Should I replace the engine in my 1997 Volvo 850 Wagon?

I really liked (past tense) my 1997 Volvo 850GLT wagon. We’ve had it for 11 years and it has been a great car.

However, our daughter was driving it last weekend when the radiator developed a problem, which took out the head gasket, and then took out the head. We won’t go into details here …

Our shop, which we trust, said ~ $5K for a new radiator and re-built engine (95K miles on the rebuilt).

Initially I thought “no way we fix it,” but other than the blown engine and radiator (ha ha ha) the car has been great.

Am I crazy to sink $5K into it?

Thanks in advance!

P.S. The tires are 2 weeks old…

I wouldn’t. I would sell it to a junkyard, take the proceeds and $5k and buy something else.

It depends on many factors, your risk aversion, your budget, etc.
$5K doesn’t buy very much in the way of a new(er) car. But 1997 is getting long in the tooth and may have other issues. IF the rest of the Volvo is solid, $5K is a good bet. If you get it fixed and then decide to sell it, you will probably recover much of the cost of the engine.
As heard many times on CarTalk, have your mechanic go over the whole car and make sure there are not other safety items before you decide.

You didn’t tell us the mileage, but unless it’s really low for 1997 I’d say save the $5,000 and move on.

Your statement “. . .the car has been great” says it all. Has been. Past tense. Enjoy your fond memories and start looking for another car.

I’m usually one to fix what I have, but I have learned over the years that sometimes repairs don’t make sense. What do you mean by 95K miles on the rebuilt? If this engine that your mechanic wants to install was rebuilt and run 95,000 miles, it has gone a considerable distance.
My son has a 2000 Ford Windstar that he purchased from me four years ago. At 150,000 miles, the transmission went out. He was fortunate to be able to have it repaired for $1600. Now, he has engine problems and needs to do repairs to get it to pass emission standards so he can sell the vehicle. Once you replace the engine, what is to keep the transmission from having a problem, the opposite of the problem my son is having?

Willy Loman, the central character in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” made the comment that life is a continual race to see if you can get something paid off before it is ready for the junk yard. Your Volvo has already won that race.

To explain my answer a bit more: we often get questions from folks with older (I consider anything over 10 years ‘older’) cars if they should spend $500 or $1000 on repairs/maintenance. I usually say ‘yes, just stop spending when something major happens, like the tranny or engine going’. Well, this is the definition of major. Your 850 was just entering the high cost period, so having the engine go put it over the edge and into the junkyard, in my opinion.

I wanted to thank everyone for their comments and suggestions. BTW, the car has 180K miles on it. I believe I will look for another Volvo (probably a 2003 or 2004 V70).