Author Topic: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.  (Read 4381 times)

sjc0816

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Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« on: August 05, 2016, 07:13:56 AM »
We have two paid-off Toyotas. DH drives a 2003 Camry with 120k miles and I drive a 2008 Highlander 113k miles. Our plans have always been to drive these cars into the ground - and at just over 100k miles...we assumed we had a LONG life left. Therefore, we have ZERO car replacement funds.

So, in the last few months - my Highlander has been making a crazy grinding noise almost every time I start it. It's loud and embarrassing.  I've been researching the issue and apparently, it's an issue with some of these cars and it is an engine problem that people are saying is costing somewhere in the 4-6k range to fix. And if it's not fixed, will result in complete engine failure. What the hell!

I've taken my car to two reputable mechanics and neither can fix the problem. I'm assuming taking it to Toyota is my last option...and I'm expecting it to be a ridiculous amount of money.

So, what do I do? Have it repaired? Keep driving it? Buy another car?

Our situation is that we are debt free except the mortgage....healthy retirement accounts....but our E-Fund has taken a major hit in the last 18 months due to some seriously shitty luck (medical expenses, flooded basement, death in the family)...and right now it's sitting at around 8k.

We have two kids and carpool...so we need a vehicle that can transport a good amount of people. Our highlander seats 7...and has been perfect.

I would love to get some advice. My head is spinning right now. 

« Last Edit: August 05, 2016, 07:16:27 AM by sjc0816 »

DoubleNickels

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2016, 07:32:18 AM »
I have no advice but I am interested in the advice on this since I am trying to sort out car questions as well, and curious about the advice. This is my experience in buying used cars.   I'm wondering if "once a lemon, always a lemon" and at the first sign of major trouble one should just cut their losses and move on?  (i.e, not make the repairs and spend the 4-6k on something else?)
« Last Edit: August 05, 2016, 07:35:23 AM by DoubleNickels »

retiringearly

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2016, 07:44:24 AM »
I don't know what the problem is with the Highlander, but I would suggest you find a website that is dedicated to Toyota's or more specifically Highlanders and research the problem on there.   If it is a common issue they will be able to help you.  I have been on websites for my cars and found a ton of useful information.  Join one and ask on there.

Personally, I would probably have the repair done because Toyotas have a reputation for long lasting quality.  You should be able to get another 100k miles out of it.

http://www.toyotatruckclub.com/forum/forums/toyota-highlander-forum.8/
http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/207-highlander-forum/
http://us.toyotaownersclub.com/forums/forum/43-highlander-club/

SKL-HOU

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2016, 07:49:13 AM »
I had the exact same issue (or at least sounds like it) with my Ford Expedition. It was doing it rarely, then became more and more often. Then the engine started sounding like a freight train when I was driving. I didn't even have someone take a look at it because it knew it would be more than I would be willing to spend on a car worth barely worth 2-3k if I wanted to sell. Even though I LOVED LOVED LOVED my Expedition, I couldn't justify it and I bought a new vehicle.

SeaEhm

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2016, 08:04:51 AM »
Is this the sound?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-l4vkAh_fvg

http://www.carcomplaints.com/Toyota/Highlander/2008/engine/engine_knock_rattle_noise_on_cold_startup.shtml

Seems like it was an issue with the 2008 model.

The car looks to be worth about $16,000 without any issues.   If it takes $5k to fix the issue, you are looking at nearly 33% of the car's value to fix this one issue.

These are hard decisions because it's about philosophy and whether or not you trust the 8 year old car.  With this $5k fix, the car may run for another 200k without any issues OR it may slowly nickel and dime you.

Personally, I am fan of peace of mind when it comes to cars.  I'd rather lose financially to have a car with a warranty.  Knowing that I will pay $50 or $100 (extended warranty deductible) if a $1,000 or $10,000 fix happens is worth the $$$ to me.  If I pay $2k extra for a warranty and at the end of driving the car for 8 years/ 120k there were no issues,  $2k spread out over the additional 4 years and 70k miles was worth every penny!

I'd probably go to Carmax to see what they would offer me and get a car with one of their Carmax warranties.

cacaoheart

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2016, 08:06:18 AM »
I don't know if this would be a viable option with your Highlander or not, but when my '98 Saturn started having engine trouble around 190,000 miles, a mechanic pushed rebuilding the engine for $6,000 which was twice what I paid for the car years earlier. I went elsewhere and had an 80,000 mile salvage engine put in for $1600 including parts and labor and it has driven well for the past 45,000 miles now.

