I can share another opinion based on observations. If you're involved in a crash with a front-wheel-drive GM car, your chance of a fatality seems to be extremely much higher than with other cars. A county deputy was following a young girl going 45 mph in a 55 mph speed zone, doing nothing illegal. She spun sideways on the ice and was hit by another GM front-wheel-drive car, also going only 45 mph. The deputy witnessed the crash. My mother, who lived just a few miles away, was third in line waiting to be allowed to go past the crash site, and she got that information from talking with the deputy. Two people in each car, four total, were all killed instantly.
Since then I've tended to watch more closely which brands of cars are involved in more fatal crashes. I worked at a new car dealership that owned the impound yard behind their body shop where all cars were taken involving fatalities in our county. There were dozens of GM cars in there and very few of any other brands. When I mentioned that to a friend who is also a county deputy, he just shrugged his shoulders and said they knew that all along. That doesn't make news.
A friend who used to own a body shop had an early '90s Dodge Shadow. His girlfriend pulled into traffic on a busy city avenue and was broad-sided in the driver's door by a heavy Olds Cutlass going 35 mph. The interior door panel never even got touched because of a huge steel beam inside the door. Her only injury was a bad bump on the left side of her head. Those cars are built like ostrich eggs and are really tough. Later they were replaced by the Neon which is definitely not the same car. I can't recommend those tin boxes to anyone.
If you do have to scrap your car, consider this an opportunity to find one that's safer. As an alternative idea, you might look for a nearby community college with an automotive program. They might accept your car as a donation for the kids to get real-world experience, and you can deduct the value from your taxes. Better yet, we were always looking for live vehicles to work on. We had about a dozen community members who would sit on a broken car until it fit what we were teaching because they understood the value that live work had for our students. Be aware though they will typically only take your car in for engine work while they're teaching engine repair, not brakes or electrical, for example. That might only be once per year. To do otherwise takes potential work away from the employers who might hire those graduates. Also be aware it can take weeks to get the car back and it likely won't have a warranty. Between sitting in the classroom part of the day and running off to other classes, they might only have a few hours per day to work on it. The trade-off though is we only charged ten dollars per hour for what the job was supposed to take, (not what it actually took us), and we got parts at very good discounts, then marked them up only ten percent. All of that money formed a "breakage" fund in case we damaged something on a customer's car.
Students are very well-supervised, and in that career-oriented college setting, you would not believe how careful, responsible, and respectful the kids were. Here in Wisconsin we have 16 technical colleges, but only one has an Engine Machining program. That means for the rest of them, they have to pull your engine out, disassemble it, take measurements and analyze the failure, then haul parts to a local engine machine shop. They have no control over those costs. Some gaskets sets are expensive too. We always told our kids to plan on spending $2000.00 by the time they were done, but I had my students rebuild a 3.0L Dodge Caravan engine for me with the same problem as what you're describing, and it cost me $300.00. $100.00 for a reconditioned crankshaft, $125.00 for the gasket set, $25.00 for one silly, expensive gasket that wasn't included in the set, new bearings and oil, and off we went! That didn't include any labor charge though, and it was understood the breakage fund would not be used if something got broken. Engine runs great. Too bad the van's body is rusted away.
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Monday, February 20th, 2012 AT 10:19 PM