Author Topic: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?  (Read 1435 times)

abbeydabbey

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Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« on: February 25, 2021, 11:31:45 AM »
Alright! I'm very new to MMM and forums, and I really need some advice!

I got out of college last year and paid off all of my student debt last month. Debt free, woo! I have a boyfriend of one year who is close to being debt free and also wants to marry me soon, woo!

He has a 2010 Subaru Forester with 130,000 miles. He borrowed money for it 4 years ago and has about $500 left to pay on the loan, woo!

So here's the bad news: The Subaru blew its engine a few months ago. We aren’t really sure how this happened. He got an oil change about 2 months prior to destroying the engine. There was no burning of oil, no leaking of oil, and no “check engine” light on until it was too late. The only place in town that will work on a Subaru is the Subaru dealer, of course. They quoted $9000 to replace the engine. The car is only worth $7500! We are considering replacing the engine ourselves, with the help of my dad (who I would feel pretty guilty asking to help… he is older, already works 60 hours a week, and works on his own vehicles on the weekends). A refurbished engine would cost $4000 or so. Shipping, parts, and hoses would be an estimated $2000 or so, if everything goes smoothly. It would still cost around $6000 to replace it ourselves, and we would be left with a car with a refurbished engine worth about $7500 that no shop in town, except the dealer, can work on…

Our other option would be to get a different, low mileage, used car. He is a photographer who regularly hauls heavy equipment cross country, so he needs something reliable and spacious. I don’t know if he would need a 4 cylinder or a 6 cylinder. He thinks his 4 cylinder may have burned out because he was hauling such heavy equipment and might need to upgrade to a 6 cylinder. We have been looking into 2010 Toyota Highlanders as an option. They are the highest rated midsized SUV from that year. They would have the kind of cargo room and power he would need to haul equipment. A lower mileage 2010 Toyota Highlander costs about $10k-12k. This is obviously more than the price of replacing an engine, but we are worried about replacing the engine in the Subaru. We have heard cars never run the same after you replace an engine and they are more difficult to resale. We have also heard refurbished engines are somewhat of a gamble.

What should we do? Should we replace the Subaru engine? Should we wash our hands of the Subaru and sell it for parts? Should we try and part it out ourselves to make some extra money? Should we buy a Toyota? Should we buy something different? Does anyone have experience with a car with a replaced engine? Would a 6 cylinder be a better option than a 4 cylinder if the vehicle is used for pretty constant hauling?

Car Jack

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2021, 11:45:03 AM »
If you can find a junkyard engine from the same year Forester, buy that.  Don't replace hoses or anything else unless they are indeed ready to replace.  You can buy an engine hoist cheap from someplace like Harbor Freight and when you're done with it, sell it on Craigslist.

Now, you will have to have some mechanical aptitude and be unafraid to just try stuff.  An engine swap like this with a full engine is not difficult and is the cheapest way to go.

On the value of the car with a replaced engine, who would know anyways?  The VIN of the car is nowhere on Subaru engines.  You'll see EJ25 and that's about it.

The other way to go is to put the car on Craigslist stating that something is wrong with the engine.  You don't know that the engine is "blown".  Not that I know what that means....and I've built engines.  What exactly is wrong with the engine?  I'm going to take a wild, wild guess and say that the timing belt has never been replaced and judging by the year of the vehicle is long overdue.  That would bend all the valves at a minimum, meaning that indeed the engine needs to be replaced.  There are plenty of Subaru enthusiasts out there who think nothing of swapping an engine and using the bad one for parts that are still good.  In any case, this would be the easiest thing on your end.

I very much doubt that your boyfriend's equipment was too much for the Subaru.  Likely lack of maintenance stated in the warranty and maintenance booklet or online.  105k miles or 105 months, whichever comes first.

abbeydabbey

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2021, 12:16:12 PM »
I don't know more than what the dealership told him. They just told him his engine was "blown." He was completely out of oil. We are a little flabbergasted as to how it dried up, like I said, he had a oil change not too long before it broke down and there was no burning or dripping.

I think another good option would be to take it somewhere other than the dealer to get some diagnostics done on it. I will make sure they check the timing belt, I didn't even think of that! I have just recently started working on my own car. I am still very, very new to maintenance and repairs, but I am willing to learn if it means not paying someone else to do it.

