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1995 Volvo 960, Interference engine, timing belt broken

I have a 1995 Volvo 960 with a straight line 6 interference engine. The timing belt broke while I was idiling at a stop sign waiting to make a turn. The mechanic I use informs me that the entire engine must be replaced to a tune of $3500. My research suggests that only the head needs to be replaced. Is a second opinion advised, and does it need to be a Volvo mechanic. The current mechanic works on imports.

Since you were idling I’d expect the piston dings to be minor, so unless there are other issues like burning oil it should be repairable with a new head. But, based on the price and assuming that’s installed, he’s probably talking about just putting in a used engine, and if that’s the case it may be your best bet. Am I correct in my assumption?

The entire engine does not need to be replaced; the head and valves will defintiely need to be done and you may have piston damage as well.

What was the mileage when this happened?

The $3500 is a reasonable price for this, if the work is done by a competent mechanic. A Volvo dealership might charge more; 10 years ago my neighbor paid that much to have the same work done on her Volkswagen Passsat which broke its belt before the replacement interval was up.

You could get a second opinion but you have internal damage other than the head. When the belt broke the pistons contacted the valves. The only way to know for sure is to have the engine torn down. I think your mechanic is probably right. You don’t need a Volvo mechanic specifically.

You are correct. To confirm, are you saying that repairing the head and replacing the engine with a used engine, are similar in price?

We just bought the car and it has 190000 miles on the engine. It was very well maintained so this is a surprise. I am reviewing the maintenance records to determine when the timing belt was last replaced.

That wasn;t what I meant to convey, but it is nonetheless true.

It sounds like he’s being fair and honest with you and I’d go with the used engine swap, assuming of course that the rest of the vehicle is in good enough shape to justify it.

Occasionally the valves do not get damaged in interference engines. My brother’s VW Passat had its timing belt snap while idling in traffic. The timing belt was replaced by VW under warranty and no issues were found. He drove it till 220k miles without any issues related to timing belt or it snapping earlier. Just a slew of other problems not engine related.

Maybe the best bet would be a happy medium: Get just a good cylinder head from the junkyard and replace that.

check out the volvo forums. they go into it in depth. here is a link: