Should I fix this car?

Tiny
JULIAANNSMITH
  • MEMBER
  • 2002 TOYOTA RAV4
  • 17,700 MILES
Own a 2002 Toyota Rav4. It has 178,000 miles on it. I have never had any serious problems. Just brakes, fuel pump, battery. The engine has seized up. The estimate to replace the engine is $3500. My fear is that after investing such a large sum of money into the car, something else (transmission, suspension etc.) Might go out. What should I do?
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Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 AT 12:19 AM

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Tiny
RASMATAZ
  • MEMBER
Sacrifice -and move on to the next vehicle you want - my opinion
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Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 AT 12:29 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
If you can be without it for a few weeks, you might look for a community college with an automotive program. We were always looking for live work for the students to get supervised, real-world experience. Our charge was ten bucks per hour for labor and parts cost plus ten percent. Your bill will be less than half of your estimate to rebuild your current engine, (even less if just a repair is needed), but the work must fit what they are teaching at the time.

My personal opinion is your estimate is equal to about five new car payments, except after five months those new car payments keep on coming long after the new car smell has worn off. Also, new cars have WAY too many unnecessary, complicated, unreliable, expensive computers. It's why I refuse to give up my rusty trusty daily driver '88 Grand Caravan, and I let my newer cars sit in the garage. If you randomly read through this forum, you'll see the stupid problems people are having with their newer cars. We have progressed so far technologically that we have the ability to build an extremely reliable and trouble-free car, but the insane engineers see to it that they put way more technology than is needed into an environment that is destructive to electronics, then when it breaks down, it's difficult to diagnose and expensive to repair. So many computerized systems are inter-related that you MUST spend the money to have the repairs done. Some manufacturers, General Motors in particular, have designed their cars and their business practices so you must go back to the dealer for repairs. That eliminates the competition and lets them charge whatever they want to. Look at how effective anti-theft systems are at keeping owners from driving their own cars. Read about all of the expensive problems people run into from simply disconnecting the battery or letting it run dead. That can easily be an $800.00 repair bill with a Volkswagen. There are many retrofit kits to fix drooping Fords with air suspension systems that constantly cause problems and are expensive to fix for those few that parts are still available. Ford likes to limit parts availability so you'll be swayed to buying a new car. The point is, many people get frustrated with their current vehicle so they buy a different brand not knowing all of the "got'chas" built in to cost you money later. That is not the case with your Toyota.

Many people spend WAY over $3500.00 on repairs in a few years. You are looking to spend that much in 10 years, just all at once. Rebuilding or replacing an engine will not cause other parts to fail although sometimes it seems that way. You could just as easily buy a used car and have the transmission fail in the first year. At least with yours, you have a "known quantity". If there is good tire wear and no worn steering and suspension parts, chances are that system isn't going to cause problems soon. If you buy a Ford product, it will ride very smoothly, but we all know it will be at the cost of horrendous tire wear problems with no way to correct it. Every manufacturer has their good and bad points, but if you want to be a customer of an owner-friendly company, you have to own a Hyundai, Toyota, or Chrysler product. You already have that.

You didn't tell us why the engine seized up either. What led up to the problem? Some people are told, and believe, they need a whole new engine just because it quit running. Leaking head gaskets are a common repair on any brand of car but an entire engine replacement is WAY overkill for solving that one. At 177,000 miles, it's doubtful an entire rebuild is necessary unless you ran the engine out of oil. My old beat up Caravan has 380,000 miles and has only had one timing belt and water pump. Toyotas have a better reputation than my van has. Many smaller engines have what's called an "interference" engine design in which the valves will get bent if the timing belt breaks. That used to be a common and fairly expensive problem years ago on Hondas, but all manufacturers have some of those engines. Repairs consist of a new timing belt and a valve job. That's still a long way from needing an entire engine. The same thing could happen to a used engine in a few months.
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Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 AT 12:59 AM

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