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The old question: should I repair or just get another car?

I have a 2000 Mazda Protege DX with almost 149k miles. I bought it when it was marking 142k miles, 3 months ago (I had a OR-CT drive, hence the high number of miles in so little time).
Before buying it, I took it to the mechanic that advised me to do the breaks and new tires (a total of $1k on top of the $1700 I payed for the car). He also said there was a leaking strut and several other minor things that could wait a little. According to the records, the timing belt was replaced at 99k miles.
Well, the timing belt broke while I was drinving in a highway and my engine is no more. I was quoted $2400 to fix it (newer engine - around 72k - with a new timing belt, water pump, seals etc).
Knowing that I’d have to invest on struts somewhat soon and this is a 13-year old car, what would you recommend - fix it or scrap it?


I would say it’s time to get rid of it. It’s been too long to do anything about it but one wonders if there was an installer error that led to the belt breaking.

Are you certain about the engine diagnosis?

You might be able to take the head off and replace the valves if there’s no bottom end damage…there may well not be.

@meanjoe75fan: I was told that this option could burn a quart of oil/week… Does that sound right?

@ok4450: I wonder that, too… but it’s too late, now! :frowning:

Time to say goodbye.

It would have been far cheaper if you had rented a car to do the cross country drive.

@wentwest: Well, my idea was that I would have a car to use here for a while…

Thanks for all the opinions so far, everybody!

The Gates timing belt listing does NOT say this is an interference engine, so no damage should have been done by the belt breaking.

Why do you think the engine was damaged?

Put a new timing belt on it and keep driving. Don’t trust this mechanic.

While I agree with the others to dump it, I would first confirm the engine is toast. On my 86 Riviera, the timing chain went on my 50 mile commute. Had it towed to an out of town repair shop who said the engine was shot. Wanted to know if I wanted to sell it though since he had one that was wrecked. I decided to have it towed home 40 miles and put the chain on myself. With the tow and chain it cost $250 and was good to go for another 100K plus.

I worked with a man who had an older car of interest to some young people. His daughter was driving it one day and it died on her. He took it to a mechanic who told him it was done for, something mechanical down inside the motor, but offered him a nominal sum for it.

He had it towed to his house and was looking at it. He had his wife turn the starter, and the distributor rotor moved. He thought some more, bought a can of gas, and it started and ran fine.

When a mechanic tells you your car is shot, but wants to buy it, RUN!

U have put 2700 into car in 3 months. What does mechanic want to put new timing belt on?

The key question is whether this is an “interference” engine or not? If @texases is correct and it is not an interference engine, then a new timing belt job should be all that is needed. About $600 in most shops.

I had a V6 non interference belt fail on a 2000 Camry. The belt job was done at 90K miles and that belt failed at 125K. In fact, the belt was not the culprit. The new water pump on the 90K job was defective, leaked and took out the belt. It was a setback, but the motor was fine after getting the timing belt replaced. This happened on a trip to Long Island NY so the shop was pricey but did a good job for $750 and the car is running great still at 167K miles.

In this case the belt could have been replaced at 99K miles. But was the water pump replaced too? What about the tensioner? Some folks go cheap on the job and replace the belt only, so there are reasons for a belt to fail prematurely.

If the motor was not burning oil prior to the failure, and it is not an interference motor, then the valves should be OK and there should be no reason for it to start burning oil now. I’d replace the timing belt, the water pump, and the tensioner and see how she runs.

I’m not real sold on the shop who gave you the engine diagnosis and estimate. You should research this more before deciding who does the job. Even if it means towing the car to another shop. 1st question to answer is the interference engine question? You might also consult a Mazda dealer. The guy at the parts counter should be very helpful in this case. If you are back in business for less than $1,000 I think I’d fix it.

My chart shows this engine is interference fit and my vague memory seems to recall replacing a cylinder head on a Protege like this for the same reason.

If there’s any doubt, just crank the engine over. If the starter motor seems to spin the engine over abnormally fast then the intake valves in the cylinder head are bent.

I don’t think cranking a motor with a snapped timing belt is a good idea

I don’t know much about engines…
What I was shown is: the loose timing belt and the top of the engine (open) with one bar that turns and another one that is stuck…