CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Replace engine or cut losses?

Our 2005 Mini convertible has just over 105k miles on it and we burnt up the engine when it overheated and Wifey continued to drive it home. We were quoted $6100 for a brand new engine (installed) or $3800 for a used high mile engine. We’re not considering the latter but we still have a few payments and I want to know how I go about placing a value on a vehicle sans engine and if there’s a market. I am concerned with dumping more money into a car at the end of it’s life. Your advice is appreciated.

The value of a car with a dead motor is very low. It is now a mechanic special. I think your best option is to get a used engine in the car and see how it goes. If you aren’t sure about the car with the used motor, then trade it in for another car.

The mini engine compartment is extremely tightly packed. U remove bumper, grill, front cross bracing to access anything down low on motor. How, any used mini escaped damaging motor during “incident” that caused car to be totaled is questionable. Unless it got hit in rear? I would be surprised to even find a good used motor. Maybe they are out there?

Since you still owe money, try to find a used engine. A car that was totaled in a rear or side accident might be a good candidate as a donor.

What about the working convertible top, tires, and chassis? All of those things are expensive as heck individually. The shop offered $1000 for the car as is but that seems really low.

Do your own internet search for a used engine, see what you can come up with…As it stands now, your car has little value…If the used engine install works out, you are back in business…If not, you should at least have a drivable car to sell or trade in…On most cars, this project would not be worth the effort…But a 2005 Mini convertible has enough value so it’s worth fixing…It would be worth the effort to find a Mini dealership mechanic who does “side-jobs” at home…When looking for a replacement engine, it’s always best to use the exact same year donor car…But if you can locate an expert Mini mechanic, he will know which engine models are compatible with your car… Projects like this can get sideways quickly, so do your homework…

If you want my opinion, if you owe money on it, you shouldn’t consider a 2005 car with 105,000 miles to be at the end of its life. Instead, you should be assuming that you’ll need to keep this car for a while to try to get ahead of the game.

http://www.car-part.com/

In eBays search window, type Mini-Cooper engine. The choices are many…Read the fine print…
Here is a representative example…For $3800, not only do you get an engine and transmission but you get the car it’s in too! Here is an engine only for $1850 + about $275 shipping…

I agree that the value of an engineless car to the market is low. On the other hand, it used to be that the body and integrity of a car was the irreplaceable part. Everything else could be swapped out. I have a friend who bought a new or remanufactured Mazda engine from Advance Auto Parts The other chains may offer this, too, and maybe MINI engines are available through this route.

I’ve been burned a time or two with MCs on eBay so I’m not sure I trust that avenue. It seems the popular consensus, however, is to keep it on the road which kind of surprises me. Not sure if I should attribute that to the nature of the forum (never-say-die, anything can be fixed) or if it’s truly the prudent choice to patch it up. At the very least, it has given me pause.

I too would avoid EBay, but have you priced a rebuilt?
Short of that, I’d try a used engine. The value of your car is almost zip without an operating engine. No potential buyer can assess anything else about the car without it operating. It would be a total. complete, absolute crap-shoot.

The car is worth $7500 in decent operating condition…As a parts car, private sale, you would be very lucky to get $1500 for it…That’s a $6000 spread, enough to warrant replacing the engine if you can keep the costs down…Engines are available for as little as $1500 (and up)… As far as eBay engines, if you stick with a seller with a near perfect feedback score (get in there and READ the sellers recent feedback comments) you can be pretty sure the engine is being accurately described…The big dealers are not going to risk their reputation by selling junk…Negative feedback is the kiss of death to them…