarantees, though I cannot remember the specifics. One car is still going after 16 months, while the other one my kid sold.
3. No matter what route you choose in repairs, if the mechanic attests that the car is roadworthy, your daughter should be fine to go on trips to Hillsdale. The keys to success are the same: check your oil regularly, check your coolant regularly, and do not ignore odd noises or fluid leaks.
In my opinion, the best use of $2,700 is to have them replace the engine. You know the maintenance history of the car, and if its in good shape, why not keep it. Looking at the price of used cars these days, I don't think you can get a decent car for anywhere near that price, unless you buy from an individual, and then you don't know the TRUE maintenance history.
Call them and ask WHO they get the refurbished engine from and see if they are reputable. Might want to ask them specifically what "REFURBISHED" means. Refurbished these days is actually hard to prove (have to believe in the honor system), and its true meaning from 1 engine builder to another is quite vast, and that is IF they (people selling the refurbished engine) actually do anything other than pull it out of a junk yard and clean the exterior. You can ask all the right questions, and they will give you the answers you want to hear.
I think their warranty is "STANDARD" for a refurbished item, but personally wish the refurbishing industry would have longer warranties based on how good they refurbished the item. Meaning if they when through it all and replaced all the high wear items, why only warranty it for 15,000 miles? One can take the engine apart and replace parts and throw it back together to make it "RUN", or they can put it back together according to the engine manufacturers "SPEC / TOLERANCES".
But still, when considering the cost of purchasing a USED car, I personally think you are better off going with replacing the engine.
I am not an expert, but I have done extensive work on cars.
First, do not call Steve Taylor, he has gas.
Second, I am a little surprised by a blown engine on a 2002 engine with only 120,000 miles. I've driven cars/trucks/vans with well over 200,000 miles. Sure, it could happen, but sounds weird. Did they show you the hole? Not saying they are lying, just double checking. Was it component failure or loss of oil?
Anyway, a "refurbished" or "remanufactured" engine is probably overkill for almost $3000. That kind of money will buy you a pretty decent honda or toyota that will easily go over 200,000 miles.
Did they or have they also looked into putting a used engine in it? I just checked locally and found none, but ebay has several with a 6 month warranty (pretty standard) for around $1200. Even with installation of $500 or so, you're not too bad.
I do not like tireman for the simple reason of who will be doing the work? Someone who you know that's done big jobs for you before, or joe smoe who is moving up from oil changes?
As posted above, refurbished can mean a whole bunch of stuff. From just changing the oil on a used engine to actually replacing all bearings, rings, and gaskets.
The bottom line is that if you love the car and it is in great condition otherwise do it. But only with a mechanic or shop you trust. Also, find out what would happen if engine fails before warranty. Will you have to pay all labor for another engine change?
One other thing to consider is that if your engine failed without warning (ie component failure) another engine could do the same.
Personally, I'd go with another used car. Just my opinon.
Just found a 97 saturn sc2 on craigslist for $650 with some transmission problem. Don't know if the engines swap or not.
If it's Tireman in Maumee, best to get a second opinion. My car had problems starting last winter, and I took it to Tireman, where I've taken it before for minor issues, and I was told my fuel pump was shot. Their estimate to install a new fuel pump was over $900. My car is 15 years old and it wasn't worth it. My nephew is pretty good with cars and said he could install the fuel pump for me. When he looked at the car, he said there was absolutely nothing wrong with the fuel pump, but he didn't know why the car had problems starting most of the time. So I took it to Matthews Ford, without telling them I had taken it to Tireman first. Matthews had it for a few days and couldn't find anything wrong - the car started up right away - and they surmised it was probably a loose battery cable. I've never had a problem since and it starts up fine. I did have to pay Matthews $90 for an estimate, but it was better than paying Tireman $900 for a repair that was not needed. Good luck!
I wouldn't repower a Saturn SL-2 unless I had JUST coincidentally replaced the transmission, tires, and the entire braking system. Then, and only if my daughter thought that it was the cutest car on the face of the earth. Otherwise, collect your 350 from Cherry Auto Parts and move on.
The fact that Tireman has a somewhat spotty rep is secondary.
the tireman story is embarrassing. Testing or checking a fuel pump is an easy as connecting a pressure gauge to fuel system, starting car and recording pressure. Check that against required pressure and you have your answer. Guess someone wanted to make their quota.
Hi everyone & thank you all for your advice!
We decided to junk the car and found a good late modle used Honda Civic for her.
This place is the best when you have a question about almost any topic. There are always posters who are willing to share theor knowledge and experience!
Thank you so much !!!
We decided to junk the car and found a good late modle used Honda Civic for her.
Honda Civics tend to rust out around rear wheel wells. Help prevent by opening trunk, pulling back the "carpet" along quarter panels and squirt some common motor oil all around wheel opening inside trunk.
It will seep down in between where inner and outer wheelwell metal panels meet and help keep water/moisture from starting to rust.
Not a bad idea to do inside doors or anywhere rust is likely to start.
Rustproofing covers metal, but oil seeps into pores.
Honda everythings tend to rust out in the rear wheel wells. The cars are as solid and reliable as you can get with that one exception.
Great purchase! She'll be happy with that.
"We decided to junk the car and found a good late model used Honda Civic for her."
Good decision. I had a Honda Civic in college and I loved it. Started all the time, very dependable. As it got older, it started to overheat a lot, probably due to a blown head gasket. The hatchback was also badly rusted out. I had already replaced the hatchback once, but it was one of the Civic's flaws and rust overtook it again in the rear (this was years ago, so I assume Honda corrected this problem by now).
"Guess someone wanted to make their quota."
Hockeyfan, you got that right!
I thought my battery was bad, but checked it out and it wasn't the problem. It wasn't a "loose battery cable," either. I took the alternator to Autozone to check it out and it was bad. So I replaced the alternator, but the car still had problems starting most of the time. WTF? Frustrating as hell. I had just filled my tank up with gas, and it smelled kind of skunky, so it very well might have been a case of bad gas all along. In any event, it definitely wasn't the fuel pump. Just glad the car is running smoothly now.
We like the newer - runs great - looks great!
The only drawback is that it only has one key - have to get another made - boy are those things expensive!! Honda wants $200 for one (that includes reprogramming the car) and additional keys run $80. Ouch!!!
shamrock44 - you may want to look around to see if you can get it cheaper. I was in one of the big box stores (can't remember if it was Lowes or HD) and saw a sign saying that they now carried car key fobs. Maybe a specialty place like McElheney could do it cheaper?
Thanks!! Will look today!!!