Replace Enginge

Should I replace the engine on my 1998 Subaru Forester? I’ve already put in well over $2,000. over the past 5 years. Now the timing belt has snapped and caused a lot of damage. My mechanic is suggesting either doing a lot of things or trying to find an engine to replace. My question is: this repair is already going to be at least $1,200 - should I go any deeper or scrap it and buy a new car?

Whatever you do, you have to learn to maintain your car properly.
That timing belt needed to be replaced at 105k miles or 7.5 years, whichever comes first.
As a result, you have only yourself (and your apparently lax approach to maintenance) to blame.

That being said, consider this:
If you replace the engine with a used engine, what if that engine was maintained as badly as yours was? That would likely lead to the same outcome after investing a lot of money.

Personally, I would suggest that you just buy a new vehicle and begin to use the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule like a Bible. Well-maintained cars have far fewer problems and cost far less in the long run than cars that are not maintained properly.

$2000 over five year is not terrible for any car. That is really good actually if repairs on an older car averaging $400/year.

I would lean towards replacement of vehicle but that all depends on your budget for your next vehicle.

Gee, thanks for your opinion but the scolding is inappropriate. Can anyone else comment without being a jerk?
My concern is getting an engine that will be more trouble - just trying to weigh that against a car loan as this one is paid off.
Thank you for any nice responses.

$2,000 in five years is not much at all, really, especially considering the vehicle is 12 years old. $400 per year is way below average.

I’ve spent over $1,500 on one of my cars this year, and I’m not complaining. The only part of that $1,500 that was “unnecessary” was $250 for a cracked windshield. The rest was normal wear and tear (new tires cost a lot). Next year, however, I don’t expect to spend very much. It averages out.

Ignoring the need for periodic timing belt replacement (a few hundred dollars) is now going to cost you. You could have prevented this by following the recommended maintenance schedule that came with the car. I know, you don’t want to hear that, but it’s the truth. To be honest, you’re lucky the timing belt lasted this long.

Without knowing the overall condition of your car, or its mileage, it’s very hard to make a recommendation. $1,200 might fix your engine, or it might be just the tip of the iceberg. There’s no way to know until a mechanic starts taking the engine apart.

Finding a used engine is a gamble, because you never really know what you’re getting. I do not recommend this approach unless you want to install a used engine and then sell the vehicle right away.

Installing a professionally rebuilt engine is an option, but it won’t be cheap. If you like the car and it’s in good shape this might be the best alternative. A rebuilt engine, while expensive, is still WAY less expensive than a new car.

However, since you don’t like to pay for maintenance and/or repair, perhaps it’s time to consider a newer car, or a brand new car.

Whatever you do, please read and follow the recommended maintenance schedule for whatever vehicle you’re driving. It will save you money in the long run.


While you’re shopping for a new car, make sure anything you might want to buy has a timing CHAIN, rather than a timing belt. Timing chains last the life of the vehicle, and don’t need periodic replacement. This is what you want.

I was looking at something between $20K - $25K if buying something new. I just haven’t thought of a new car - not sure which makes/models are good or worth the money. Very little has actually gone wrong with this car - we had a bad stretch but I think a lot of that (and a lot of the expense) was due to a bad mechanic but now we have a good one. Thanks your reply.

The car has just under 92,000 miles. My understanding was that it was due at 105,000 and my mechanic never suggested doing it sooner. I don’t mind paying for maintenance or repair that has never been the issue. Yes, I should have done this sooner, my fault - I am where I am - but guess I just didn’t know any better.

New Foresters are wonderful as are the RAV4, CRV. Take all for a test drive and see what appeals most to you most for new cars.

If you need truly need AWD the Subaru is superior to RAV4 & CRV in that respect.

Bummer on timing belt, the interval is 105k but also 8 years whichever first.

“Yes, I should have done this sooner, my fault - I am where I am - but guess I just didn’t know any better.”

And, you’re calling me a jerk?

As I said previously, whatever you choose to do regarding this vehicle and its engine, you REALLY need to begin maintaining your vehicle in strict accordance with the mfr’s maintenance schedule.
To say that your mechanic did not advise you properly may make you feel better for the moment, but you are the one paying the bill for the lack of maintenance.

I stand by my previous comments:
Buy a new car.
Maintain it properly.

You’re not the only one. No need to beat yourself up. Most people only look at the mileage requirement and neglect the time element. Happens all the time.

At only 92K it might be worth investing in a professionally rebuilt engine. You’re talking about spending $20K or $25K on a new car. That’s a LOT of money. You could fix your Forester for a fraction of that, and it will likely run for many more years.

Think about it. I know it’s tempting to go for the new car, but do you really want to spend that much money?

Thank you. That is a helpful comment.

The question remains of how many other important maintenance items may also have been skipped on this car.

As just one example, if the trans fluid was not changed every 3 yrs/30k miles (whichever comes first), the trans could well be the next thing to go after the engine is replaced. If the trans fails, that will make the timing belt-related repairs seem cheap by comparison.

The OP needs to assess the overall vehicle and its maintenance over the past 11 years to determine whether it is worth investing the money to fix/replace the engine at this point.