New engine or new car?

So, I’m a 27yr old female who basically knows nothing about cars! My 01 Eclipse has broken down stemming from a radiator problem and now the shop is telling me that I need to replace or rebuild my engine. Both of which, are obviously very costly! So my question is, should I possibly look into just buying another car. I’m completely upside down as I still owe on my current car, but also don’t have $3,000 to just throw at the repair shop as they don’t offer pymt plans! ughhh, HELP!

Fix it if you are upside down.

Look in the newspaper and on line at what $3000 will buy. Are you interested in anything? Expect a high mileage car that is at least 10 years old, and probably not a small car - they will have higher mileage and be older than a plain midsize car.

If you can take out a small loan, consider how much you can afford and check to see if you can get a loan at your bank or credit union. The rates will be better than at a dealer, and it opens up private sales to the loan process. That is, if you can even get a loan. I don’t mean your credit rating, but loans for most people are nearly impossible to get. Don’t let that stop you; check into it and know what you can afford going into the purchase.

Am I to understand that you drive the car in an overheated condition and the motor is now toast?

This one is going to cost you. There’s no easy way out. It’ll be an expensive education.

If you’re “upside down” on the loan already, you’ll be unable to trade or sell the car with a blown motor without going deep into the loss column. You’ll be responsible for the difference between the sale price and the loan balance…and, since it has a lien, you won’t even be able to legally sell it unless you pay that difference…the lienholder has to sign the title over.

I don’t think you have a choice but to find a way to get it repaired. Sorry.

First of all, get a second opinion. Replacing or rebuilding an engine is rather extreme, and it would be nice to know more about the cause of the problem. Radiator problems only become engine problems if the driver allows them to.

What, exactly, happened to your car?

Be honest.

I agree with everyone else. Get a second opinion on the work that needs to be done at an independent shop, and then get it fixed. The shop might be able to repair the engine instead of rebuilding it. If not, I think you should be able to find a junkyard engine and have it installed for much less than $3,000 if money is very tight.

As for payment options, you can probably get a small personal loan or open a credit card that offers 0% interest for a year if your credit is decent. Just make sure you can afford to pay the loan or the card off.

Like the same mountainbike said, this is an expensive way to learn about cars, but you’ll probably never let this happen again. Spend some time hanging around the forums here, and you’ll learn a lot. Hopefully enough to save you the next time something like this happens. :slight_smile:

In this case a USED engine is often a better choice than a rebuilt one. A new engine in this car would probably not be a good choice. The price of a used engine is very dependent on the supply.

As others have noted, I would be inclined to go with a used engine, and that might nearly cut the cost in half.

The other thought I have is - how upside down are you? There are a couple of car dealers in my area that have a sort of a “drag it, push it, tow it - we don’t care, we’ll pay it off on trade” sort of sale at least a couple times per year. Now, I don’t know how well that really works since we’re talking about car dealerships (I’ve never tried it), and just how upside down you are could make a difference. But - in most areas car dealers are going to be pretty desperate right now, and you may be able to find some way to get into a new car while holding your current monthly expenses similar. I would never bet on that, but it may be worth spending an afternoon on the phone.

If I am not mistaken, isn’t the Eclipse an interferance engine? Did the timing belt go on this vehicle and bend up a few valves? Exactly what is wrong with the engine as told to you by the repair shop. Do you have a boyfriend, brother, Dad, cousin etc who can do a shade tree diagnostic on it for you and maybe yank the head or pull the engine if necessary. Up here in NW Ohio we have been rebuilding engines for about $1000 which is pretty much the parts, gaskets etc and the rest charity. Our salvage yards usually can come up with a used engine for around 500 but you need the buddy system to put it in for you. Don’t give up too easily, especially in these hard times. People need to jump in and help one another.
Rocky…I am retired and I do these for free and usually pay for the parts if they can’t or scrounge around the junk yards for the cheapest…

Was there an overheating episode associated with this “radiator problem”?? How was the engine damaged?

As you are learning, ignorance can be very expensive. Invest in an automotive book or two so you can at least communicate with your mechanic…