Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Engine rebuild or buy a new car?

I’ve got a 2006 Subaru Outback, 218,000 miles. Blown head gas gasket and noise indicating throw out bearing issues, so I’d need that plus full clutch rebuild while that’s apart. Add to that bushing wear and to get the car back in shape I’m looking at $3500 -$4000 in repairs. But my shop reckons with that investment I’ll get another 80-100K miles from the engine. The body etc is in great shape and we’re the original owners.
My decision is whether to do the engine rebuild, trust it will give me another 100K miles (I do love the car and am not a big fan of the Outback rebuild in 2010) or buy a new car - looking at high MPG 5 door hatchbacks like Mazda 3, Ford Fusion, Subaru Impreza/CrossTrek.
I’m thinking new rather than used because I keep hearing about the high cost of used vehicles vs the low cost and financing of new.
Thoughts, advise, considerations?


If you can get at least 80k for $4000, then that would be the best economic choice. engines and transmission are undergoing a radical change right now with new technologies being introduced with each new model year.

I think the next few years are going to see a big leap in performance. The CVT will continue to be refined as any remaining weaknesses will get identified and direct injection will become more universal. Turbo technology will improve as well. There are a lot of advantages to waiting.

I can’t see that kind of investment on a car with over 200k miles on it and also wonder why the shop thinks you should get another 80-100k miles out of the engine.
If it’s rebuilt properly (key word) it should last as long, or longer, than the original new from the factory engine so their statement is a bit odd, at least in my opinion.

If for the sake of discussion the rebuild was done then you still have a car with high miles on the suspension, transmission, and so on and unless it was maintained to the hilt, odds are a close inspection would reveal some needs.

Going with a new car might be a better option because with a used one in today’s world of lease cars, automotive neglect, etc. even buying a car with a paltry 20k miles on it is a gamble.

@ok4450 I agree that this would be throwing good money after bad; the rest of the car will have an uncertain future as well.

Get the most you can and move on.

Have you considered an engine swap? Since you say your car is in otherwise great shape, check Craigslist for a wrecked car being sold cheap, one where the engine was not affected. You may get lucky and find one that can still be started, so the engine can be evaluated before you spend money on it. But be mindful of any signs on the donor car suggesting good care, or abuse.

If your car was beat up, it wouldn’t be worth it, but given the otherwise good condition and the fact that you like it, it might be an option to consider. Ask your shop what they’d charge to swap engines, see if that pencils out better than your other options. Then decide which way to go.

I agree with OK4450 on this obe. I can’t see putting that kind of cash into a chassis with that much mileage.

I have to agree with ok4450 on this one as well. The useful life of this vehicle is basically over from an economic standpoint.