The timing belt broke on my 2000 Plymouth Neon. As I understand it there is possibility that in breaking the timing belt may have damaged some of the valves in the engine. The engine damage cannot be assessed until the timing belt is replaced. A belt repair would cost $300. If the engine is damaged, repairing it could cost $2,000 to $3,000 by rough estimates.
How likely is it that the valves have been damaged?
More back story:
Last week I brought the car into my local trusted mechanic for a repair, because I heard a belt making a noise. I was told that both the a/c and alternator belts needed repairs, and I had new front tires put on because they were wearing down. Last evening the car stopped running while diving on the interstate. After costing over to the shoulder and waiting for 1.5 hours in 90 degree heat for a tow truck, I had the car towed back to the repair shop and dropped the keys through the overnigh slot. I figured the alternator belt broke and was either faulty or improperly installed, so I trusted the mechanic to repair it for free. It turns out that the timing belt broke, and this is a repair not performed by this shop. (They focus on tires, oil, breaks, a/c, and other more moderate repairs). Because they do not work on timing belts and it is not easily visible, they never inspected it when replacing the other belts. This was something I was not aware of; I figured all the belts were in good condition after last weeks repairs. As I mentioned previously, repairs could cost $300 to $3,000, depending on the severity of the damage. If the belt did not break and possible damage the engine, the car would be worth about $1,400 tade-in or $3,000 dealer retail. Thus for the potential cost of the $3,000 repair, I could be the exact same make, model, and mileage (91,000 miles) car. However if I were to buy another car, I would probably buy an newer used car for around $10,000 to $15,000.
Is it worth $300 to see if the engine is damaged and needs additional more costly repairs?
Is it worth paying for repairs that equal the used purchase price of the vehicle?
I would appreciate thougtful opinions the aid me in this stressful time.