It is good to know that a Subaru can handle some hauling. You wouldn't think photography would mean heavy equipment, but those light stands are HEAVY!


therethere

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2021, 12:32:32 PM »
We tow thousands of miles a year with our Subaru, so it's definitely not that. You had no oil? That will certainly blow an engine. According to my mechanic friend, Subaru's won't throw any low oil or check engine lights before the engine is toast. My outback burns about a quart of oil every 1k miles and has as long as I've owned it. I've almost run without oil once or twice when I didn't check it between oil changes.

I should also add. My Subaru is a money pit. In the 8 years and 70k miles I've had it I have put more into it than I bought it for. And that's with a mechanic doing free labor and buying the parts with at dealer cost. I plan to dump mine in a few months since it won't pass emissions (needs a cat or two). 150k miles. We've had 2 persistent issues that even Subaru master tech's can't figure out. I've also been told quality went downhill with the new generation (2010/2011). The 2010 Outbacks are supposed to be f-ed up with lots of random problems. Not sure if that carries over to the Foresters. Needless to say, the engine won't be the last of your repairs!

Don't expect to get much for a car with a bad engine. Our 2nd car had an engine knock, it only had 100k miles and I couldn't get anyone to pay me more than $600 for it. You're just going to get mechanics lowballing you and telling you it's trash. It's not a fun process....

CRV's are suprisingly roomy, and have a nice boxy interior that can fit a bunch of stuff. Take stock of the weight of all the photography equipment, you'd probably be able to get away with a CRV. I'd recommend that for a replacement. You should be able to find one with <100k miles for under 10k. Or at least you could last year before all the stimulus money raised all the used car prices!
« Last Edit: February 25, 2021, 02:13:47 PM by therethere »

DeniseNJ

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2021, 01:05:24 PM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7U2pvTF7AM
Apparently there was a recall. She if yours qualifies for the recall.

Tester

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2021, 01:25:42 PM »
Minivan? I bought a 2009 honda oddysey three years ago, it had 142k miles.
Now it has 183k.
Cost 9k out of the door.
Replacing timing belt, rollers, water pump, 1500.
Replacing some suspension parts plus streering parts after some time, 1300.
Replacing front brake rotors, 400.
New tires, 800,
Replacing some electronic board, 1300.
Replacing driver door actuator, 40 usd (did it myself).


So quite costly, but I am really pleased with the fact that other things did not need replacing.

Most of the things I listed are consumables- meaning you need to replace them after some time/miles.

I think it can tow 1500 pounds, but I read that I would have to add a transmission radiator if I want to tow with it.

Space inside, really good.

If a minivan is not working for you, go for a smaller suv to save some money?
Add up all the equipment weigth and go from there.

norajean

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2021, 01:53:40 PM »
Dump it! Get a cheap replacement.

abbeydabbey

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2021, 02:13:02 PM »
My gut was kind of telling me to dump it to, that we were going to throw a lot more money into it than getting a cheap replacement, but I am still unsure!

A Toyota Rav-4 is about $6000 for one that's fairly new and in a good shape, so I have been looking into that as a good long term option.

Is there any specific reason you say to dump it? Have you had a bad experience with trying to work on Subarus or replacing motors?

therethere

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2021, 02:14:52 PM »
My gut was kind of telling me to dump it to, that we were going to throw a lot more money into it than getting a cheap replacement, but I am still unsure!

A Toyota Rav-4 is about $6000 for one that's fairly new and in a good shape, so I have been looking into that as a good long term option.

Is there any specific reason you say to dump it? Have you had a bad experience with trying to work on Subarus or replacing motors?


I just modified my post above. My Subie is and always has been a money pit. Rav4 or CRV would be my recommendation. I'm surprised you can find one for only 6k to be honest.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2021, 02:30:10 PM »
I'm not sure what is meant by "hauling". Do you mean stuffing the back full of stuff or do you mean pulling a box trailer? If you are simply stuffing the car with 800# of stuff, then no, you don't need a $50k SUV with a six-cylinder engine. The minivan suggestions are spot-on, but before paying money for leather 3rd row seats that are never used, consider off-lease cargo vans like the Nissan NV200 ($24k brand new) or Ram Promaster ($26k brand new). You'd buy something like a 2018 or 2019 model for maybe 60% of the new price.

