New Engine - Shady Mechanic?

I had the engine replaced in my 2009 toyota sienna van about 3 weeks ago. The work came with a 6 month warranty.

A few days after I got it back some lights came on VSC and the check engine light I believe. I took it back and they adjusted something. And I was all good until a few days ago when the AC started cutting out, engine temp gauge would go crazy, and all sorts of lights would pop up.

I took a look under the hood and the engine coolant container was bone dry. I filled it up with 50/50 coolant. I was taking it back to the garage the next morning and the it started to get real “choppy” with acceleration and I barely made it to the shop.

Fast forward to today and the guy calls me and tells me that they’re replacing the radiator since it had a “hole” in it and that the alternator had to be rebuilt entirely. I’m no mechanic but it’s suspicious that I’ve never had an alternator or radiator problem before his guys replaced my engine. I paid $4K bucks for the replacement and now he wants another $600.

Am I getting taken for a ride or is this just bad luck?

several pieces of the puzzle as yet unanswered.
Why did you initially think you needed an engine replacement the first time ? and with a used one to boot ?
Many of these other issues could easily have been pre-existingand easily fooling you into the whole engine diagnosis…or even caused the bad engine ( like the leaking radiator causing an overheated engine…a locked up component like a/c or alternator holding the belt so tight that one thinks the engine is locked )

As johnny 5 says…’'more input. ‘’

The initial issue was a complete loss of acceleration. The engine would rev but no motion and then the engine shut off and nothing. Mechanic said that I had “thrown a rod” and a cracked block if I remember correctly. He told me it would cost just as much to repair as it would to just get a new engine.

Is Johnny 5 alive yet?

As an owner…you can repair a broken automobile but unfortunately…you have to fix all of the broken automobile.

You got a new engine; not a new everything else around it.

A 2009 Toyota should not have needed a new engine unless it had half a million miles on it or was neglected. Based on a thrown rod and cracked block, in most cases this means lack of oil due to an oil change error, abrupt failure of an oil pressure sender, or not checking the oil level regularly.

Just curious, but I might ask what the definition of “new” is in this case.
New as in brand new or low miles engine from some salvage or JDM?

low-ish miles engine. 45K if I’m not mistaken.

1st lets look at the old engine. You said it was taken in because of a lack of acceleration…the engine would rev, but the car did not move.
This would make me think that you had a transmission problem and while in the shop and revving it, the engine threw a rod.

I’d have to wonder why the new engine moves the car but the old one did not before you threw a rod.

Granted a 2009 should not need a new engine, but we could see the need if the engine had a lot of miles and it was poorly maintained in the past.

I think there is too much missing info for us to pin anything down.

The radiator leak may have been enough to cause a major overheating situation, and if the oil level was poorly maintained, these two things could have caused the catastrophic damage, or thrown rod.

Even if the newer engine only had 43’000 miles…you never know if the old owner ever changed the oil.

The alternator would not be rebuilt, but replaced entirely.

FYI; both the alternator and radiator would not have come with the replacement engine.
Both would be the original parts from your vehicle. So they would have the same miles as your old engine…not the replacement.

If the $600 is for the radiator and new hoses…and a new alternator…and the labor…I don’t think that price is too out of line.


Even with only 45k miles on it I would strongly advise that you check the oil level on a regular basis; say every other time you fuel up.

Granted, 45k miles is not much but so much depends upon how it was maintained during that time. I’ve personally seen a fair number of low miles engines that were oil consumers at the least or ended up blowing up at the worst due to lack of oil or oil pressure.

Funny how all the engines that come from a recycle yard have less than 50K on them.


I know that REPUTABLE yards will just sell the engine for it’s scrap metal value if it has over a certain mileage on it. But I think it’s well past 50k miles. You really never know how many miles…it’s a gamble.

Thank you for all the advice. Seeing as I’m out of options I’m just paying the money for the repairs. This guy might be completely on the level but there’s no way to know since any information on it would have to come from him anyway. The whole thing just makes me sick.

I don’t know what kind of shop your dealing with but we welcome customers interest in their vehicles. If you’re told there is a hole in your radiator go down a have a look. You may see damage that occurred during engine installation or just a common cracked plastic radiator tank (you are lucky you didn’t damage the replacement engine driving without coolant).

We print alternator test results and this is available to the customer.

About the original engine I’ll speculate the VVTi oil hose ruptured spilling all your oil onto the road. There is a Toyota limited service campaign to replace the VVTi oil hose, do you recall having this replaced?

“Funny thing” . . . . that VVTi hose on the 2GR-FE engine

I actually replaced the hose on my brother’s Toyota BEFORE I even knew about the service campaign

I replaced it with a section of Gates bulk oil cooler hose. After a few years, even that started to seep again. Clearly a weak design, not the hose itself, but the layout

I found out that the service campaign will replace the hose with another “improved” hose

I said . . . k that and installed the solid metal line, which is supposedly not for my brother’s model year. I said supposedly, because it was a PERFECT fit. And I know for a 100% fact that the next model year and up use that solid line . . . with no curved hose . . . and have no problems

I told him if they ever tell him he needs to have the service campaign done, he should tell them to pound sand

And I also said if his car is ever at the dealership for some other campaign and/or recall, to tell them ahead of time to leave his solid metal line alone, or there will be hell to pay

It’s sickening that Toyota will not do the right thing and install the solid metal line as part of their service campaign. Clearly, replacing a failed hose with another hose is just putting on a bandaid. And when it fails again, in a few years, hopefully the engine will blow and the customer will be in the market for another Toyota . . .

And the customer has no idea that this service campaign is not a permanent repair. I can imagine, when the “improved” hose fails in a few years, and there’s severe engine damage, there are going to be some unhappy customers.

Toyota better hope that these customers don’t ever find out that there is a solid metal line that would be a permanent repair, but Toyota is too cheap to do the right thing


$600 parts and labor for a new radiator and rebuilt alternator seems pretty reasonable to me. It’s entirely possible both these things were about to happen before the original engine went kaput and you got a new one. One problem, the overheating incident you experienced on this new engine may have lasting consequences, so be prepared to deal with that if necessary. You may be looking at a head gasket replacement job in the future. But you might get lucky. If I were in your situation I’d spend the $600 and cross my fingers that work gets the car back on the road and reliable again.

If it had taken longer than a few days to manifest itself, no biggie. Since it happened right after the repair, I would have wanted to see the hole in the radiator. The condition of the radiator would say a lot about the cause of the hole. If the hole looked like it was corroded and matched the general condition of the rad, then OK. If it was a puncture from carelessness during the engine R&R, that’s a different situation…