255k on timing belt?

Looking at 05 vue with 3.5 Honda motor. Original owner is selling .never changed belt or WP. Mechanic said he would change it before driving it again. Seller says it runs fine. But they want to sell it. Runs fine. Think I could drive it 20 miles to my house?

Since it’s summer, you MAY make it. Honda typically designs a 100% safety margin into their belts. So, if the recommended interval was the newer 105,000 miles, you have a chance.

The broader question, of course, is what other maintenance has been neglected over the years. Since the Saturn Vue is an obsolete car, no longer made and supported, why even look at it unless someone GAVE it to you?

I’ve seen many quirky electrical/electronic problems with the Vue, regardless of drivetrain manufacturer. That coupled with 255,000 miles driven without basic routine maintenance (what else has been deferred?) means it would have to be a very good price before I would consider it.

drive it very gently, very gradual acceleration, and you MAY make it.

this appears to be an interference engine.

What’s the price? Better be near $0, since you’ll be paying big $$ to fix it up.

You could insist that the seller bring the car to your mechanic’s parking lot and do the transaction there. Then if the car doesn’t make it you’re not on the hook.

I agree with the others that you’d better be getting a very good price here.

Only drive it 20 miles towards your house if you’re planning replacing the timing belt right there . . . without any further driving until it’s done

I wonder what the record is for the miles on a timing belt.

If they’ve neglected the timing belt I would have to assume other maintenance has also been neglected. It “runs fine” means nothing with a timing belt. It may run fine right up the nano-second the belt breaks and then the repair costs will be much higher.

Just curious, but what are they asking for this neglected piece of automotive workmanship? I’m just trying to sort out whether or not they’ve placed a real world price on it or if they’re delusional.

There’s absolutely no way to tell. Given it has done 255K w/out a belt change, odds are in your favor. But why take the risk? Seller is convinced it will make it, no problem. So follow lion9’s idea, make the transaction continent on the seller delivering the vehicle to your preferred location in the same condition it is in now. Engine running.

Note: Have you checked the specs to make sure it even uses a timing belt? By 2005 a lot of manufacturers has already switched to timing chains, due to customers complaining about the expense and risk of timing belt service.


I’m 99% certain that particular engine uses a timing belt

A colleague owns a 2006 Saturn Vue with the Honda 3.5 V6, and I know for a fact it has a timing belt

I wonder what the record is for the miles on a timing belt.

A few years back, someone posted on this site that he worked in a factory that built and tested timing belts. (He did not say who he worked for). He said during their quality testing, sometimes belts would last over 400K miles.

As others have already stated . . .

If this vehicle has 255K and is on its original timing belt, I would be worried about many other things, as well

Maybe the coolant has never been changed . . . can you say plugged heater core?

Maybe the transmission has never been serviced . . . at that mileage, I wouldn’t expect it to last much longer, especially with the shoddy maintenance it probably received

I wonder how long the “To Do” list will be on that car once it’s gone over with a fine tooth comb and if the words “great” or excellent" appear in the ad.

This causes me to ask a question.

My daughter in law drives an '08 Impala. Her husband, who just happens to be my son (funny how that works) told me that the 3.5L V-6 in their Impala is the same 3.5L in the Saturn Vue and Aura. That would kind of make sense, but I don’t think it is correct. Looking at car-part.com does not show that the Saturn Vue’s V-6 fits anything but the Vue, not even a Honda. The Aura’s V-6 also fits the Pontiac G-6 and Chevy Malibu, but not the Impala.

Are (were) any of those other “GM” V-6s also made by Honda, or is my son misinformed?


Your son is correct, according to Wikipedia. Meaning the engine in his Impala was also used in the Vue and Aura, but only for certain model years

He might be assuming that all transverse 3.5 liter V-6 engines are the same

Not so

The 3.5L V6 in your son’s impala is an LZ4 3.5L V6 OHV engine. In other words, a pushrod engine. Rest assured, Honda did not produce a pushrod automotive engine any time in the recent past

The “problem” is that the Vue used several different engines over the years. Some were GM engines, others were Honda.

About 10 2005 vues for sale locally. 6-7 are manual trans/4cyl. Avg price is 2800-3100? A few want 4500. Only 1 V6 w/190k for $2500. The one I am looking at is 1400. Why is a running vue worthless? A belt swap is easy. Throw in a $40 WP and a tensioner and your good


In “Vue” of the low price, I’d go ahead and buy the car

Have the seller drive it over to your house. If it makes it over there, pay the man

Then don’t drive it again until the timing belt is replaced

Is the water pump also driven by the timing belt on this engine?

Needless to say, the car will need a lot of “catch up maintenance” once the new belt is installed

A running Vue isn’t worthless. I think the fear is that it might suddenly become a non-running Vue if the timing belt breaks. At that point it would have too little value to be economically fixable, although used engines are available. In light of Saturn’s demise, it’s not a brand I’d want to hang onto for long.

Thanks for the clarification @db4690

Are you doing the timing belt? If not, how much is it from a good mechanic? My concern is that over 250k most any car is nearing the end of its life.