The prospect of dealing with any unexpected car repairs isn't an exciting idea - especially when the check engine light (CEL) comes on. Now, an important thing to note right off the bat is that is that the check engine light doesn't necessarily mean that the engine is damaged beyond repair, or even that it's going to cost a vast amount of money to fix or replace; sometimes the problem can be something minor like a faulty fuel filter, which can be replaced easily. Other times though, the damage is more severe and can be potentially dangerous. For this reason, always pay attention to your engine light if it comes on and take it to a mechanic as soon as you can.
When engine troubles arise, it’s not unusual to find yourself asking: is it worth it to replace a damaged engine?'. Like a lot of car repair questions, the answer isn't a straightforward yes or no. It depends on various factors, such as the value and age of the car, the extent of the damage, and most importantly, the cost of the replacement. We’ve put together this guide to shed some light on what can be a difficult situation to navigate.
What to consider before you decide to replace your car engine
Repairing your engine is almost always going to be cheaper than replacing it with a new one (although of course, there can be some exceptions). The average car engine can cost anywhere from a couple of hundred pounds to a couple of thousand, so it’s best to do some research or ask your local mechanic about it before you make any decisions. If a repair is simple and relatively cheap, such as a routine maintenance or replacing a single component, it might not necessarily be worth replacing the whole engine.
On the other hand, if the damage is done and you find yourself in a situation where you absolutely have to replace the engine, if it's still going to be less costly than buying a new car, then you may decide it’s worth it - even if the repairs themselves will make a significant dent in your wallet. (This is particularly applicable if your vehicle is relatively new or worth a significant amount of money.)
If you have fully comprehensive insurance, you may even be able to claim and get it fixed through your provider, depending on the terms of your contract. If that’s not possible though, it comes to that age-old question: how much are you willing to part with to get your car back on the roads? And crucially, where is that money best spent?
Of course, it’s worth bearing in mind that if you ever wanted to sell the car at a later date, a new engine can help fetch the best price!
When isn’t it worth replacing your car’s engine?
After getting your car assessed by a professional, if it still needs extensive repairs that will cost too much for you to justify, it's probably best to cut your losses (like if the engine has failed and the damage has spread between parts, for example). Or similarly, if the mechanic recommends a brand new engine which is going to cost more than you're willing to pay, you may choose instead to scrap it at a salvage car auction and use the money to put towards buying a new one - especially if it's an old car that's not worth that much to begin with.
Unfortunately, it becomes a more likely option than ever when the cost of repairs is more than the car's worth. One of the main issues is that it’s often not considered economically viable by insurers, so even if you got it fixed, the monthly premiums are likely to be sky-high. Plus, you'd likely have to spend a lengthy amount of time without your car if significant damage is to be repaired. That could leave you without reliable transport and interfere with your ability to do things like commute to work or get from A to B. So there are quite a few considerations to weigh up, and there's no one size fits all answer.
Sometimes if the repairs look like they’ll be particularly expensive, then buying a new car becomes the best option, albeit not necessarily the go-to solution that you would have chosen. It is, however, important to remember that just because the engine is no longer road worthy, it doesn't mean that the rest of your car's parts aren’t. Car parts can fetch a decent sum at online car auctions, and you may even be surprised at what you're offered for your old car if the rest of it’s in good condition.
Ultimately, it all comes down to personal judgement in the end, though an opinion from a trusted mechanic won't hurt. If you think a new engine will cost too much money or your car is on the older side, you may decide that it's probably not worth it. In that case, rest assured that you always have other options that can help you get back on the road.
Here at RAW2K, we have over 20 years of experience running the UK's best salvage car auctions and pride ourselves on providing a quality, unrivalled service for our customers. Whether you're looking to dispose a car that's no longer up to the standards you need, or you're in the market for a damaged vehicle to salvage parts from, or simply looking for a bargain, we've got what you're searching for right here. Our vast range of cars includes leading manufacturers: Mercedes, Peugeot, Audi and more. Why not take a look around, and see what you can find?