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1999 Honda Accord broken timing belt

1999 Honda Accord EX, 224K miles, 4 cylinder. Timing belt broke yesterday and ruined some exhaust valves. Also needs new radiator. Should I spend quoted approx $3500 for fixed cylinder head and valves, 30K mile check (plugs, valve adj etc), new radiator, might also include piston rings, not sure? Completely trust the mechanic. Can barely come up with the $3500, can’t qualify for a loan for a new/used car, but maybe could find an older Civic or other car with less miles for the same money. Other recent work already done is one new front wheel bearing and axle, new bearing boots on both sides, oxygen sensor, new clutch a year ago. Interior/exterior are in good shape. How many more miles am I likely to get on this engine if I have the work done? Will I likely need ball joints replaced soon? Anything else I should be considering?

How many miles did this timing belt last? I wouldn’t put that much money into a vehicle with 224,000 miles already on it. I’d look on Craigslist for a cheap car.

A new cylinder head and valves wouldn’t include any new pistons or rings. Maybe get a salvage yard head and valves.

Thank you for your reply.

I need to check my records at home. I think it lasted the amount of time that they are generally supposed to last.

I think the new rings were separate from the cylinder head, and the cost did not include anything about new pistons.

Do you know how many miles that type of engine would generally last after this work was done?

Get some other quotes. This job should not cost $3500, and the valves will already need to be adjusted when the head is redone anyway, so there should be no additional labor for that. For $3k (assuming $500 for the radiator, which is assuming a lot), you can probably get a lower mileage used engine from a salvage yard and dress it with new timing belt/tensioner/water pump and have it installed. Unless you are talking about a brand new head from Honda, the price seems a grand or more higher than it should be.

Unfortunately, you are caught between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”.

On the one hand, putting this amount of money into a car with such a low book value/very high odometer mileage is not usually considered to be a good use of your money.

On the other hand, buying another used car could put you in a worse situation when/if that car suffers catastrophic failure.

Your car is somewhat of a known quantity, although any component can fail at any time after 12 years/224k miles.
A “new” used car has the potential to be a minefield of unknown (expensive) problems.
As a result, I don’t want to be the one to influence you in either direction.

As to how long this engine will last after this repair work is done, I have to say that this engine’s best days are long gone. After 224k miles, I would not expect the cylinder bores to be capable of sustaining decent performance for more than…maybe 30k miles at the most. However, a lot has to do with how often the oil was changed over the life of the engine, whether it was ever overheated, whether previous owners abused the engine, etc. That 30k figure is an ideal, and the engine may not live up to this ideal.

Do you have any relatives who can help you out financially with this problem?

Don’t bother. Move on unless you can find a used engine installed for half that quote.

There is no way I could see sinking 3500 dollars in this repair based on the vehicle mileage and the repair itself.
The best option would be to find a good used cylinder head and swap it out. This should cost far less than the amount quoted.

Replacing piston rings along with the head gets into pretty iffy territory. At that mileage odds are the cylinder bores are egged and tapered. You would essentially be putting round piston rings into no so round holes. This means it’s a short term fix and that doesn’t take into account the crankshaft bearings which should also be replaced as a ring replacement would involved disturbing those. With crank bearings you get into a similar situation as the rings with new bearings installed onto egged or tapered journals.

Thanks to everyone for all of the advice. I really appreciate it. I don’t know how to go about getting salvage or used parts, and don’t know anyone to help me with that.

I think I might list it for sale as is and hopefully find someone who wants to fix it for themselves or resell it, if such a person exists.

Call around for a mechanic that can help you out with installing a used or rebuilt engine.

You’d probably be lucky to get $500 if you sell it.