Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Advice on Engine Replacement


Until recently, my parents drove our 1998 Honda CR-V on a 100 mile round trip daily commute, Birmingham, AL to Tuscaloosa and back. At about 258k miles the engine developed some trouble. It was ascertained that the last person to replace the timing belt did so incorrectly, resulting in a burned out cylinder.

Subsequently, my parents bought a new car. The idea has been thrown around for me throwing in with them on getting a new engine for the CR-V, thus replacing my 1991 Honda Accord with similar mileage. My folks would then use the Accord for putting around Tuscaloosa during the day.

My parents have run all our vehicles until they can’t go any more, possibly after they should have sold/given away the car. We take pretty good care of them, but they just eventually wear out. Friends of the family are amazed that we would consider this. Is it reasonable to replace this engine, or should I just work toward a newer used vehicle? I think other parts have been replaced fairly recently but can’t remember offhand.

Any thoughts would be appreciated!

At 258K I would not invest in another engine. The money would be better spent on a newer, lower mileage vehicle.

Besides, driving the CR-V would cost you more money, since it won’t get the mileage your Accord gets.

At that mileage, odds are this vehicle needs work other than the engine so I would probably say it’s time to say good-bye to it. There are a couple of exceptions though.

  1. If you can find another engine and the installation at a reasonable price.

  2. This is in regards to your comment about the timing belt installation. You state it has a burned out cylinder and by this comment I take it to mean the compession is low.
    The timing belt installation may not have been behind this if a valve and valve seat is burnt. This is usually due to failure to inspect and adjust the valve lash every 30k miles. (this should be done no matter what the clueless people who are behind the owners manuals state)
    More than one CR-V owner has been left with an engine problem due to the bone-headed factory recommendation of inspecting them at infinity.

If it’s a burnt valve problem and compression is good otherwise then performing a simple valve job after removing the cylinder head is an option.

I’d be more interested in finding out exactly what’s wrong with the current CRV engine and the condition of the vehicle overall before forming an opinion. Are we talking a burned valve here or a hole in the piston?


I would guess that even putting in used engine would cost you at least 3 thousand dollars. You may want to consider getting what you can for the car as-is and adding some more money to that an just find another newer car since you drive so many miles. I would only consider repairing the car if everything else is in excellent shape. Then again how much longer do you want to keep the car. Parts start to become a problem at some point.

Thanks for all the advice, guys. We had the CR-V towed to one of the most dependable garages in Birmingham, and they stated that we had burned out a cylinder due to an incorrect timing belt installation. It could have been the valve lash, but this is what they stated. They were also the ones that stated the engine was in bad enough shape that it needs to be replaced. It still runs, but the power output feels like it was halved.

I had a feeling it might be a bit much to replace the engine.

Thanks everyone!

This one is a tough call. That’s a lot of miles on the chassis, but it’s highway mileage and if everything was properly maintained it may still have many good years left in it. I’d have everything else checked over before making a decision.

Can you do an engine swap yourself? If so, and if you can locate a good used motor, then it might be worth it.

I don’t understand what diagnostic techniques they’re using (if any at all other than a guess) but if they’re going to lay this off on a timing belt installation problem then that kind of asks the question about why only one cylinder is affected. A timing belt is not going to pick on one cylinder; it will affect all of them.

Besides, if the timing belt installation was off enough to cause this problem it would have been noticed from the moment the alleged incorrect installation was done, along with the CEL being illuminated, etc.

I would be willing to bet that if the valve cover were removed and the lash inspected that you would likely find a tight exhaust valve. Adjusting the lash at this point would be an exercise in futility because the valve is already burnt due to lash not being inspected on a regular basis.

A burnt valve is not a car killer.

Another more obscure cause of engine damage would be if the ignition timing were incorrect (too much advance) due to the timing belt change but this should be apparent by any pinging or clattering during acceleration on a warm engine.

it would be much easier to look at investing in another car. you would have to find a new engine, have it shipped, and have it installed to keep the warranty. just some food for thought.

Time to say goodbye! You’ve had good service out of your faithful friend, and such a long commute requires a dependable car. Another Honda will let you travel 10 more years or so with good maintenance.