1999 Subaru Forester: replace engine or junk the car?


Car has a bit over 100K miles on it, over the past two years that we had it, it has been fairly reliable. Other than a dented fender, it is still in pretty good shape. Today, the engine died, my mechanic says it will have to be replaced, which will cost about $2300 (used engine + labor). Is this worth doing, or is it time to shop for another used Forester?


Just curious. Why did the engine die? Lack of oil, overheating, etc.?
What were the symptoms before it died?
Timing belt give up?

Just wondering because I’ve seen a number of “engine failures” over the years that were caused by nothing more than a seized idler pulley, plugged up fuel line, etc.; and in one case - a 20 cent fuse.
The latter involved a gentleman who bad been in the shop 3 times in a month to the tune of over a grand of engine work, finally followed by his “engine demise”; and by shop I mean somewhere else.

If you legitimately need a new engine I don’t have a problem with a used engine.
However, it needs to be clear that one HOPES the used engine is good.
The salvage yard “guarantees” it, but if by chance the engine turns out to have a problem they will only refund the money on the engine itself or replace it. Labor and additional parts are not refundable.

You should also consider that a used engine should get a new water pump, timing belt, and tensioners before installation. Just another cost that should be figured in, if not already.
The preferred option is that one can listen to an engine run before purchase, but this is not always possible.
Hope some of that helps.


Get a remanufactured engine. A used one is one month away from the one you already own.


If the timing belt slipped, it could have bent some valves…hopefully, no piston damage. If the timing belt slipped, the cylinder head(s) could be removed, the valves replaced, a “valve job” performed, new timing belt, etc., and put the vehicle back into service for less $.


I would get a rebuilt engine instead of a used one. A used engine is an unknown. It could last a long time, or it could fail tomorrow. Why gamble? A rebuilt engine will come with some sort of guarantee.


If you would like to keep the vehicle for about another 5 years I suggest you get a rebuilt engine from CCR. You will have basically a new engine with a 3 year warranty in the car. You may want to change out the radiator also if it isn’t in too good of shape and you decide to do this. CCR is well known for their quality and customer service on Subaru engines. Here is a link to them.