I would not drop six grand into an 11 year old car. Find your local auto auction and run it through.






Tester

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2021, 02:38:56 PM »
I'm not sure what is meant by "hauling". Do you mean stuffing the back full of stuff or do you mean pulling a box trailer? If you are simply stuffing the car with 800# of stuff, then no, you don't need a $50k SUV with a six-cylinder engine. The minivan suggestions are spot-on, but before paying money for leather 3rd row seats that are never used, consider off-lease cargo vans like the Nissan NV200 ($24k brand new) or Ram Promaster ($26k brand new). You'd buy something like a 2018 or 2019 model for maybe 60% of the new price.

I would not drop six grand into an 11 year old car. Find your local auto auction and run it through.

Also look into ford transit connect, even more volume as they are taller than the minivans.
My next minivan might be a ford transit connect.

Ecky

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2021, 07:37:35 PM »
Were it mine, I'd get a junkyard engine. I've typically owned Hondas, and you can find most any Honda engine you could want in a junkyard for $500 or less. I'd be shocked if you couldn't find better than $4,000 for your Subaru's engine.

seemsright

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2021, 08:04:15 PM »
I have a '12 Outback it is a great car for our life. But I will never own another one. It is a money pit. I do not even have '90k miles on it yet and it has needed a crap ton of work. And I always have to get my tires fixed the damn car always has a light on for something. Needs oil, needs air, needs this or needs that.

 

chemistk

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2021, 06:52:11 AM »
Yeah this is one of those times where it's better to just wash your hands of it and get something that needs less work.

DIY engine replacement can definitely be done, is not nearly as daunting as it sounds, and can be a great learning experience. If that reassurance really speaks to you, then absolutely look into a junkyard engine. You'll probably have to get the junker out yourself so you're doing 50% more work, but it's something you can really build off of for future willingness to work on complex projects like major engine repair.

But the biggest downside is that you aren't guaranteed that the replacement is going to go 100% correctly, or that you won't encounter more problems down the road. And if you run into issues during the replacement, the cost could climb higher than it's worth for your time and energy.

I'll both agree and disagree with Car Jack as to how to offload it - I really try and be honest with people when selling stuff online and nothing (because it's happened to me) is worse than a seller omitting or withholding information from buyers. I'd call your local junkyards and see how much they're willing to offer for it, then price it a few hundred over that but low enough that a knowledgeable buyer could still save money by doing the engine repair/replacement themselves. Be forthcoming and say that the engine is toast because it ran dry of oil, you won't get as much money for it but I think that tradeoff is absolutely worth it to not stick some unaware buyer with a moneypit.

Then, go get a reasonable used hatchback, minivan, or (small) suv.

fdubz

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2021, 07:27:12 AM »
Chiming in as someone who had a bad experience with an (expensive, but not as expensive as yours) engine replacement.  Dump that sucker. 

And I second the recommendations for a CRV.  I always have my back seats completely laid down and it's very roomy.

thesis

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2021, 08:11:13 AM »
That's a lot from the dealership - forget that. But I dunno, $4k seems reasonable for a rebuilt engine. Are you in a small town? That's absurd to me that nobody else would do the work. Granted, for something as important as a rebuild, you want it to be done by a reputable and certified shop.

I hate seeing good cars get scrapped, but the key there is "good" cars. I don't know what the reputation of that year of Forester is. There are so many factors that affect whether a car is worth putting money into, it's difficult to find the optimal route. I'd say, choose the option that gives you the greatest peace of mind and makes reasonable financial sense. Personally, I do most of the work on my car but I draw the line on internal engine/transmission stuff. Of course, I'm also the sort of guy who would prefer to have the engine rebuilt, but that's if I'm familiar with the rest of the vehicle and know it's good.

