Engine Replacement in 2002 Camry

My 2002 Toyota Camry suffered a rollover accident in 2004 in the snows of Colorado. Apart from a scratched and dented body, everything still seemed to be working. Without any repair, I proceeded to drive the car to Texas to visit my folks and drive back to San Francisco without any incident. The car was then declared “total loss” by the insurance company, but I decided to keep it and changed the title to “salvage”.

A few months later, I started hearing some faint clicking sound coming from under the hood at certain RPMs. The local Toyota dealership wanted to disassemble the engine entirely and charge several thousand dollars to do so. They also said they found metal shavings in the oil pan. Counting on my good luck so far, I declined their diagnosis and simply ignored the noise. (The car was obviously out of factory warranty due to the “total loss”.)

Since then the car has performed very well, even though the faint clicking sound remained. So far it has less than 65,000 miles in it. Unfortunately, two days ago it suddenly developed a very loud knocking noise from under the hood – even when idling. Alarmed, we towed the car to another Toyota dealership and they wanted to take the engine apart. They also reported metal shavings and think that we will need to replace the “lower block” of the engine, quoting a cost of around six to seven thousand dollars. I told the dealership to put a stop on any further work until I sort things out.

According Edmunds.com, a 2002 Camry in good condition cannot fetch more than $6,000. Even with a working engine, a car with a salvage title might not fetch more than $3,000. A junk yard quoted me a value of $750 to take the car. A reasonably used engine on the Internet seems to cost around $1,500. One option we can take is to hire someone to find and replace the engine. A relative of ours (who is a professional mechanic of heavy equipment) said it may take about 30 hours of labor to replace the engine – once a replacement is found.

We have not yet started looking for a shop in the San Francisco Bay Area that is willing to warranty the engine and the labor. The relative mentioned that this should only be undertaken by a major shop, and Napa may be one to consider. Rather than using a used engine from a wreck, he said Napa may be able to rebuild one and warranty it.

What do you recommend us to do? One the one hand, given that the “book value” of the car is probably less than $3,000, it does not seem to make sense to spend more than, say, $1,000, on it. On the other hand, the “replacement value” of the car is probably around $20,000 (to buy a new car), and if so, then it may be worthwhile to spend up to $10,000 to get it working again.

Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

When the insurance compnay declared the car a total loss you should have gotten a “check” along with notice of total loss. A 2002 car in 2004 should have yielded a decent check, $10 to 12K perhaps?

At this point you have to say you got a lot of use out of this totalled car with a salvage title. It is time to replace it. I think your car is worth very little with a salvage title and a knocking motor. The $750 from the salvage yard is a fair price. I won’t bother with a new, used, or rebuilt motor now.

Why do you say replacement costs is $20K? You’ve been driving an older car for years, so you can replace your Camry with another older car. Buy new if you want to and can afford it. If you put that $12K in the bank in 2004 you’d have a nice down payment on a new or newer car now.

Normally, I would recommend installing a salvage yard engine to get a few more years life out of this car…But since it ALREADY has been totaled and is not worth squat, even with a replacement engine, if you can get $750 from a salvage yard for your car (I doubt it) take the money and RUN!!! If it turns out they will only give you $100, take it and RUN !!!

You have gotten your money’s worth from this car, in terms of both usage and insurance compensation. Just junk it and move on.

It sounds like you are trying to get something for nothing. As others comment, sell the car for what you can get for it and move on to something more reliable and newer. There are plenty of good choices out there.

We will be glad to suggest some if you give us your budget.

Take the $750 from the salvage yard and move on. If any of the insurance payout is left, you can use it to get another car. And I would say the replacement value is the price of another 2002 Camry; about $7000.

Take the money and run. $750 is a gift.

For 750 that car would be gone yesterday. Around here you’re lucky if they offer 200 bucks.

The only way keeping this car would be feasible would be procuring and engine and doing the work yourself.