If you can't find any way to fix it for much less, I'd look into what perfectly good used minivans you could acquire for about the same amount.

Jack

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2016, 08:09:17 AM »
I've been researching the issue and apparently, it's an issue with some of these cars and it is an engine problem that people are saying is costing somewhere in the 4-6k range to fix. And if it's not fixed, will result in complete engine failure.

So what (specifically) is the problem?

ketchup

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2016, 08:11:16 AM »
If you could replace the car for that $4-6k with something that would be of equal value to you (work for what you need it for, and last as long), then do that.  Otherwise, just fix the car.  Either way, without the repair, it sounds like a ticking time-bomb at the moment, so figure it out pretty quickly.

If it's a "known problem" with that year and model, that's a pretty good thing as far as diagnosis and repair goes; it means the guesswork is basically gone and there's a "prescribed fix" by now I'm sure.

Toyotas are great, but [stuff] happens.

sjc0816

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2016, 08:18:17 AM »
I've been researching the issue and apparently, it's an issue with some of these cars and it is an engine problem that people are saying is costing somewhere in the 4-6k range to fix. And if it's not fixed, will result in complete engine failure.

So what (specifically) is the problem?



It seems to be, this:

The engine grinds at start up, because the V.V.T.I. (Variable Valve Timing) actuators, tensioners & the camshaft bearing ends do not receive adequate oil pressure at engine start up. The seals of the top end of the motor leak when they age, & the oil drains back down away from these crucial parts at start up. This causes the timing gears to grind & also stretches the timing chain over time. The actuator for the timing increases the pressure after a few seconds, taking the slack out from the timing chain. This does not sound so bad if its just happening for a couple of seconds. But over time it will cause severe engine wear & eventual failure.

neo von retorch

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2016, 08:21:12 AM »
My friend has a 2006/2007 Camry Solara, and it had an engine problem - it was recalled (or TSB?) by Toyota, and even though it was out of the original powertrain warranty period, they still rebuilt the engine because of the recall. This may or may not be an option for you, depending on the source of the engine problem, but I'll cross my fingers and hope for the best. (TL;DR Can't hurt to take it to Toyota and see what they say, maybe check recall / TSB on your VIN.)

Frankies Girl

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2016, 08:32:39 AM »
I had a 17.5 year old Ford Explorer that had over 200k on it (the odometer stopped working around 125K, so I was mostly guessing, but I drove that sucker into the freaking ground). It started having issues every other month and for about 6 months, I just repaired and moved on. It finally had a belt tensioner seize up, bust the serpentine belt and screw up a few other things and I was pretty much done.

Until you take it to a dealership and get their take and $$ involved with fixing, you're going to be unable to make an educated decision.

My vote is to take it in, get the estimate from the dealership and then figure out from there.

I would have my regular/trusted mechanic gave it a top to bottom look over and assess whether any other mechanical stuff is likely to fail or need maintenance in the next year or so - like you'd have them do if you were purchasing the vehicle right this minute. If other stuff is hitting the "needs work" area, I'd likely just get a newer vehicle and trade in this one. If the verdict is that it's doing good otherwise and nothing major should need work soon, I'd likely repair and hope to get another couple of years out of it and reassess if something else big comes up.

Jack

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2016, 09:12:34 AM »
I've been researching the issue and apparently, it's an issue with some of these cars and it is an engine problem that people are saying is costing somewhere in the 4-6k range to fix. And if it's not fixed, will result in complete engine failure.

So what (specifically) is the problem?

It seems to be, this:

The engine grinds at start up, because the V.V.T.I. (Variable Valve Timing) actuators, tensioners & the camshaft bearing ends do not receive adequate oil pressure at engine start up. The seals of the top end of the motor leak when they age, & the oil drains back down away from these crucial parts at start up. This causes the timing gears to grind & also stretches the timing chain over time. The actuator for the timing increases the pressure after a few seconds, taking the slack out from the timing chain. This does not sound so bad if its just happening for a couple of seconds. But over time it will cause severe engine wear & eventual failure.

Do the Toyota forums think better and/or higher-viscosity oil could be good enough to stave off the problem for a sufficient amount of time, or is seal replacement absolutely necessary? Are there updated seal part numbers, or will the problem tend to re-occur? When the problem has progressed to the stage your car is at is replacing just the seals good enough, or have the timing gears/chain/actuators/camshaft bearing ends already been damaged to the point that replacement is necessary? Does all this stuff require pulling the entire engine out of the car, or just removing the head?

sjc0816

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2016, 09:20:56 AM »
I've been researching the issue and apparently, it's an issue with some of these cars and it is an engine problem that people are saying is costing somewhere in the 4-6k range to fix. And if it's not fixed, will result in complete engine failure.

