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Fix or sell?

My 2002 Civic needs tranny rebuilt and new head gasket :stuck_out_tongue: My dad has offered to give me $5,000 to either fix the Honda or buy another car. I’m inclined to fix it, but my friend thinks I should sell and buy a used Toyota. Suggestions?

If the head gasket failed in a manner where it allowed coolant to contaminate the engine oil, then you don’t want to spend money on this car. Once coolant contaminates the engine oil damage to engine bearings occurs. So you could do the tranny/head gasket replacement only to have the engine bearings fail six days or six weeks later down the road.

Also, if the engine was overheated this can cause the piston rings to coke onto the pistons. Or the piston rings got so hot where they’ve lost their temper or broke. In any of these cases you end up with an engine that burns a lot of oil.


I’ve been turning on the heater full blast to keep the temp down. How do I know if major damage has been done?

Turning the heater on full blast won’t mask a failed head gasket. Does it have an automatic transmission? And if it does, what makes you think it requires replacement?


Major engine damage analysis will probably involve an engine teardown. That costs money. Your best bet is to sell the vehicle “as-is” and use that money along with your dad’s 5K and buy another vehicle. I say this because both the engine and transmission need extensive repair.

manual. Making noise so I had my mechanic look at it. He said I will need to replace gears.

It would be nice to know how many miles are on your car, and its condition, other than the parts that make it go.

My thinking would be to look for a wrecked 2002 Civic to get a good engine and Xmission from. I have found that it is often cheaper to buy a complete wreck from an uninsured owner than just the driveline from a salvage yard. Put a WTB (Want to buy) ad on craigslist. You may be pleasantly surprised what pops up. You’ll have all those other parts to save before you haul the hulk off to the crusher too. You’ll also have $$ left over from the $5000 your dad wants to put toward whatever you do even if you have to hire all the swapping done.

If that doesn’t work, try, but expect to pay salvage yard retail.

173k. Runs fine, just overheats when I’m stuck in traffic. Replaced clutch last year. New brakes, tires, alternator. Peeling paint.

Given you kept driving the car in an overheat condition I would move on.

The things you never do with a modern car and it means tow to nearest shop NOW:

  1. Run without oil/low oil
  2. Run in overheat or near overheat condition, it will DESTROY your engine

Another vote to sell it and go shopping for something else. I would not put $5000 into this car. That is unless you are inclined to take MG’s advice above which also makes sense.

Thanks everybody for the advice. I’ll keep checking craigslist. Guess I can drive the Civic until it dies. :_(