Engine Dying? Consider Options Before Discarding Vehicle
8 July 1998Consumer Auto Feature: Engine Dying? Consider All Options Before Discarding Your Vehicle
DETROIT, July 8 -- Your beloved minivan, veteran of countless family vacations, is showing its age. Power has dropped off, it's making some unseemly noises and, most ominous of all, there's white smoke coming from the tail pipe. Time for minivan heaven, right? Not so fast. Before jumping into the market for a new vehicle, consider all of your options. Just as you wouldn't abandon your home when it's time for some rewiring, you shouldn't automatically assume that your vehicle is beyond hope when the engine begins to show its age. True, 10 or 15 years ago, the condition of the typical vehicle infrastructure -- body panels, wiring system, transmission, etc. -- might have dictated the purchase of a new vehicle. Today, however, with dramatic increases in engineering and manufacturing quality, vehicles have become infinitely more durable. Not convinced? Maybe cold, hard numbers will do the trick. Even the most attractive vehicle leasing packages carry hefty price tags. Once you factor in the down payment and surrender charge, not to mention the mileage surcharge, you've basically bought yourself a car -- except you don't own it at the end of the term. How much will engine repair cost? Obviously, it depends on the extent of damage to the engine. Chances are very good, though, that you'll be limited to remanufacturing a cylinder head. Even a cracked aluminum head can be made like new these days, and with all new internal components -- valves, valve guides and valve springs -- the cost of the repair shouldn't exceed $1,500. Even in the worst-case scenario -- a complete engine overhaul or the outright purchase of a remanufactured motor -- your out-the-door cost shouldn't exceed the down payment (through lease or purchase) on that new vehicle. What's "Rebuilding?" That loss of horsepower or presence of tailpipe smoke is likely the result of the gradual wearing of the parts within your engine. This can cause oil consumption and the telltale blue smoke, the loss of compression and power during the combustion process, and a variety of other telling symptoms. "Rebuilding an engine is the process through which a skilled technician, using precision equipment, remachines your cylinder head and/or block to new specifications, then installs brand-new internal components," explains Ray Swetman, engine parts marketing manager for Federal-Mogul Corporation. "The result is the return to the exact operating tolerances designed by the vehicle manufacturer. Your engine is, in many respects, like new again." To find out about rebuilding your once-reliable engine, contact your independent repair garage or the nearest automotive engine rebuilding service. Be sure to ask about the quality of the products they'll be installing in your engine, as well as the warranty offered on the repair work. Federal-Mogul, for example, now offers a limited lifetime warranty on engine repairs completed with the use of the company's premium engine parts kits.