Rip off or good deal?

My 1997 Ford Explorer,

Edmunds value (in good condition) about $2500, overheated recently. The repair shop diagnosis is that it needs a new water pump and some radiator gasket… estimated $1200 to repair. Called me after they pulled the engine apart to tell me that this car “doesn’t have the engine that should be in this vehicle” so the repair costs are now $1500. I asked them to put it back together using the old parts so I can donate it as is to a charity. They quoted me a price of $700 for labor already expended to patch it back up. They also offered me another option - just give them the title to the vehicle and call it even.

BTW, I’ve decided to buy a new car no matter what happens to this one.

So, what do I do? My choices are:

1. Pay $1500 to fix and continue to drive

2. Pay $700 to put back together

- towing costs to “park” at my house

- still needs to be fixed

- requires my time to donate/sell

= hassle

3. Give them the car and proceed immediately to the nearest new car dealer.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


First, I suggest that you ask them what engine you have and what engine it is “supposed” to be. Ask them why the repair is more expensive, and why the did not get it right in the first place. Take notes and get back to us, or to a Ford representative. You need to take notes so that you understand what the difference is and can explain it to whomever you need to. BTW, is this a Ford dealer, or someone else?

It is possible that they just assumed that it was the usual 6-cyl or 8-cyl truck from 1997. But auto makers do change things during the model year. It might be that you have an engine that was used on less than half of the Explorers with that engine type during 1997.

If you tell us a bit more about the engine, maybe a current or retired mechanic can talk you through this ordeal. I’m not one, but I would like to get the ball rolling for you.

Thanks for the sensible advice! This is not a Ford dealer, but a repair shop who has worked on this car for a couple of years and whom I thought I could trust. I asked why they couldn’t tell that the engine was “different” before tearing it down, and they said it wasn’t until they got everything pulled apart that they discovered the issue. They also said that the alien parts are more expensive.

Bottom line is that I have turned over the title to them in lieu of paying for the repair. I am fully aware that they got an excellent deal, since they can fix the car at low cost for their own use. I traded the remaining value of the car for my own sanity, and am now car shopping. It’s ok - I’m good with this decision, and won’t be going back to this shop. In the words of Jimmy Buffet, breathe in, breathe out, and move on!

Thanks for your response and offer to assist!

Happy Holidays,

Why not pay the $1500 and then sell the car for $2500? That’s a better deal than giving the car away or paying $700 to leave it broken.

why does ever one think goodwill is a junk yard. you will get a better tax brake if car is in good shape.they don,t let you take blue book value unless it runs you get a $100 tax form only. so fix it send it to good will and get a $4000 tax brake you make out like this . you could donite it to a trade school or send it to trade school and the students will fix it for just parts. you will still to buy another car this will take some time to get done then you could sell it. hummmmm they could do other things like new brakes new exhaust. front end work and could keep it for another 5 years. hummmmmmm.