Rebuild or replace?



I have a 97 Volvo that burns a quart of oil a week. I wanted to either replace or rebuild the engine, but my Volvo mechanic said that for the money I spent on the rebuild, I could buy a used car and be better off. He estimated the repair would cost around $3500. What would you do?


How much do you drive in a week?


Your mechanic has given you good advice. Back in the good old days, remanufactured engines were available from Sears, Montgomery Ward, and a host of other places. These remanfactured engines were like a new engine. On the other hand, a rebuild or overhaul could amount to a sloppy patch. This “overhaul” often consisted of grinding the valves, knocking the glaze off the cylinder walls and fitting expansion rings on the pistons to control the oil consumption. These overhauls were good for maybe 25,000 miles.

Check your Volvo thoroughly for other potential problems–transmission, suspension, rust,etc. before you throw a lot of money into a 13 year old car.


If your car was in excellent condition, it might be worth as much as $2000. For $3500, you can improve on your current ride. You could buy a 2000 S40 for $3500, for instance. It’s time to move on.


Buy a really cheap case of engine oil and keep topping it.

At the same time save for a new car, this one has lived a good life.


Agrtee, just add oil, maybe a grade heavier or high mileage oil and drive till she gives up the ghost. In the meantime, save up for a replacement.

I drove an old Chevy in college, and it used oil for 4 years; I just kept a case of reycled oil in the trunk.