Repair car before trade in?


I have a 2007 Nissan Versa. The engine broke down suddenly, from what I understand the engine needs replacement. Not knowing much about cars, it has something to do with rods and it has to do with the bottom part of the engine - pseudo quote from the repairman. I know its not tie-rods, It was suggested to me it might have to do with the timing belt going. I guess the engine was ‘knocking’ but we continued to drive the car (in complete ignorance mind you) which led to a busted engine.

Since I do not save my oil receipts, the dealership (and my extended warrenty company) will not honor the warrenty to replace the engine. I am still looking into finding receipts but it does not look good - I tried giving my bank statements but they said no to that.

My car currently has about 47,000 miles on it (we drive 80 miles a day work commute) and according to blue book value, if the engine was replaced it would be worth about $10,000. We currently have a $6,000 loan against the car and it will cost about $2000 - $3000 to get the engine replaced. I am not sure what the car would be worth trade-in if there was no working engine.

Regardless of if I find the oil reciepts or not, I do not want to give patronage to this dealership any longer - through some fact finding, I do not blelieve in their business practices. Add the fact that the car died after 2 years, I dont want to keep the versa any longer and risk more headaches. So the trade-in will be at another dealership and probably a different manufacture as well (looking at the honda fit).

So that comes to my question:

Would it be worth it to me to get the engine replaced now, before the trade in? Or, would it be best to trade the vehicle in as-is? How can I get the best bang for my buck for this vehicle as I get a new car?

I would get the engine replaced/repaired and then keep it one more year before trading. Reason is you almost never get your money out of a repair in an immediate repair situation. As far as warranty is concerned on replacement, the clock starts over (based on the repair, not the manufacturer’s warranty), so keep better records than before if the new engine goes south again.

There is no reason if current warranty is not going to cover this repair to have it done at the dealership that you don’t like. Any competent shop should be able to do this, and certainly any Nissan dealer of your choice can.

I agree with Jayhawkroy. Why would you want to trade it in if you fixed it? Also, have you asked the oil change place if they have records of your changes?

Did the timing belt go first, and cause the engine to trash itself? That should be covered under warranty, regardless of whether you ever changed the oil. On the other hand, if the engine was so low on oil that the bottom end destroyed itself or you threw a connecting rod, you may not have a prayer. To protect yourself, I would bring all the facts to the attention of your state Consumer Protection people, or the AG’s office.

Then I would have an independent (and competent) mechanic examine the engine and see what happened. If it’s clearly a manufacturing defect (such as a bad timing belt dying too young), Nissan owes you a new engine. If it can be laid at the feet of poor maintenance (obviously the oil was never changed), you’re toast.

I think the car is going to be worth near-zero if it doesn’t have a working engine. You’d better bite the bullet and get a used or rebuilt engine put in (don’t buy a brand new one – it’s not worth the cost). Once that’s done, you might as well continue driving the car after sinking that much money into it (if it was your fault). You don’t have to ever go to the dealer again for anything (except in-warranty work).

You “guess” it was knocking? What does that mean? If you could hear the knock, then it was knocking. If you heard nothing, that’s different.

Gates does not list a timing belt for this vehicle, making me think it has a timing chain instead, which is unlikely to have broken.

None of the information in your post explains exactly WHY the engine failed. Was the correct amount of oil in the engine? Receipts or not, paying for an oil change is not the same as checking the oil level.

You’d be amazed at how many people drive away from oil change places with no oil in their engines. Then again, considering your situation maybe you wouldn’t be amazed.

If you’re going to install a new engine I suggest you keep the car and continue driving it. Just make sure you check the oil on a regular basis.

Do you know where you got the oil changed - can you match your bank statements up to all the shops? If you can find the shops, they should have records of the work on file. I don’t think it’d be a big deal to ask them to print copies off for you. Maybe some legwork on your part, but if it’ll save you a few thousand bucks, it’s worth it.

From now on, save your receipts for all the maintenance and repairs you have done. While it’s unfortunate the dealership won’t honor your warranty, without receipts they can’t tell if it’s a manufacturer’s defect or owner neglect.

If receipts are impossible, take Jay’s advice to repair the car and keep it a while longer. For what it’s worth, the Versa seems to be a pretty decent little car. If you’ve liked it otherwise, a replacement engine should solve your problem and leave you with a reliable vehicle.