Timing belt blues

I have an 01 subaru impreza with 185000 miles. The timing belt broke while I was driving. I gave the mechanic five-hundred for parts and labor but then he told me the engine would need to be pulled to fixed damaged head and valves. He offered me six hundred dollars for it, which is like getting a hundred for it after the five I just gave him. Does anyone think this is a good deal? Should I spend another 1600 to fix it or quit while I’m behind?

You might consider donating the car for a tax write off. Basically the valves and several pistons collided when the belt broke and the engine locked up. The $500 would not even cover the replacement of the belt, water pump, and tensioner before the breaking belt event.

At this point you need to consider the book value of the car if it were in normal running condition. This value depends on the mileage and condition of the paint, body, and interior. With 185K miles and 12 years old I don’t thing there is a lot of value left in the car. If the cost of the repair exceeds the value of the car, take a few hundred for it as is - and move on to your next car. If the repair costs comes in at about 1/2 of the value of the car then I’d likely fix it. You can find the value of the car on several web sites, I like the “true market value” that you can find on the Edmunds.com site.

Are you saying they charged you $500 to figure out that this is an interference engine, and that major work was needed? We could have done that for free - I’d want most of my $500 back (say $400, $100 for diagnosis), and then see what they offer you. If not enough (you’ll need to call around and see what others might pay to come take it away), then sell it to somebody else.

As for spending the $1,600, that’d be tough for me to do. Only if that’s all the money I had, and only if I knew the shop could do the work right for that amount of money, might I consider it.

Why would anyone pay a mechanic BEFORE the work was done? This is not rocket science. It takes no more than $100 labor to diagnose the failed belt and destroyed engine (the destroyed engine part is automatic, no diagnosis needed)…I would ask that $400 be returned to you and have the car towed to your home and list it on craigslist as a parts car / towaway. It’s worth $600-$1000 depending …

Out of curiosity, how many miles and years were on this timing belt?

I’m assuming here that the mechanic was paid for replacing the timing belt; which he did. After replacing it THEN he discovers the engine is damaged. If so, this is a bad move on the mechanic’s part because any engine damage can be determined without replacing anything. If the mechanic is incompetent enough that it required his running up a big bill to tell you that your engine is damaged then I sure wouldn’t trust him to do the repairs.

If I were in your shoes would I sell it to him for 600 bucks? No; just based on the fact that he ran up a pointless bill to tell you the obvious.

Don’t get mad, get even. Anyone who has followed this site or is in the auto repair business should certainly know about the Gates belt interference engine chart at www.gates.com.

With an interference type engine, a ruined engine is a given at any speed above idle when the belt breaks. Your mechanic should have known this.

You can lodge concerns with your mechanic on Angie’s List and with the BBB.