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Mom's Buick

My mom has a 1997 Buick LaSabre in mint condition. Yesterday, the check engine light came on and mom drove directly to the nearest mechanic (there are 3 in our town). She walked home and called back to the shop yesterday at closing time. The mechanic told her the engine had “locked” when they started the car and that this could mean “big trouble.” Are we correct in assuming the biggest possible trouble would be replacing the engine? What is a reasonable cost for a rebuilt engine? What in your opinion is the cost tipping point for junking the Buick and buying a new car. This car has been highly reliable and well maintained.

I did a quick check on nadaguides.com. This car is worth only about 2375 or so, if it has only 100K miles on it. Get an estimate on installing a used or rebuilt engine and go from there. I would also like to know what the mechanic think happened. Did the engine run out of oil or coolant, or what probably caused it to “lock/seize” up?

The car is 13 years old, so I would very carefully consider putting additional money into it. Other items can go wrong as it ages.

Before you start deciding how much money to spend, get more information about the “locked” engine. What made it “lock,” precisely, and how is it connected to the CEL?

What was the reason the CEL came on?

That’s just what I am thinking. This sounds really fishy. Is this a trusted mechanic? How was the car running lately and right before she dropped it off? Was the engine light actually flashing?

Do report the actual error codes.

If your mom is elderly, then they may have smelled a big boat payment coming from her. I’d never just drop my car off for a CEL reading. If you go to the shop and get the car running, drive it away as fast as you can from that place. Go to AutoZone or Advance Auto and have them scan the codes, post them on here and we can get a better idea of what’s wrong.

I agree with bscar. Drop in on the repair shop and try to start the car. If it is irreparably damaged, trying to start it won’t hurt anything that isn’t broken already. And don’t take no for an answer.

How did it run after the light came on, while she was driving to the garage? I’ve had several GM cars with the same engine and the only time I’ve even heard of one locking up was when the timing chain broke. She would not have gotten to the garage if that was the case. I would get another opinion.