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1996 Ford Explorer needs new engine - should I do it? Advice please!

I have a 1996 Ford Explorer with 200k miles on it. My mechanic says it needs a new engine and the price for a remanufactured GTP style is $5700. The new engine will come with a 3 year 100k warrantee. The truck is paid off, it’s in otherwise really good condition, I like how it handles and it’s comfortable for me. I was leaning towards doing the engine replacement but I’ve had several friends jump in and tell me that I should buy something new or a later model used car. But for what I can afford, it would have to be a smaller car (maybe around $10k for something like a 2012 Nissan Sentra?) and I’d then have a car payment and higher insurance and registration fees. Does anyone have any advice? The mechanic says the engine will give me the benefits of a ‘new’ truck without a payment and I’ll probably get another 200k miles out of it even after the warrantee expires. I’m not about the looks or the image - just want to make the best decision possible here. Any advice or insights would be appreciated!!

First of all, why does your mechanic say you need a new engine? You don’t need a new engine until the old one is worn/broken beyond repair, and some engine problems can be fixed for a lot less than $6k.

Your mechanic may be jumping the gun here.

Sorry - I should have shared that information. The existing engine has stopped running. 2 days ago a heavy thumping sound started and it started stalling out. The mechanic is someone I trust and he said he was amazed I was able to drive it into the shop - it’s dead.

Does your vehicle have an automatic transmission?
If so, how often have you changed the trans fluid & filter?
If the answer is…I don’t know…or…never…then the trans will be the next big thing to fail–at a cost of ~$2k, or maybe more.

If you add the price of a new engine to the price of an overhauled transmission, you will come up with a figure higher than what it would cost you to buy a newer car with less expensive problems.

I have been pretty religious about taking care of maintenance on the truck. Regular fluid and filter changing. I hear what you’re saying though. The transmission is the other big ticket item that could go out.

What city? Any rust issues? 96 exp is worth $2k, running. Why not look for newest, nicest suv for $6k and see what you find. I say junk the ford.

I’d take the $6k and put it towards a new vehicle.

And for $10k you will NOT have to settle for a Sentra. You can get plenty of good-sized used vehicles for that money. Around here I can find a nice 2006 Explorer with under 100k mile for that money:

I’m in Southern California. No rust. Few dings and dents. I’ve found some larger cars for $10k but they seem to all have a lot of miles if they’re at that price. It’s been a long time since I’ve shopped for a car and I’m shocked at the prices.

You need to do some more looking. Here’s a mint 2003 Explorer near you with only 77k miles for $9000:

Or, for the cost of your new engine, you could buy this 2005 Nissan Xterra with 120k miles:

Thanks for the help. I just felt so stuck - not sure what was the smart thing to do.

Also to answer an earlier question - it’s an automatic transmission.

Bite the bullet and spend the $10k on a 2004-2006 vehicle with as low miles as you can find. Also be sure to have it inspected by a mechanic before you buy.

Some people find it difficult to adapt to change, and perhaps this is part of what is causing the OP to want to cling to an 18 year old vehicle with repair costs that far exceed its book value.

On any kind of a rational basis, it would be difficult to defend the desire to spend almost $6k on an old, non-classic vehicle that has essentially gotten to the end of its design life.

I think you’ve hit it on the head! It’s not rational at all - and when you put it like that it makes things a lot clearer.

Sometimes, having a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology does help…


Look outside your area. You can ship a new car or drive it back home. California is an expensive place to buy a car. Try AZ or NM. The internet is a wonderful thing.

VDC - Can we talk about my feelings about my mother now? You’ve been so helpful with the car issues.

@VDCdriver‌, you may be the ideal host for a new radio talk show about cars. :wink:

I don’t get it.

If everything is in good condition, what is another 4k for a car that has been reliable so far? Sure, the trans may go out…or it may not.

You might buy a 10k car and have the trans go out next month.

It was another $6k, not $4k, for a 20 year old vehicle with 200k miles.