MY CAR DIED WHILE I WAS DRIVING ON THE HIGHWAY ...
2000 Mazda Protege
January, 16, 2013 AT 12:35 AM
MY car died while I was driving on the highway three days ago. There was a loud rumbling noise before the car started to slow down., THe car stopped completely, the the "check" and "battery" lights both on. There is no activity when I stepped on the gas peddle. However, the battery was not dead at that point. We had the dash light, headlight, and heater on. We call AAA and they had my car towed to a " AAA approved mechanics." We were told that there were 'internal engine noises' and that the engine was dead and we would need a replacement that will cost at least $2500, depending on the mileage of the replacement engine.
Did they tell you what was wrong with your engine? Was there oil in it?
January, 16, 2013 AT 4:15 PM
Here is what I recall: They stated that something like this happening to a Mazda engine with so few miles is odd. He (Stone's Premier Automotive, 11116 Shady Trail, Dallas, TX 75229 - this was the closest shop that AAA Texas found for the tow; one online review which is very glowing) said something about Mazda's not being very good for standing for extended periods (this car has low miles but is used almost daily primarily for short trips moving the kids around; it is parked in our driveway so does see the Texas weather - mostly the summer heat). He said something about the lifters (?) Which have a small channel (?) Leading to them which can plug with sludgy oil. We have not been changing oil every 2K miles or so, probably more like every 5K miles (last change done at Midas about 3 months ago). He said nothing about there being no oil so I assume there was. The check oil light only came on when this problem occurred on the highway. The car is an automatic by the way. He also said something about engine pressure being released through the oil dipstick. He mentioned several scenarios whereby this could happen, and all sounded very bad. However, he mentioned the low miles again and said he would look at it again with one of the other mechanics to get a better feeling for exactly what was wrong - I got the impression that there might be an answer better than the engine replacement (but perhaps that was just me being hopeful).
He also mentioned that it is difficult to find clean low mileage engines to put back into a car like this. The skeptic in me thought that that may well be true and he might just have one in the shop right now - in my car. Unkind if this analysis is truly correct, which I hope the AAA status ensures. However, we are not in a good position to get a second opinion - I guess we would have to pay for a tow to another garage.
Finally, with the age of the car, we wonder whether it is better to sell/scrap the car and start anew than to invest $2500 or more in the 'new' engine, especially if the engine has a lot of miles or wear and tear.
I appreciate greatly your reply and look forward to your thoughts/advice.