Costly Repair - Fix or Buy New Car

I have a 2006 Accord LX Sedan, 4-cylinder. Had car for 10 years and has about 112,000 miles on it.

Here’s my story: My Malfunction indicator came on and car was shaking heavily when idling. So I took it to local repair shop. But then shop called me saying they couldn’t get it to start anymore. They said there was something wrong with time chain and told me to take to the dealer. The dealer said it would cost $250 to do diagnostic. If diagnostic revealed that valves had been damaged, it would cost $3,000+ to repair.

So a couple questions. First, how could this happen after only 112,000 miles? I was told time chain doesn’t usually have problems at that mileage.

Next, is it worth even getting the repairs, or is it better to just get a new car at this point?

Finally, is it even worth getting the diagnostic?

Any advice helps. I’m really lost on this one.

Instead you should go to a reputable independent shop (not a chain) and get a diagnosis which will likely cost less that 300 dollars. Other posters can fill you in if this is an interference engine, if so, the engine might be toast as well. The best you can hope for is a new (refurbished) head and timing chain and an independent shop can give you a better estimate.

If the car is otherwise in decent shape, I’d spend the money on diagnosis before dumping the car on a guess.

That car has what’s called an interference engine and if it has jumped the timing chain the cost to repair it could very well be over $2500. But until you know what has gone wrong with the car it’s anybody’s guess what you need.

There’s nothing exotic about your car or engine, I wonder why the first shop sent it away?

If you like the car, if it is otherwise in good condition and has been well maintained, if it is still comfortable and suits your needs, I would proceed with diagnosis and repair. Ask your friends, neighbors, coworkers for a recommendation to a local independent garage.

“There’s nothing exotic about your car or engine, I wonder why the first shop sent it away?”

I think it’s because I made the mistake of taking it to a SERVICE shop, instead of a REPAIR shop. The first shop was the place where I’ve previously taken it for routine maintenance.

But since my original post, I did find a local repair shop (I’m assuming it’s “independent” since it only has one location) and got car towed (again!!) from dealership to there. The gentleman was very nice (especially compared to the folks at the dealer), and said that since my engine was not “cranking” at all, he thought that MAY be good news (good news in that the repair wouldn’t be as costly as an engine or time chain repair/replacement).

So now that I’ve dropped it off at repair shop, I’ll just have to wait to hear what they say.

Yeah I wold for sure find out what is wrong and what it would take. It has a value of $3-5000 if in good running condition so would it be worth putting $3000 into it just to have it running? Might be better off not depending on what you could get in trade on a non-running car.

If your plans were to keep the car for several more years before this problem surfaced and it was in good shape otherwise, I think it’s worth the diagnostic. And if the shop is capable, consider having them inspect the car like you were buying it. There’s a good chance you could get 200,000+ miles from this vehicle. $3,000-$4,000 for 8 to 10 more years isn’t that excessive at today’s prices. And based on @Bing 's response, you could probably get your money back plus a little even if you decided to sell after getting it fixed.
I was faced with the same situation last month, so I know having to make this decision stinks. In our case, we were planning on replacing the car next year. The repair would have been roughly the same cost, but the most we could have got was $3,000 for the repaired car. It was a much easier decision, although I hated we were put in that situation.

I have a 2005 Accord EX V6 with about 155,000 miles on it. The only repair I’ve had is to add refrigerant to the AC system last spring. If you choose to fix this issue, there is a very good chance that the car will have few, if any, repairs for a very long time. My experience is not unusual, but yours is. If you want a different car, get it fixed anyway. If you sell it as a private party, you should get about $5000 for it after the repair, or $4000 as a trade-in. If you don’t fix it, it will be worth a few hundred dollars at most.

Take it to a reputable independently owned and operated shop for a diagnosis. It’ll probably cost an hour’s shop time, perhaps less than $150, which if you decide on-the-spot to go forward with the repair will likely be waived.

