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$3500 for car repairs. Repair or move on?

2003 vw jettawagon 1.8L turbo (85k miles!) - timing belt snapped… $3500 to fix (includes parts and labor). bluebook is 6k.

Wife loves the vw and wants to save $ by not making new payments for a used/new car. I’d rather get a used or new subaru forester (2009 or newer) and deal with the payments.

Auto shop might take the car off our hands… I offered 2500. (probably won’t get that amount)

Should we repair or move on?

Thx!

How are they fixing it? If the car is in decent shape and the fix is done properly, it might be worth it. If you get another year out of the car, it pays the repair off.

Was this T belt changed per the owner’s manual and still snapped or no?

Car’s in decent shape and we don’t have any payments on it. we bought the car in 09 at a dealership for 10k and it had about 60k miles but we didn’t know the timing belt had to be changed around that time.

however, the timing belt itself was fine. the actual issue is the lack of oil discovered in one of the journal bearings (scarred surface due to metal on metal) which caused the engine to seize up and snap the timing belt. cause is most likely due to clogged oil strainer (we were pretty good with getting oil changes at regular intervals so not sure how the strainer could get clogged unless previous owner might have been at fault)

Anyway, journal bearing has to be machined… new cylinder head… timing belt/pump/tensioner… oil strainer…

We may repair it since we don’t have any payments on the car and it’s probably cheaper than financing a used forester.

the actual issue is the lack of oil discovered in one of the journal bearings (scarred surface due
to metal on metal) which caused the engine to seize up and snap the timing belt. cause is most
likely due to clogged oil strainer

This raises a big red flag.
If one journal was scored and seized up, how do you know that any of the other bearing journals are not damaged?

Do you really want to invest $3500 in an engine repair without knowing if there is further damage there just waiting to cause trouble?

This sounds like a former leased car where the renter NEVER changed the oil…I would take Joe’s advise and MOVE ON…Or install a used engine, not try to do a half-way rebuild of your trashed engine…But used engines involve a gamble too…On these timing belt/interference engines, decent used engines are hard to find because demand is so high…

“This sounds like a former leased car where the renter NEVER changed the oil…I would take Joe’s advise and MOVE ON”

Yup!
As the OP has found out the hard way, used cars tend to be a crap shoot, based on how they were maintained by the previous owner(s).

But, beyond the usual unknowns when buying a used car…buying one that did not come with full maintenance records, and with a copy of the mfr’s maintenance schedule, so that you can compare the two, is an almost sure formula for disaster. Since the OP tells us that, " it had about 60k miles but we didn’t know the timing belt had to be changed around that time", I am going to assume that the car came with neither maintenance records nor a copy of the mfr’s maintenance schedule, which should have been an immediate red flag.

Or, alternatively, the car did come with a copy of the mfr’s maintenance schedule, but the OP failed to ever open the booklet to see what needed to be done, and when it needed to be done. Hopefully, the OP will come away from this experience with knowledge about what to do and what not to do when buying a used car.

Anyway–as was said, it is time to cut your losses and move on. If as much maintenance was skipped as I suspect, this car is like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode again inside the OP’s wallet.

I would keep the car and have a reman engine installed. If you take care of it, the car will give years of good service at a less cost than a good used car.

My vote is also for moving on to another car because that engine is likely damaged from stem to stern and this would probably be apparent once diassembled.
The turbocharger itself is quite likely damaged and the price of a remanufactured engine along with a new turbocharger may make this repair not economically feasible. It’s certainly worth doing a price check on but brace yourself; it won’t be cheap.

My feeling is that the original owner likely knew it was damaged goods (not changing the oil, running the engine out of oil, etc) and that’s why they traded it in; after stuffing it full of 20-50 motor oil.
Doctoring a damaged car and foisting it off on a dealer is something that is not unheard of.

My vote is to move on. Back in the early 1960s, I bought a 1955 Pontiac from a Rambler dealer. His mechanics had overhauled the engine. I thought it was a great buy, but I had trouble from the first day. The 1955 Pontiac, even though it was a V-8 with hydraulic lifters, did not have an oil filter as standard equipment. The Pontiac I purchased did not have the optional oil filter. I had a terrible problem with the rocker arm studs that carried the oil to the rocker arms plugging up with sludge. I fitted an oil filter to the car, changed oil frequently and had the passages in the head cleaned out, but the problem persisted. I eventually dumped the car. Since your VW Jetta has a clogged oil strainer, you may have problems with sludge in the oil passages even after the repairs. That is why my vote is to not repair this one and use the money as a down payment on a better car.

Before you move on, let us know what the shop charges to put a remanufactured 1.8 turbo in it. If the price is attractive, you might consider it. I would also get at least 3 estimates or a remanufactured engine swap. While we’re on the subject of the drivetrain, how is the transmission?

The shop quoted me ~5k for a rebuilt engine (incl parts and labor) or $4700 for a used engine with ~110k miles. I’d have to look around and see where I could get 3 other estimates. We haven’t had problems with the transmission prior to this incident so I’m assuming it’s ok.

 The right answer is to keep the wife happy.   Hopefully you will have her longer than the car.  It has been my experience is a happy wife is worth far more than any car.

Amen.

What the wife wants is important but I’m sure she could find another machine to love just as much.

I’ll say this a few times anyway. When looking at a repair, it can be worth it if you are going to drive it enough to justify the repair. When I drove 40K a year, I could justify a heavy expense because in just a few years I would have gotten another hundred thousand miles out of it. For normal people this isn’t the case. Although a car without an engine isn’t worth much, how can you justify putting that kind of money into a machine that old and not as safe as a new one?

Lots of people will say the repairs are cheaper than making payments. What is not considered though is when you are making payments, you have bought ALL new parts and new technology, not just the one part you are replacing. You are back at square one wityh everything new. Also most people do not trade cars after doing major work. So on a used car you depend on replacing tires, brakes, timing belts, hoses, cooling, etc. etc. even on a well cared for car.

if its an automatic i would run if a stick i would have to think real hard about it