I have a 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport, which has run perfectly for all of its now 175,000 miles, with one past exception. I had to replace the transmission last spring. The transmission has a three year warranty, of which I have used only 8 months.
However, now my head gasket is leaking. One mechanic initially suggested repairing the head gasket and remachining the head, but then said in this car, chances are the bottom half of the engine would soon go, causing me to double the labor, which is considerable because the minivan is front-wheel drive. He said there was no way to know the condition of the bottom half of the engine, even after taking off the head. He recommended a rebuilt engine from a reputable builder in Los Angeles. Their estimate for the head job was $2400 and for the rebuilt engine (including a rebuilt head) was $5750, with a three-year warranty. Another mechanic I have used can do the head job for $1200 (he is always low; his work is good; but I have never had him do a major job before). There would not be a significant warranty (maybe 3 months). The second mechanic agreed that it was not possible to know the condition of the bottom half of the engine, but thought if I had a problem, I would already be noticing it in performance or noise (I have not).
My choices: (1) consider a new minivan or SUV, which would be very expensive; (2) rebuild the engine, which seems extravagant for a 13 year old car; or (3) do the head job, which might be throwing away money if the bottom engine has gotten water into it. It is possible that the design of the engine is key. Any advice?