2004 Honda odyssey with blown engine

I am looking to purchase a van or SUV and my budget is only around $6500. Hubby found a great “deal” on craigslist and i want some opinions/advice from you…please help! He found a 2004 Honda odyssey Exl for $3400, it has leather seats, new tires, new struts, Rear climate control, 3rd seat fold in to floor seats…basically all the bells and whistles that are a bit out of my normal price range. The only trouble is that is has a blown motor. I have a wonderful Honda mechanic for our other car that I trust would do a great job replacing it, (haven’t called for a quote yet), but I wanted some more opinions on if this is a great deal? For example, when there is a blown motor, are there usually other things that are wrong with the car? Is a refurbished motor a safe way to go, or should we get a new engine (not sure if it’s even an option on our budget)? Is there any specific questions that I should ask the seller? Thanks for any help or advice! We’ve been a 2-door, 1 car family for 23 months now, and we’ve finally saved enough for a second vehicle and I don’t want to make any bad decisions…I want a larger vehicle so badly (so tough to get the kids in and out of car seats in the 2door, but I don’t want to rush into the wrong decision)

One issue is that you can’t test-drive the car in its current condition. I’d be pretty nervous about that. You also can’t get it to a mechanic easily for a pre-purchase inspection, which is bad.

Also, do you know why the engine blew? If it was due to neglect, then you’d have to wonder if the transmission has also been neglected. Is the seller making available his maintenance records?

The transmission on those vintage vans are known to be an issue. How many miles does I have?? A used motor for that van is going to cost Alot of money as well. This is not a small block chevy where replacements are cheap, this is a $$$ motor. Be careful… On the flip side a co worker purchased a nice used chevy venture van about a year ago with 170k from the original owners for $2500, its not known as the best van in the world but he had every service record for it and it had not given him even a hint of a problem since he got it. Those are the deals you should look for

This is not a good idea unless you are very familiar with this vehicle, have driven it recently before the engine let go for whatever reason, know the complete maintenance history, and know there is nothing else wrong with it. The seller is also asking an awful lot for an inoperable vehicle. If the price were more realistic, like maybe a grand, it may be worth considering.

Thank you so much for your comments, those are some really good points that I didn’t even think about! I think my problem is I’m getting impatient for a second car (new baby on the way) and I really want a Honda, bc we’ve had such good luck with our accord, but my price range is more in the Town and Country range and I haven’t seen the best ratings on them…
Thanks again for you help :slight_smile:

FOR ME? OR US on this site…sure I’d have her purring like a kitten in no time…Either by fixing the “Blown” engine…or dropping in a used one. ALL depends on what we are talking about with the BLOWN part…could just be cyl head damage from a snapped T-belt…could be oil failure and total meltdown… SO figure that out first. Next look at used engines on Ebay…the guys on there are mostly honest…they have to be to sell on Ebay…My Ebay score is over 250…and it only gets there from being honest…believe me…you cant shaft people on Ebay and get away with it…so don’t be too afraid to buy there.

If you want to go the most economical route…I’d say a used engine…pull out the old drop in the “new” If you fix the other THAT can run into big labor bucks… all depends. I don’t think its out of the question to buy this…but I am OBVIOUSLY BIASED being a mechanic…so I apologize for that LOL>…

Actually these engines are QUITE AFFORDABLE>…seen them as low as 600 with FREE SHIP…and as much as 3500 w/o shipping… so PLENTY of options for you. I would get an engine for about 1500 free ship and pay what 500-800 to install… Bang…ZOOM…your off to the races


3400 is too spendy for a car that doesn’t run.
Offer him a grand, ask blackbird nicely and he will drop a cheap $600 engine in there for you.: D

Seriously, unless your hubbie is handy around cars or your mechanic is family or a good friend, I’d stay away from it. After you drop an engine in that thing, you could find a mess of other problems with it.

Honda Odysseys built in early 2004 had bad transmissions. Late 2004 had a better transmissions. Not sure what the cut off point is for VIN number.

The engines were good. Not sure why this one blew. Could have been a timing belt that wasn’t changed on time.

You could probably buy this van cheaper. Offer less. Then have Blackbird put in a new (used) engine. Or get a quote from your Honda mechanic. Better yet, have him look at this van, then give you a quote for a new (used) engine.

Way overpriced for the risk involved. $6500 cars are enough of a risk. Not being able to test drive one multiplies the risk.

Move on.

Agreed about the buy price…I mean you have MORE than an excellent point in negotiation there…I’m with Remoco…Offer him HALF of what he is asking… You can also say you have no clue how the transmission is in the vehicle nor can he prove what he says to you…SO…you should say…I’m looking at a new engine and trans I need to buy here…THEN I have to pay to install it…If he says no no no the trans is good…you say “prove it”…cant? Then its bad too you say…or at least you need to approach it that way… Get me/us? I’f you can buy this for say 1500…buy a 1200 engine…and 600 to install…I think you will be rather happy…IF that tranny is good…but since you dont know about it…you should figure that in on the bargaining… Hell…pick me up and I will bargain FOR you…I’m the STEAL DEAL GRAND MASTER…I can tell you that…LOL Where are you located geographically any way? East West Mid?


