I have a 2004 hyundai santa fe 3.5L with about 123k mi on it. It went kaput and is currently inoperable, and I’ve been told the most economical choice to get it running again would be to completely replace the engine.
I was supposed to drive it from Austin, Texas where I went to grad school, to DC where I now live. In May, the night before the big move (I think) the timing belt went out. So the car is in Texas, I am not. I need a car and I have to something with the one I have.
About 3 weeks after I bought it the engine light when on. The code read as a cylinder 2 issue. It already had 107k miles on it so I replaced the timing belt kit when I bought it (3 yrs ago). My buddy did the work and he thought the code was being thrown by faulty coil, which we replaced, in addition to the spark plugs. Since then I’ve replaced tires, AC, battery, windshield wipers and brakes as well. It’s added up to a lot, a big investment. And the engine light has just been on and off the whole three years, despite the fact that car has run fine. There were no warning noises or issues before it just wouldn’t start that night.
When I had my car diagnosed back in May after the engine failed, I was told that there was probably an issue with the 2nd cylinder itself in terms of not firing, or having low pressure (sorry, I know nothing about cars so my second-hand descriptions are probably confusing). I was told a shop could run tests, but by the time they opened everything up to try to figure out whether the problem was one of a few options and fixed it, it would be very expensive and didn’t make sense. It would make more sense to just replace the engine.
I was told I had two choices: (1) pay to replace the engine (maybe $2300 at cheapest) and (2) sell it as (get maybe $800 at best).
I need a car for work to get to my client’s homes, and we only have max $5k to buy one. My fear is with that much money we will be forced to buy another older used car that might just have all new old-used-car problems (and no new tires, or AC, or wipers or other things I’ve already fixed on this one). However, replacing an engine is also expensive, and since it will be a used engine, most likely ALSO with 110k+ miles on it, it also comes with a big risk.
So basically my question is: when you’re a starving recently graduated-grad student does it make more sense to replace an engine or buy a new (old) car?
Any thoughts and advice greatly appreciated!