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Fair estimate for repair of Hyundai Sonata with failed timing belt?

The timing belt on my 03 Sonata failed. Here’s the estimate to get all the damage to the engine repaired. Sound fair?

Head work: $600

Head gasket set: $199.91

Timing belt kit: $143.81

Water pump: $107.20

Pistons: $163.70

Piston rings: $73.11

Rod bearings: $42.45

Misc materials: $60

Labor: $650

Fyi, the failure occurred at about 90K miles. Yes, I know we shouldn’t have let the belt go that long. I’m also wondering if I should cut my losses and just scrap the car. And maybe buy one with a timing chain instead next time.

"And maybe buy one with a timing chain instead next time."
I don’t know of any car where it will be cheaper to do reactive repairs instead of preventative maintenance.

Seems pretty cheap for the work involved.

Timing belt cars are fine if you actually change it.

Yes, the estimate is actually not too bad for the extensive repairs that result from a snapped timing belt.

Now don’t you wish that you had actually maintained the car as it should have been maintained?

As to whether you should scrap the car, much has to do with how you have maintained other parts of the car, such as the transmission. If the car has an automatic transmission, and if you have not changed the fluid every 3 yrs/30k miles, then you can look forward to transmission failure anytime from tomorrow to…maybe the 120k mark. Replacing/rebuilding the transmission will cost somewhere north of $2k.

Preventive maintenance is invariably cheaper than the repairs that result from owner negligence.

I guess if you’re already planning to neglect your next car, then you should get a timing chain instead of a timing belt.

Yes, the estimate is quite fair for the amount of work done. Usually a failed timing belt on an interference engine is AT LEAST $2000.

Yes, you should scrap this car.
Given your penchant for neglecting basic car maintenance, it is quite probable that many other systems in your car are about to fail-see the post above re. the automatic transmission. Start anew, and keep up with the factory recommended maintenance for the new car. Hyundai has a brand new 2011 Sonata just out, which has been getting rave reviews.


I guess that, by now, you have deduced that the regulars in this forum have little tolerance for people who are negligent with car maintenance. If you are looking for sympathy, this is not the place. We will call it as we see it, and we all see this as yet another case of a car owner who did not take the simple steps of opening his glove compartment, taking out the maintenance schedule provided by the car’s manufacturer, and following that maintenance schedule.

Maybe you can do better with your next car.
If you do, you will spend FAR less on maintenance than on the repairs that result from lack of proper maintenance.

Thanks for all the replies. I didn’t post this looking for sympathy; I fully realize how stupid I’ve been, and regret it greatly. I just wanted some guidance so that I can proceed from here. Again, I appreciate all the advice.

Yes, Join Some Of Us And Always Buy A Car With A Timing Chain. Too Bad People Have To Learn This The Hard Way.

There is a better than even chance that the pistons are not damaged and the head repair will be all that is necessary. A good shop is wise to make an estimate based on worst case scenario and hopefully call with good news when the full scope of the damage is exposed. Good luck.

There are a couple of unknowns, as always.
The biggest is that one never really knows what shape the lower end is in after a broken timing belt. Often the damage is no more severe than nicked up piston tops (which MUST have any sharp edges removed before reinstalling the cylinder head).

Sometimes it’s possible for a connecting rod to bend or a rod bearing(s) may be damaged. The latter may not be noticeable until down the road a ways. The former can be checked by measuring piston height in the cylinders. In this situation a new engine would be needed.

Tough call but a lot depends on how badly the piston tops are nicked up. If the car is straight and good other than this problem I would tentatively say repair it.

Once you fix it, the car will be worth at least what you paid in repairs, right? So I say fix it and keep driving it.

Could you buy another '03 Sonata for $2,000? If not, fix this one.

That is sort of what I’m wrestling with. But all this talk about the near-failing transmission and all the other horrors that are awaiting has me thinking that I should just get rid.

Have you serviced the transmission at the proper service intervals in the past? If so I wouldn’t worry about it, if not I would change it immediately and fix the car (at 90k miles if you change it now you’ll probably still be ok in my opinion).

If it has indeed never been changed i’d have the fluid flushed (cooler line flush, no pressure flush or chemicals) after having the pan dropped and filter changed to remove as much of the old fluid as possible.

What could you get for it without fixing it? What could you sell it for once it’s fixed?

I’ll bet you can find a smashed-up '03 Sonata in a junkyard with about the same miles on it. When the engine is out of the car most are much easier to replace the timing belt, water pump and so forth before you install it in your car. I know that it is a bit of a gamble but in this case you have already admitted to bad maintenance so your engine, already damaged by the timing belt breaking also has a poor record of maintenance. The salvage yard that I use has an inventory search database from all over my area (PA/NJ/NY) and lists replacements for this car at about $900 for an engine assembly, add to that another $200 for timing belt and water pump and maybe $600 for installation and you’re about the same as your admittedly bad maintenance and severely damaged engine. Rocketman

Many times, you spend $2000 for extensive “field repairs” to the engine only to discover the car never runs properly again… Today, few mechanics have the skills to rebuild complex engines in the field. A better choice would be a low-mileage salvage yard engine that was factory assembled…

[i] Yes, Join Some Of Us And Always Buy A Car With A Timing Chain. Too Bad People Have To Learn This The Hard Way.[/i] 

Or just do the proper maintenance and the chance of a belt going is rather remote.  It still is more likely than a chain, but not much more, after all chains also fail.   Belts do have some advantages over chains.  I don't think one has a clear advantage over the other  [b] if the owner does the proper maintenance.[/b]

The estimate is fair; 10 years ago my neighbor’s timing belt broke (prematurely) on her Volkswagen Passat. The bill came to $3000 then.

Agree with others that it’s worth fixing and then maintain the car by the book (OWNER’S MANUAL). Sonatas ar basically good cars and don’t cost an arm and a leg to keep going.

What about other maintenance items on the car? How often do you change the oil? Has the transmission fluid ever been changed? Have you changed the brake fluid? If the rest of the maintenance was done at Hyundai’s prescribed intervals, fix the car.