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Should I replace my engine (cracked cooling jacket) or sell the car?

My 04 Honda Accord with 112,000 miles has a crack in the cooling jacket, verified by three different mechanics. It is a 4 cylinder, manual. AND, they also let me know that my air conditioner needed to be replaced.

I bought the car new from the Honda dealer, took it in to the dealer every 5,000 miles for regular service. I did everything right to maintain my car and ensure longevity. All three mechanics that looked at my car, including the mechanic at the dealership, said they’d never seen this before!

I can get a used motor (40,000 miles) installed for about $3,000.

My concern is, I live in the Black Hills of South Dakota in a small remote community. My commute is only about 26 miles into work, but at least half of that I have no mobile service. I’ve lost faith in the brand and am afraid that this is just a sign of things to come. What’s next? My transmission?!

As a single woman who doesn’t tinker with vehicles, I bought the car because Honda’s were supposed to be reliable and run forever.

Should I just cut my losses and buy a different car or take my chances, replace the motor and keep my fingers crossed?

Get a GM vehicle with OnStar. The OnStar system is satellite and you will not lose contact as you do with your cell phone. There will be a monthly fee, but in exchange you get 100% coverage even in remote areas of South Dakota. Equivalent new cars to your Accord would be the Chevy Malibu and Chevy Cruze. If you are looking at used cars, the Cobalt was the compact model replaced by the Cruze in 2011. The Pontiac Vibe will have OnStar and it was last produced in 2010. It is essentially a Toyota Matrix with a different badge. Note that OnStar became a digital service in 2008. Before that, the car might have an old analog system, which would have to be upgraded at your cost.

Sell the car? To whom? Who is going to buy a car with a cracked cooling jacket?

Pay the $3000 for repairs. That’s unfortunate but it’s a lot cheaper than car replacement. If you later feel you want another car, at least your Honda will have real market value.

If you do choose to buy a new car and you want satellite communication, you are not confined to GM. Most manufacturers have already installed OnStar equivalent systems. Hyundai, for example, calls their system Blue Link.

Steve a lot people buy cars that needed work.

But how many live in the Black Hills?

More than you think. If it was me I would put a reman in it with a warranty.

The problem with a used engine is that you never really know what condition that engine is in even if it is a low miles motor. The reman might be a better way of going about this but there’s also the issue of the the “air conditioner needs to be replaced”.
The latter could be pretty expensive depending on what that really means.

A used engine should also get a new timing kit and water pump so that is something else that needs to be figured in if the quoted price does not include it. This could pile up quickly.

OnStar is basically an embedded cell phone in the vehicle. It does not have direct satellite communication to the vehicle to the best of my knowledge. So if you regularly drive in areas without cell coverage you’re not going to benefit from it.

This has been a confusing point for customers since its inception back when it was analog cell phone technology for the vehicle side link. They marketed the name well…

A used engine can be a good solution as long as the used engine is carefully selected and the mechanic(s) doing the swap are experienced and confident in doing this type of work…Mention that you will not tolerate any Check Engine Lights when the job is done…

That is very unusual for a Honda that has been maintained and not abused, but it can happen to any vehicle of any manufacturer. One slips through the cracks sometimes.

I agree that a quality remanufactured engine would be better than a used engine, unless your mechanic knows the history of the vehicle that it is coming from, i.e. a customer who had an accident. Do not fall for one of those JDM (Japanese Domestic Market). These engines do often have only 20-40k miles on them, but in Japan, that translates to lots of hours sitting in traffic. Those engines are often on their last legs.

You could replace the engine (warranty-backed remanufactured engine, if you do), but in your situation, if finances allow, I would get a new car.

I would agree that this sounds unusual. If you have all the records showing you’ve kept up with maintenance per the manual/published recommendations, I would suggest contacting Honda and seeing if they’re willing to help you out. What is the worst that will happen - them saying no?

As an engineer I would think Honda might be interested to forensically investigate why your engine failed in such a manner so they can improve on their product.