I have a 97 Honda; the main engine pulley just broke, and in doing so, damaged the crankshaft. My mechanic says they can mickey mouse it for about $1500, or replace the engine for $2500. It has a rebuilt transmission, still passes California emissions tests, and no rust. Hondas of any age here start at $3000. On the other hand, we recently had to replace one front axle - cheap, but is there a point at which metal fatigue begins to set in? My mechanic and friends I’ve talked to recommend just fixing it if I like the car. Any advice?
If the pulley for the crankshaft broke and the timing belt wasn’t disturbed, I’d replace the timing belt/water pump and then weld the pulley onto the crankshaft. And then drive 'til it dies.
In CA most car bodies hold up with no rust for a long time. The '97 Civic is so solid a car you could likely run it for many more years. Things like wiring and window hardware hold up well in old Honda’s, so I’d fix it.
Replace the engine for $2,500 with what? A used engine, rebuilt engine, or what? I would fix what you have over a used engine. A good remanufactured engine should last a long time, but not sure you could get one installed for $2,500.
If you have the “Mickey Mouse” fix, which is what I would do, be sure to replace the timing belt, balance shaft belt, crankshaft oil seal and the water pump as you may never get to do these again after the fix, especially if it involves permanently welding the pulley back on. With all that done, you will be good for at least 7 years or 105k miles. $1500 should cover all that.
Thank you all for the good advice! Click and Clack were right - their audience is a deep well of knowledge.