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Repair broken timing belt, or sell?

This weekend I was driving on some local roads near my place and the engine just stopped.

Just got a call from my mechanic saying the timing belt broke, and theres an 80% chance my valves are bent too.

They said:

400 to replace the timing belt

500 to do all the belts and the water pumps

1000 if the valves are bent. Will probably run without getting the valves fixed, but not well.

What options do I have? Should I give it up and get a new car? If I do that, what should I do w/ the car at my mechanic’s place since it doesn’t run?

Its a 93 Honda Accord with 207K miles on it. Any information would help.

If is is an interference engine it will need expensive valve repairs, no matter what the mechanic says. If the mechanic does not know if it is an interference engine, find another mechanic. You can’t half fix or ignoe bent valves! The $900 for timimg belt & water pump plus serpentine belt sound OK.

The $1900 is worth spending if the rest of the car is in good shape, both body and mechanical. My brother has an 87 Accord with over 300,000 miles that still runs great. If the maintenance that resulted in a broken timing belt is typical of how you cared for this car, I would sell it for parts.

Hi Docnick,

Thanks so much for your reply! I really appreciate it.

From what Google tells me, it is an interference engine, so it sounds like I may be out of luck. I’m a bit embarrassed to say I probably did not care for it as well as I should have. It was doing great until a few months ago when it recently developed a transmission fluid leak.

Sounds like its best if I sell it for parts then. If its currently at my mechanic’s place, what do you think the best way to do that would be? Should I get it towed to a junkyard? Just sell it to my mechanic? I almost feel like it’ll cost just as much to tow it to a junkyard!

On the bright side, it’ll be nice to try out public transportation for a little bit.

Thanks again for your help!

And, when you get your next car, do yourself a favor and do the following:

*Read the Owner’s Manual
*Read the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and use that as your Bible for car maintenance.

If you had done these things, you probably would not have been in the situation in which you now find yourself. However, experience is an excellent teacher, and hopefully this experience has taught you something about the necessity of regular maintenance–which is almost always cheaper than repairs.

Sometimes the mechanics know of someone (even themselves) who needs parts, and you will get a better price than from the recycling yard, who typically give you 2-3cents/lb. I totalled my car (9 years old) once, after dropping the collison insurance, and sold it to a body shop who was looking for all the parts that were not damanged! Got about 3 times what the wrecking yard would have paid.

Several years ago, I acquired a 1992 Honda Accord which a repair shop had put the timing belt on wrong and caused the valves to get bent. I had an automotive machine shop to replace the bent valves and do the other cylinder head work. I did all the work of replacing the parts on the engine. The cost for just parts, and the cylinder head repair, came to $700 dollars.
That shop is asking only $500 for a used cylinder head and its installation?! I wonder what they would be paying for a used cylinder head.
If you have the repairs done, the rest of the engine (and car) will still have 207,000 miles. Your (difficult) choice.

Most Honda engines are interference. However, if the mechanic is any good he coudl determine if you already have bent valves or not… and hopefully not bend any more in the process of testing.
essentially he should do a compression test on the cylinders with the belt off. If you have a bent valve, it will leak like a sieve.

The other alternative, but might mean double work if you do have any bent or tipped valves.
repair the belt and set it running and/or do a compression check. you won’t bend all the valves.
So you should see one weak cylinder, two at most.
If the car is runnign rough on all cylinders, the belt is installed incorrectly, not a bent valve problem.

To address your original question. Anyone who might consider buying it will deduct the cost of a timing belt and possible repairs needed to get it to a good running order.

Your real question is do you want it or do you want to buy something else?

It likely bent the valves and it won’t pass emissions if you don’t fix them.

Given the tranny leak and now this I would say dump this car. Its past its design life at 15 years old.

Is the 1000 bucks figure for doing the belts, water pump and repairing the valves? If so, that is a very good price and, in my mind anyways, this is a no brainer. Assuming the car is in otherwise good shape, you are not going to be able to buy an equivalent car for $1000 and, especially since it’s a Honda, it still likely has a lot of life left in it.

Attempting a compression check with the timing belt off won’t help since the valves wouldn’t be moving…you might well make things worse.

The timing belt should be installed and the timing marks properly aligned before checking the compression. Cylinders with bent valves will have zero PSI (or darn close to it).

A Honda Accord, well maintained, has a considerbly longer design life than 15 years. The key phrase is “well maintained”. My brother’s 1987 Accord still runs great, is reliable, and only has some surface rust at over 300,000 miles.

Agree that lesser cars, such as a Cavalier, Kia, or Chevy Aveo have considerably shorter design lives.

Yes the key word is well maintained and locale(salt or not). Also how much money you want to spend keeping it going.

Not sure on Cavalier’s and short life. In college a few friends who got them from decent owners for cheap had theirs running into the 200k-300k range. I think people assume certain cars don’t last and let them go. Anything lasts with enough money into maintenance and reasonable care driving it. One of those college friends Cavaliers(convertible) that is nearing 18 years old is still running around albeit Nantucket.