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Should I junk this car?

Car has 245,000 miles on it. Check engine light came on recently and the mechanic said there is a misfire in one of the cylinders with a compression of only 60 and should be 120. He said it could cost up to $2000 depending on what’s wrong. I told him not to fix it. I drove it for a week and it stalled on me. I had to have it towed home. I recharged the battery and it started right up, but running rough. I took it to get the battery checked and it needed a new battery. I had a auto store replace it. It had a hard time starting after replacing the battery, but I could drive it if I kept my foot on the gas. Well, I got about 2 blocks from the store and it stalled. After restarting it every time I got to a stop sign, it finally died again and white smoke was coming from the engine. I called a few mechanically inclined people and they said to call the store back and give them hell. That they should pay for my tow and fix whatever problem I have. I told the guy putting my battery in everything that was wrong with it, so I don’t know if I have any recourse with them. They said to call them out anyway since I was able to drive it there, but not home. I have no idea what to do at this point.

Let me see if I have this straight. Your car had a mis-fire, low compression on at least 1 cylinder, and would stall. Battery went bad, you had it replaced. Still had stalling and rough running issues. Give the store hell? For what? Replacing the battery that you asked them to, on a car that ran badly? Did you think it would cause the car to run better? Not the stores fault. Did the store tell you a battery would fix the problems. Not likely as a battery would not fix a compassion issue. Then and only then do you have a chance. And even then only on a refund for the battery. Sounds like your friends that say to call them and give them hell, have no clue. Calling them will accomplish nothing. And finally to answer the first question. Yes I would junk it. Unless this car is something really special. With low compression issues and now blowing white smoke I would say it’s toast.


Hmmm…Let’s see…the OP wants us to diagnose, via cyberspace, a problem with his mystery vehicle with an unknown maintenance history.
And, he thinks that a new battery should cure all of this mystery vehicle’s many ills?
Did I interpret that correctly?


Junk it…it will get worst over time . At 245,000 k miles the internal part of your engine are probably worned out.

That makes perfect sense, actually. After 245,000,000 miles, I think that any engine would be “worned out”.


End of the road; it’s time to say goodbye!

A very knowledgeable mechanic could perhaps find a used engine and get additional life out of this vehicle and install it himself. You are not in that league. from what you tell us.

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Ok thanks everyone, got the responses I expected. It’s a 2003 Santa Fe by the way. I didn’t think the auto parts store should pay for anything either.

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Sorry I cannot resist. This could very well be a “compassion issue”. Kind of like not being able to put down a beloved pet even when they are old, sick, and in pain even when there is no hope for recovery. None of us are immune to typos and spell check. LOL.

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Now that we know it is not a Porsche 356 Speedster or something equally as desirable, I suggest getting rid of it.

You maybe have multiple issues due to not keeping up on repairs and maintenance. At this point though I wouldn’t junk it without a little more diagnosis. They should be able to tell if its valves or rings or neither. Valves or rings, I would not fix it unless you want to put a used engine in and drive it another 100,000. I will say though that I’ve gone 4-500,000 miles and never had a valve or compression problem so I suspect maybe lack of maintenance.

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At 60 PSI it’s likely a cylinder bore problem and that means the end of the road.

As for those “few mechanically minded people” I would suggest not ever listening to them about any future automotive issues.

“They said to call them out anyway since I was able to drive it there, but not home”.

I don’t normally get into name calling so I will just say politely that they are severely misguided. Very severely…


At 250K, unless there’s something special about the vehicle to you, or it is otherwise in pristine like new showroom condition, with the symptoms you got there probably best bet for your wallet is to turn it over to whoever wants it, which the only taker on that may be the local shredding yard. You’ll still get a little cash even from the shredder, for the metal melt-down & used parts value.

If you wanted to keep on keep on driving the vehicle, such a thing is possible. Since it is a 2003 ; i.e. fairly recent vintage, there’s a good chance a used engine could be found and installed. You might ask your shop to check with the junkyard network for an engine from the same model year but with less than 150K on the clock, that was involved in a rear ender accident and totaled. An engine from a wrecked car like that would probably still be perfectly good.

A used engine install, parts and labor from the reports we seem to get here seems to run anywhere $2500 to $6000. If you decide to go that route, the biggest difficulty seems to be engine computer compatibility problems. Be sure to purchase the engine computer along with the engine from the wrecked car.

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George, if OP purchased the correct engine . . . same model year, identical engine, etc . . . I see no need to install the junkyard pcm

In fact, an incorrect pcm . . . meaning wrong part number for the year, for example . . . might cause a smog inspection failure

I just checked craigslist for 2003 Santa Fes for sales, and the most expensive one, the guy is asking $3500. Hyundais don’t hold their value, like Honda or Toyota.

Yes, junk the car. It was junk yesterday. There are people out there who think machinery never wears out if you keep replacing parts. That can be true but after awhile you have a $100,000 car that breaks down every month. You can put in a good engine but all the parts have 250,000 miles on them. Your limited knowledge suggest that you should buy the newest car your budget can afford. Buy it from a dealer who will give you a good warranty. Stay away from 50-50 warranties at any dealer and never buy from private party sales where you buy “as is”.

I’ve had good experiences buying from private party, as well as dealers

I don’t believe it’s fair to make blanket statements, condemning either dealers or private party sellers

Good deals can be had from both

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Doesn’t seem to make sense to me. Car repair shops would be out of business if we don’t replace parts.[quote=“patgurr, post:14, topic:104622”]
Your limited knowledge suggest that you should buy the newest car your budget can afford

It doesn’t take much knowledge to keep a car maintained and do the recommended maintenance. Suggesting to keep buying new or the “newest” cars (whatever that means). Even the “newest” car can have problems. Most of the time there is a negative reason why people get rid of their late model cars. I have purchased several used cars form private parties. As long as you do your research and inspection, there is no reason to shy away from it.


Many used vehicles from used vehicle dealers are sold As-Is. A 50/50 warranty is better than no warranty.

Yes to the first OP question. Time to give up.

No blanket statement intended – just solid advise directed only to the OP.

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The problem with a 50-50 warranty is the dealer has to make the repairs. Then for a $200 repair they show you an invoice for $400. There is a scam a minute out there. The days of a handshake and a fair deal are mostly behind us.