If it IS the timing chain, and you have the 2.4L 4-banger, it’ll look something like this. The primary wear components are the tensioner slide (the curved thing on the left) and, occasionally, the chain itself… ESPECIALLY if you haven’t been keeping up the oil changes AND monitoring the level. There’s an intimate relationship between good oil maintenance and lengthy chain life. A full pan of fresh oil goes a long, long way toward chain life.

HOWEVER… don’t make any assumptions until it gets a second look… and NOT by the dealer. There are tons of other possibilities for your symptoms. I would note be at all surprised to find out it were something far less cost-intensive causing your problem.

Oh, and the shop should be able to tell you if you have valve damage. That manifests itself first as bent valve stems, and a bent stem will prevent the cylinder from being able to pressurize. It’ll drive a vacuum gage nuts too.

Post back. We do care.

Yes, the car is worth a proper diagnosis and I agree with the same mountainbike; if there’s a timing chain wear issue or what have you then the likely cause is extended oil changes and/or operating the vehicle while low to some degree on oil.

Definitely find a shop who will verify that the timing chain is defunct or not. Unless the oil servicing hasn’t been done per the maintenance schedule, or there’s been work on this engine involving the timing chain before, it seems like a pretty good bet there’s nothing wrong with the timing chain, and the symptoms are due to something else.

BAD NEWS: Repair shop said the engine DID IN FACT jump. It would cost $6000 to replace engine. Not worth it. Off to the dump it goes.

Was utterly shocked this would happen so suddenly after just 112k miles. Up until a couple days ago (when I first noticed the “check engine” light), it had been running just fine. Accords are supposed to last a LONG time. I’ve gotten the car serviced regularly.

HOWEVER, THE SERVICE SHOP GUY DID SAY THE OIL WAS LOW. Is that what caused this? Or foul play perhaps?. Or just bad luck?

“Repair shop said the engine DID IN FACT jump.”

Jump time, I mean.

Okay, I also remember service shop guy saying that I should’ve gotten car serviced more often. I see now that Accord should be serviced every 5000 miles. However, service shop guy said it had already been 6000 miles since my last service (back in July). I had always serviced my vehicle when the oil life indicator showed less than 15%. Since my oil life indicator said 40% (when I looked at it a couple days ago), I assumed it didn’t need service yet. Guess I was wrong. :frowning:

It only takes a few minutes to check the oil level so on the replacement vehicle you should check weekly for at least two months and then after that do like I do and check it on the 1st and 15th of each month. The oil life monitor is a guide not an absolute gauge.

Oil life indicators are just “feel good” technology. They won’t buy you a new engine. Oil is so critical to engine life that it’s a false sense of security to rely on the oil life indicator and not check the level regularly.

I’m sorry to hear that the damage was so bad. I was hoping it would be something less financially crippling. Your choices now are a boneyard motor, a rebuilt motor, a crate motor (remanufactured by a company that does this and ship to your shop in a crate), or a rebuild of the existing motor. My choice would depend on the condition of the rest of the car, but would probably be a boneyard motor. There’s risk with these, but that would be my choice.

Sincere best.

Thanks everyone for the advice. Think I’ll just get a new car, especially since my car now has $1-3000 negative value. I’m really not a big car junkie so I think it’s really not worth my time and patience to shop around for the cheapest replacement parts. Besides, as the previous commenter said, cheap parts (like boneyard motor) have their risks.

@ko81 , I feel your pain. Sorry for the bad news.

I would suggest that with your next car purchase, no matter the make, that you check the engine oil level about every other time you fill up with gas.
This also applies to every brand new car manufactured even if you KNOW in your heart that the car is not and should not be consuming oil.

Countless engines are ruined every single year for failure to do something so simple and which consumes so little time.

@ko81, what does your owner’s manual say about oil change interval? If you did a lot of stop and go, then the 5000 interval is correct. My V6 accord seems fine with 7000 mile intervals. But mine is all highway driving. I have about 160,000 miles on it.