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To repair or replace

We currently have a 1999 ford explorer V6 4.0L engine w/~170k miles on it. Recently the timing chain has broken and we were quoted $4500 to rebuild the engine (with parts and labor). It has new brakes all around, new ball joints, and tie rod ends. Transmission is original. Is it better to put the work into the car, or take that money ($5-10k)and invest into another used SUV?

First of all I would question why they need to rebuild it? Unless it is an interference engine, all they should have to do is replace the chain and the gears for maybe $500. I had a chain go in a Riviera and the place it was towed to said the same thing-the engine was shot. I towed it home and put a chain and gears in for $150 and had it going that weekend. It was good for another 150K.

If it does need an engine, do not let them rebuild it. Either put a rebuilt long block in, or a good used engine. I just do not believe a garage mechanic will do as good a job at rebuilding as you would get from a good rebuilder.

So after doing the new math, the question is whether or not you will keep it long enough to get your money out of the repair or not. If you’ll still drive it for another 3-4 years, then maybe, but might want to calculate in a trans overhaul too. On the other hand, a non-working vehicle will be worth not much so figure what it would be worth with an engine in it on a trade or private sale. A new engine though will not add to the normal value and to some people might cause a concern-why did the engine go, was it neglect, is the new engine any good, and so on.

First thing though is make certain the engine is trashed.

Your best bet will be to have a trusted mechanic look over the car and determine if it is basically solid, as in there are no other serious problems lurking such as structural rust or many other potential repairs. If the car checks out okay, you should get a quote for installing a used engine from a salvage yard. This should end up being much cheaper than rebuilding your current engine, probably saving you $2k or so. It’s not going to be difficult to find a good 4.0L in a salvage yard. They are very common.

REPLACE vehicle or get a used engine from a wreck installed. Ford Explorers are very popular then so auto recylcing yards are full of engines.

Shop around $4500 is really excessive on a 12 yr old vehicle that is beyond common.

$4500 must be for a remanufactured engine.
At that price it better be.
it better be a FORD reman which retatils at $3422 with a 3yr-100k warranty.

( 3422 plus oil, coolant, gaskets, plugs, stat, and labor )

Shop around for a good used one too, a great option for a truck that age.