If you don't have any experience working on cars, I would not recommend swapping the engine yourself, even with help. It can be done, but there's a lot that can go wrong along the way, and you have to be ready for that financially and emotionally.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2021, 08:44:12 AM »
I'm not sure what is meant by "hauling". Do you mean stuffing the back full of stuff or do you mean pulling a box trailer? If you are simply stuffing the car with 800# of stuff, then no, you don't need a $50k SUV with a six-cylinder engine. The minivan suggestions are spot-on, but before paying money for leather 3rd row seats that are never used, consider off-lease cargo vans like the Nissan NV200 ($24k brand new) or Ram Promaster ($26k brand new). You'd buy something like a 2018 or 2019 model for maybe 60% of the new price.

I would not drop six grand into an 11 year old car. Find your local auto auction and run it through.

Also look into ford transit connect, even more volume as they are taller than the minivans.
My next minivan might be a ford transit connect.

Glancing at the reviews / comments, both the Transit and the NV200 are known for transmission issues.

sonofsven

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2021, 09:30:48 AM »
I like the big Nissan vans but the NV200 has a CVT transmission which apparently is disliked by everyone.
The only mini van I know of that is AWD is the Toyota Sienna, if that's a concern.
I think a "new to you" vehicle makes the most sense especially as it's his only vehicle and he needs it for work.

KYFIRE

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2021, 09:58:17 AM »
I think really need to clarify what is wrong with engine.  Dealer said no oil?  Did it just stop running one day? 

I'm not an expert on all years of Subaru but I've worked on many including my parents 2004 Forester.  The usual first guess issue is head gaskets, the 2.5s are notorious for them, though I think they started to get better some time in the late 00's.  This will cause overheating and slowly kill the motor (but you should have definitely gotten a light or some sign of this).  As such if it's deplete of oil and it shut down hard, then it's as good as toast. 

A broken timing belt would also shut it down but probably wouldn't result in all the oil loss.  It would destroy the heads and likely pistons.

Even so, if you're not mechanically inclined or equipped I might err on the side as others and look at off loading it.  There's tons of people out there who know how to work on Subaru engines and they can flip it pretty easily as long as the rest of the car isn't beat up.  Definitely check Craigslist or other sites for similar year Foresters, bound to find one with a listing of engine issues, should help to set a starting price.  I wouldn't accept scrap value.

Queen Frugal

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2021, 10:10:52 AM »
I once owned a Subaru Outback. I bought it with about 100k on it.  About a year in, the transmission failed. I paid a mechanic - not Subaru - to put in a factory rebuilt transmission. A year later, the rebuilt transmission failed. It was under warranty so the mechanic replaced it again at no cost. I then sold that poor old car as fast as I could! I always thought of Subarus being reliable. Interesting to hear of so many money pit stories here! I guess my story could be added to the list.

If it were me, not being mechanically inclined, and not being inclined to waste a lot of my valuable time on stuff I do not want to do, there would be no way I would consider replacing the engine myself in a car like yours. I like the idea of pricing it out at junkyards and then seeing if someone on craigslist or facebook marketplace would pay a bit more for it and get rid of it. Find yourself something different.

jeromedawg

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Re: Do we replace the engine or buy a different car?
« Reply #20 on: February 26, 2021, 03:24:06 PM »
I have a buddy who loves Subarus. The difference between him and I (and most normal people) is that he has more or less a full set of auto mechanic skills and was able to develop those while working in his buddy's auto shop for several years while living in SF.

It seems like Subarus attract those who have an affinity towards working on their own cars. He's always doing some kind of work on his cars and he has owned *multiple* Subarus. Sort of a side hustle he has is that he buys old/used Subarus (or ones that are breaking down, etc), swaps/rebuilds the engines and updates/replaces any other parts of the car, drives them around a bit for his own use, and then flips them at a profit.

If he were here he would probably tell you to swap the engine and tell you "it's super easy... all you need are a few tools, like an engine hoist" (LOL) or he'd offer to buy the car from you for really cheap and then do as I explained in the second paragraph hahaha. Sorry, this was probably not very helpful. Honestly, I'd probably just opt for the Rav4 or CR-V. They are in fact some of the most reliable cars out there. We regularly drive around my wife's 2009 Rav-4 and outside of normal maintenance and wear and tear, have not experienced any major issues with it. We intend to drive it around until we absolutely don't need it anymore.