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Engine Dying? Consider Options Before Discarding Vehicle

8 July 1998

Consumer 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

    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.