Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Spencer asks: I have an extremely well-maintained 2001.5 VW Passat with 175,000 miles and 50,000 miles on the timing belt. Purchased new. The timing belt failed and I’ve lost the engine so I’m interested in a replacement. Any thoughts on this? Avoiding pitfalls?
My reply: Replacing the engine in an otherwise good car can be extremely sound policy because the cost of an engine is almost always much less than the worth of the car. Put another way, you’d probably end up spending considerably more money on an equivalent replacement car than on a replacement engine for the car you have.
Moreover, it’s less risky – because when you replace the engine, the engine’s all you have to worry about. When you replace the car with an equivalent used car, you have to worry about everything. Because no two used cars are equivalent – in terms of their treatment by prior owners, mileage and overall condition.
So I amen what you’re planning.
You have basically three options: A new replacement engine from VW, which will be warranted by VW; a remanufactured replacement engine from a reputable company like Jasper, which also be warranted; or a used replacement engine from a salvage yard – which may or may not be warranted but probably not for more 90 days.
The cost will vary considerably. The new engine from VW being the most expensive option, of course. But it will be a brand-new engine from VW. The remanufactured engine should cost less – but will probably serve just as well.
The third option can be a real money-saver, if you know a really good mechanic who can help you pick a good one. Yes, it’ll have miles on it – and won’t be new. But let’s say you find one in good condition from a recently wrecked VW with say 70,000 miles on it that you can get for $800 or so that you mechanic can install in the car for another $500. For $1,300 or so, your car should be all set to provide you with reliable service for another ten years and at least 100,000 miles and that, to me, is money very well-spent!
I’d personally go with a remanufactured Jasper next, if this were my car and I could not find a good used engine. “Remanufactured” means the internal wear parts have been replaced and all necessary machine work to bring the engine to “as new” mechanical condition has been performed. So long as the remanufacturer is reputable, such an engine ought to be functionally indistinguishable from a new one.
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