So what (specifically) is the problem?

It seems to be, this:

The engine grinds at start up, because the V.V.T.I. (Variable Valve Timing) actuators, tensioners & the camshaft bearing ends do not receive adequate oil pressure at engine start up. The seals of the top end of the motor leak when they age, & the oil drains back down away from these crucial parts at start up. This causes the timing gears to grind & also stretches the timing chain over time. The actuator for the timing increases the pressure after a few seconds, taking the slack out from the timing chain. This does not sound so bad if its just happening for a couple of seconds. But over time it will cause severe engine wear & eventual failure.

Do the Toyota forums think better and/or higher-viscosity oil could be good enough to stave off the problem for a sufficient amount of time, or is seal replacement absolutely necessary? Are there updated seal part numbers, or will the problem tend to re-occur? When the problem has progressed to the stage your car is at is replacing just the seals good enough, or have the timing gears/chain/actuators/camshaft bearing ends already been damaged to the point that replacement is necessary? Does all this stuff require pulling the entire engine out of the car, or just removing the head?

Are you asking me these questions or posing them to me to ask to Toyota next week?  I have not seen any of these questions answered in the research that I have done and I am certainly not qualified to answer.

Jack

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2016, 09:42:12 AM »
Do the Toyota forums think better and/or higher-viscosity oil could be good enough to stave off the problem for a sufficient amount of time, or is seal replacement absolutely necessary? Are there updated seal part numbers, or will the problem tend to re-occur? When the problem has progressed to the stage your car is at is replacing just the seals good enough, or have the timing gears/chain/actuators/camshaft bearing ends already been damaged to the point that replacement is necessary? Does all this stuff require pulling the entire engine out of the car, or just removing the head?

Are you asking me these questions or posing them to me to ask to Toyota next week?  I have not seen any of these questions answered in the research that I have done and I am certainly not qualified to answer.

Since you don't know the answers, I'm posing them to you to ask Toyota-oriented forums (no idea which one is best: a quick search turns up yotatech.com, toyotanation.com, toyotaownersclub.com, etc.). They are not questions for a Toyota dealer service department, or even an independent mechanic for that matter, until after you've gleaned a consensus opinion from the relatively-impartial Internet.

russianswinga

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2016, 12:17:51 PM »
A salvaged, replacement engine, will generally run a lot less than $6K to put in.

A quick ebay search reveals that a Toyota Highlander engine with around 100K miles on the odometer for a mid-2000's highlander will run under $1000 (the spread is between 400 and 800$ usually).
An engine will take an independent mechanic about 10 hours to pull and install a new one.
Calculate an indie shop labor rate of $75 an hr or so, and you're looking at another 1000 or so for labor (if there's some complicated stuff)
Add $1K for contingencies (this is the time to replace all hoses, cooling system, possibly radiator, basically anything that's perishable)

Now, for $3K, you've just gotten yourself a new engine in your highlander.
Don't fix the old engine, replace it and keep the car.

Jack

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2016, 12:39:13 PM »
A salvaged, replacement engine, will generally run a lot less than $6K to put in.

A quick ebay search reveals that a Toyota Highlander engine with around 100K miles on the odometer for a mid-2000's highlander will run under $1000 (the spread is between 400 and 800$ usually).
An engine will take an independent mechanic about 10 hours to pull and install a new one.
Calculate an indie shop labor rate of $75 an hr or so, and you're looking at another 1000 or so for labor (if there's some complicated stuff)
Add $1K for contingencies (this is the time to replace all hoses, cooling system, possibly radiator, basically anything that's perishable)

Now, for $3K, you've just gotten yourself a new engine in your highlander.
Don't fix the old engine, replace it and keep the car.

A salvaged engine could very well have exactly the same problem as the OP's, leaving him back at square one. A rebuilt engine would have the issue fixed, but that costs more. In fact, depending on the answers to the question I asked, the fix for the OP's issue might be equivalent to rebuilding the engine anyway, and I would expect that rebuilding the current engine and swapping in some other rebuilt engine to have about the same cost.

