To Fix or Not to Fix



I’ve got a 1994 Dodge Intrepid ES which apparently needs to have the engine replaced. I got this car about 5 years ago from my grandfather who took good care of it. It still looks very good outside and in. It hasn’t really had any problems except that the A/C has always been suspect. A while back I noticed that it was running a bit rough. I thought there might be a manfold leak and so I took off the upper intake manifold plenum they have on these cars to have a look. One of the manifold bolts was loose because the threads in the aluminum plenum were worn. I fixed the thread problem with a heli-coil thread insert and put it back together. When I started it up, there was a knocking sound coming from the engine, as if something was in one of the cylinders. I surmised that I must have knocked something into the motor while I was working on it. I snaked a long, skinny magnet down the different spark plug holes and finally determined, after pulling out several small pieces of metal with the magnet, which the offending cylinder was. I spoke with a few local mechanics who indicated that the cylinder walls, the piston and the valves were all damaged. The quote for an engine was $2100 for a used one from the salvage yard and anywhere from $3500 to $6000 for a remanufactured job. I’m wondering if anyone has any advice on whether it’s worth it. The rest of the car is in as good of shape as a car with 175,000 miles on it could be. Would spending $2100 for a used, yet newer, motor make my Intrepid a better car than what I could get for the same money? I’m guessing I could get a motor with 80,000-90,000 miles on it. (It seems that if I wanted something Japanese for the same money, I could land myself a 1991 Honda Accord or something with fewer options and over 200,000 miles.)

Thanks for any help,



Did all these mechanics inspect the car, or did you just tell them the story and they surmised that the engine is severly damaged? Now that you have fished the metal out-does the engine still knock or make stange noises? I’m guessing you’re a younger person, so you might be able to save some money here and learn a little about your motor in the process if you want to take a chance and try and repair the damaged motor. Nothing to lose if it’s already damaged. You could pull the head off and see if it’s just the valves that are damaged and take the head to a machine shop to fix the valves. Very inexpensive if you do all this yourself.

The car itself is worth about $1500, or the cost of a used motor. This is your decision if it’s worth it. Can you get a better car for $2,000? Probably not. If you can find an engine used with low miles I might go for it, but the only thing that bothers me is the transmission-how much life is left in that…Tough call.


Sell the Intrepid for a few dollars and buy a 97-01 Chevy Lumina with around 100k miles on it for $2500 or less. Get one with the 3.1 liter engine, very reliable cars. Don’t get a 17 year old Accord.


That’s a pretty tall order for $2500. The book values on the 1999-2001 Luminas are still holding above that. The older ones he can afford, but they’ll likely have high miles. Still worth trying for though if he just needs regular transportation.


My vote,no fix



I agree with Dave G… Take it to a mechanic and see what they say after looking at it. See if they can cheap shot it; clean out the offending cylinder and run with it until the engine completely dies. Hey with 175k and some engine damage already you can’t make the situation worse. Remember; nothing ventured, nothing gained.


No they regularly go for that amount in that price range, I watch such things.


Thanks for all of your advice. JD