I think someone who is asking 3400 dollars for a 7 year old vehicle with a blown engine is way, way, way off base.
The most I’d give for something like that is 500-700 dollars and you can be reasonably sure if they allowed an engine to fail then odds are everything else on the vehicle has been neglected.

Leather seats, new tires, and new struts don’t really add much to the value of a vehicle in a situation like this.
A “great deal” this is not; it’s a parts car at this point.

A potential problem is that if the engine blew due to neglect, you can be sure the rest of the vehicle was neglected also.

If you can get a very low selling price, it might pay off. Go to Edmunds.com and research the car on the site to determine the true market value of the car in “fair” condition. If you replace the motor you would never get top condition value for the car if you disclose the engine swap.

At the same time the engine is replaced I’d have the transmission rebuilt as well. This model is known to have “weak” transmissions and it would be cheaper to get the transmission in shape as it will come out with the motor swap anyway.

With a good motor and and a rebuild tranny you could expect to get a lot of miles and years service from a nice car. $3,400 for the car as it is seems steep. If you got it for $2,000 you should be able to stay within your budget and that includes the tranny work.

I would suggest this with a $6500 budget: Shop for the best vehicle you can get for $5500 or less. Have any potential purchase checked out by your mechanic. Set aside $1000 for potential repairs. Secondly, don’t be hung up on a particular make–in your case Honda. There are other companies that make cars.
With the engine not functioning, there is no way to know if the transmission is working properly, the air conditioning is functional, the electrical system is bug free, etc. I don’t understand why the seller didn’t have a used engine installed in the vehicle. Perhaps he knows about other problems the vehicle has as well.
As far as a minivan is concerned, I have owned four different minivans–a Ford Aerostar, a Ford Windstar, a Chevrolet Uplander and now a Toyota Sienna. If you have driven one minivan, you have driven them all. I know that the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna are the top rated minivans, but I liked the 2006 Uplander that I owned just as well as the 2011 Toyota Sienna that I now have. The only reason I don’t have the Uplander is that my son needed a better car, so we sold him the Uplander with a family discount. I rode in it a couple of weeks ago and it runs very well at 90,000 miles and has given no problems to either him or me.

Wow, you guys have imparted so much wisdom on me! I really truly appreciate all of your kind advice! I’m in the midwest, (we just moved here) and there seem to be a huge spectrum of used minivans, it’s really hard to know which one to get. I think another reason I was leaning toward a Honda was bc we found the nicest independent mechanic that specializes in hondas…really felt like someone I could trust! But I think we may just move on from this “deal”, it sounds like an awful lot of risk and I don’t think we’re up for that risk. I think I will keep looking and canvas the boards for some other good feedback on minivans in our price range. I got some great ideas from your feedback. Thanks again, you guys are awesome!

I think you are making the right decision in passing up the Odyssey with the blown engine. I have purchased used cars, television sets, audio equipment and lawnmowers that had problems. In the case of the cars, I felt I could live with the problem. For example, my first car was a 1947 Pontiac that I bought for $75. It did run, but the low gear in the transmission made a terrible noise. I lived with it by shifting to second as soon as possible. The television sets and audio equipment were made back in the days of vacuum tubes and hand wired chassis. These weren’t hard to trace the circuits and replace an open resistor or leaking capacitor. With the lawnmowers, pulling the flywheel and replacing the magneto points often brought them to life. However, with an expensive purchase like a vehicle, it doesn’t pay to take the risk.

Sounds like you’ve made up your mind but! if the maintenance records are complete AND the mileage of the thing is within reason it may be worth going forward. The first step is propose the plan to your mechanic and see if he thinks it’s worthwhile. Another idea might be to make the offer contingent on the owner fixing it (or guaranteeing it against other problems) then you can have it fully assessed before the purchase. Get a contract. But then he’d be tempted to ask the book price for it instead of the price for selling/fixing it. Depends on how bad he wants to get rid of it. I’ve heard that 04 transmissions are better than previous years but Consumer Reports said Honda van trannys are the worst of available minivans. I have an 05 and am a bit concerned even so. If I had it to do over I’d buy a Toyota. Factoring in the hassle of doing it against the money you have may make it a gamble you might be willing to take.

Fuzzball, 2005 Odyssey transmissions haven’t had the same high frequency of problems that the 99-2004’s had.

The odds of an Odyssey engine failing due to a factory assembly or metallurgical problem is about zero. It was more than likely due to neglect and if someone can trash the heart of the car then why expect they would take care of the rest of the body.