ChairmanKaga

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2016, 12:46:45 PM »
I'd advocate an engine swap if the Highlander wasn't your primary car. I've swapped motors in two cars (a 1989 Honda Prelude and a 2002 Ford Focus), and while the mechanicals were restored, both times I experienced ongoing electrical gremlins. Engine problem codes primarily, but also some evap system issues, AC problems, and general annoyances. It's very easy to damage the wiring harness or any of the hundreds of electrical connectors and sensors in the engine bay.

I also had an issue with the Honda engine, which was a pull and not a rebuilt motor. While cheap, it developed a leaky cylinder after only a few years, necessitating either a rebuild or another replacement. I wasn't willing to sink another $2000 into a $3000 car. I opted to sell. Maybe I'm just unlucky...
But my point is even an engine replacement involves a roll of the dice.

When my wife's '02 Camry started developing some expensive to repair problems that were leaving us high and dry with increasing regularity after 12 years and 260k miles, we opted to trade on a CPO Highlander, ironically enough. No regrets, as we'd saved 75% of the cost. I'd still shop around for a better rate on the issue, and MAYBE it's not even the problem described. And it's worth looking into an engine swap, but REALLY research shops on this one. It can go VERY wrong and VERY expensive pretty quickly.

retiringearly

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2016, 03:41:20 PM »
A salvaged, replacement engine, will generally run a lot less than $6K to put in.

A quick ebay search reveals that a Toyota Highlander engine with around 100K miles on the odometer for a mid-2000's highlander will run under $1000 (the spread is between 400 and 800$ usually).
An engine will take an independent mechanic about 10 hours to pull and install a new one.
Calculate an indie shop labor rate of $75 an hr or so, and you're looking at another 1000 or so for labor (if there's some complicated stuff)
Add $1K for contingencies (this is the time to replace all hoses, cooling system, possibly radiator, basically anything that's perishable)

Now, for $3K, you've just gotten yourself a new engine in your highlander.
Don't fix the old engine, replace it and keep the car.

A salvaged engine could very well have exactly the same problem as the OP's, leaving him back at square one. A rebuilt engine would have the issue fixed, but that costs more. In fact, depending on the answers to the question I asked, the fix for the OP's issue might be equivalent to rebuilding the engine anyway, and I would expect that rebuilding the current engine and swapping in some other rebuilt engine to have about the same cost.
Even a rebuilt engine might not have the problem corrected.

SKL-HOU

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2016, 07:46:13 AM »
I had an engine replaced on a Jeep Grand Cherokee before. It was around $4k with labor (not done at the dealer). However, it spent every weekend or so in the shop after that. Multiple problems... AC (several times), some control board, etc etc. They tried to tell me none of it was related to engine replacement but you cannot replace a major component of a car and not expect any issues. After having to replace a control board (about $800), I traded it right away. Maybe other people have better experiences with an engine replacement...

Slee_stack

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2016, 12:56:58 PM »
I know any debt is evil incarnate to some around here, but you can also get a third party used auto loan at 2% (presuming great credit) and not touch your e-fund.

Check out what is being offered from some private sellers and see what options fall under a loan budget.

2% is about/under inflation.  If you are petrified of any debt, you're options are limited.

JLee

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Re: Major Repair needed on car - what to do.
« Reply #20 on: August 08, 2016, 06:29:44 PM »
A salvaged, replacement engine, will generally run a lot less than $6K to put in.

A quick ebay search reveals that a Toyota Highlander engine with around 100K miles on the odometer for a mid-2000's highlander will run under $1000 (the spread is between 400 and 800$ usually).
An engine will take an independent mechanic about 10 hours to pull and install a new one.
Calculate an indie shop labor rate of $75 an hr or so, and you're looking at another 1000 or so for labor (if there's some complicated stuff)
Add $1K for contingencies (this is the time to replace all hoses, cooling system, possibly radiator, basically anything that's perishable)

Now, for $3K, you've just gotten yourself a new engine in your highlander.
Don't fix the old engine, replace it and keep the car.

A salvaged engine could very well have exactly the same problem as the OP's, leaving him back at square one. A rebuilt engine would have the issue fixed, but that costs more. In fact, depending on the answers to the question I asked, the fix for the OP's issue might be equivalent to rebuilding the engine anyway, and I would expect that rebuilding the current engine and swapping in some other rebuilt engine to have about the same cost.

Perhaps, but I don't think it's that common of a problem - the 3.5l 2GR-FE is in just about every Toyota/Lexus with a V6.  I haven't heard of any chronic problems with that motor, which leads me to believe it's fairly uncommon.

I could be wrong, of course.