Killed my van.. looking at options to resurrect it and need help understanding

I admit fault here. I neglected the timing belt change in my 1995 Honda Odyssey minivan. This was about six months ago. The van died on the highway doing about 60. In my defense, I knew it needed to be done but was having a really tough time financially and just hadn’t managed to come up with the money for it. Ooops. I have beat myself up repeatedly for this, trust me.

Had it towed to a shop who declared I’d done the dreaded valve damage. They quoted me $2400 to fix, but said there was no guarantee with that “fix” that it would completely “fixed”.

Someone has suggested to me that I instead consider a rebuilt engine, or perhaps a junkyard engine. I’m trying to understand the pros/cons of the two options and the ballpark costs.

Full disclosure: I am silly about this van. I love it more than any vehicle I’ve ever had, well, since my high school Camaro which is not practical for me anymore. The van had 150k miles when I killed it. Transmission fine. Body straight and perfect. Interior perfect. Softest interior fabric I’ve ever experienced. AC and all other things worked. This vehicle was commonly mistaken for a much newer one… people were always surprised it was as old as it was when I told them. I was the second owner and the first owner did an excellent job of caring for it inside and out. Me, well, not so much, but I didn’t abuse it.

If I had money to buy something right now, I’d go looking for another first generation Odyssey, no doubt, so to me the idea of a rebuilt engine in it or a junkyard (scarier to me) makes sense. If I were to shop for one in the same condition, same year range, right now, I’d be looking at $2000 to $3000 cash purchase price. I really don’t want anything but another Honda Odyssey and I don’t want any Odyssey after 1999 due to the transmission problems known to the 2000 and later models. Plus, my van had a cool 4 door car style to it that I loved over the usual van sliding doors. :slight_smile: It’s the little things.

Can I rebuild an engine (with labor) for around that much? If I were to go with a junkyard engine, what are the risks? Also, what are the consequences of it having sat now for about six months?

Appreciate any input!

If you really love that van, you are better off finding a used one well maintained and keeping yours for parts. I am guessing other maintenance has gone by the wayside and you can fix the engine but more overdue repairs will surface their ugly heads.

The problem with the van having 150k miles and sitting the last 6 months is that if you just do the heads, the rings are likely to become unseated and as a result, the engine will become an oil burner. If it had 100k, I’d say go for it, at 200k, I can guarantee that it will be an oil burner, 150k is a 50/50 chance.

Junk yard engine for older vehicles don’t usually turn out well either. If the mechanic has experience overhauling engines, then get a quote for refurbished heads, rings, and bearings. Compare that to a remanufactured engine. A reman will probably last the longest, but an overhaul by a good mechanic can be a close second. Get references for a mechanic rebuild though.

Before going for a replacement engine I’d at least pull the head. Hopefully the problem is just the valves, and replacing those w/new ones and mabe a little machining on the head will get you back on the road. The reason the shop says they can’t guarantee it will fix it is b/c there may be unseen lower engine damage from the incident. But if there’s no signs looking down into the cylinders, and from looking up from the oil pan, think positive, that probably didn’t happen. It’s preferable to keep the same engine b/c of compatibility problems between the electronics.

It looks like only the 3.0 and 3.2 are freewheeling in the Honda line, so your 2.2 is indeed an interference engine design. And you just got interfered with is all … :wink:

I say let it go. It’s 20 years old and once the mechanic starts working on it, I can guarantee that he will find a BUNCH of other stuff that needs fixing that’s going to just add to the cost. This will cost more and you will still have a 20 yo van with all the problems that come along with a 20 yo van. Anything can break at any time. It would be helpful to be able to work on it yourself, because it is the labor cost of keeping it running that will hurt.

$2400 and they won’t guarantee the job…(I can’t blame them) A used engine? These are in VERY high demand because you are not the only one with this problem…So you will pay too much for another big gamble…The Rock And The Hard Place…Kiss it goodby and move on.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your van is 20 years old and has a busted engine. Everything else on the car is also a gamble. I would not put $2K in that car, spend some money on therapy :smile:

My wife & kids loved our 2000 Caravan, it had close to 180K miles, it needed so many parts changed each month that the counter people at Napa and AZ knew me by first name and would give me the mechanic’s discount. I finally let it go, they cried for one day, then got used to the cushy and nice/quiet ride of the Camry I gave them.

You couldn’t rebuild it properly (key word) for 2400 dollars. There would probably be better than 500 bucks worth of engine block and cylinder head work alone at the auto machine shop. Add to that parts, fluids, labor, etc and it will get up there.

The only way I could see this being feasible would be if you hit eBay for a cylinder head and timing belt kit (selling them as a kit should tell you something) at about 400 or so dollars and got someone on the side to swap the head out and install the belt kit at a cut rate price.

As to salvage yard stuff, the unscientific percentage of engines/transmissions/ rear axles/etc that I’ve dealt with have flaws ranging from minor to major to scrap iron seems to be about 35%.
To me, that might as well be 50/50 on the odds.

This had the 4 cylinder, right? I wouldn’t put any more money in it. It served you well, time to move on.

Hi! If you gave up on your '95, would you be willing to sell my your computer, assuming it is functional? Mine, in ST. Louis, appears to be dead. Sorry about the timing belt non-change. Sorry to sound like a vulture, but I guess that is what I am doing. Thanks, Paula j.

Making lemonade out of lemons … good idea Paul!

You should get a remanufactured head installed and see how it goes. No matter what you choose to do there is no guarantee that any of it will work out right. There is also no assurance that everything will fail. I’m hoping that you can get this done for under $1,500. Forget about a used engine; the shops are forever installing the wrong ones.

Every Honda I’ve purchased came with a broken timing belt. That’s how I got them so cheap.

I’d take the head off and bring it to a machine shop and have them check the head for flatness, replace only the bent valves, and check for any cracked valve guides.

Then you’re going to need a head gasket set/timing belt kit to put it all back together.

Also, purchase the head gasket set prior to bringing the head to the machine shop. Then you can have them install the new valve guide seals that come with set while it’s at the shop.


hmmm … Ok, I think I understand what you mean Tester, the head gasket kit comes with new valve guide seals too.

Have you tried the us d engine route. I think the motor in this was a normal Honda accord motor which in this year was a top seller. I would pay for a swap and not fix it

“I would pay for a swap and not fix it”

Here’s a thought . . . that used motor is in all likelihood also way overdue for a timing belt. If you’re going that route, may as well change the timing belt, water pump, tensioner, idler, seals, etc. on the used motor, before dropping it in

When all is said and done, you’ve still got a 20 year old van

There’s no way I’ve ever installed a used engine without a new timing belt kit along with an engine rear main seal and a front pump seal on an automatic transmission.
Too much of a gamble by skipping it.