Are you a current or recent car shopper who bought an EV and then installed solar – or who had solar already, making the decision to go electric easier?
Are you a recent EV buyer (past 3 months) as a result of manufacturer incentives and dealer discounts on these vehicles, including year-end deals? Were you convinced to buy an EV after finding a good end-of-year deal, or due to uncertainty around which EVs will no longer qualify for full/partial EV tax credits in 2024? A national business reporter is interested in speaking with you. Please reach out to [email protected] by 12/15 if interested in sharing your story.

Overheated Engine Replacement

jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
My moronic 22 year old nephew let the coolant leak out in his 91 New Yorker Fifth Ave, and the engine stopped. He is planning on junking it for $100, and he would sell the car to me for that amount.

Everything works on it except a broken off power antenna, no rust anywhere, and 115,000 miles. It is the Mark Cross Edition, so it is loaded.

I got some prices on-line from below:

I'm assuming when an engine overheats, it is from the top down, so most likely it is a cracked head. The price for a remanufactured head is $196 + $150 core deposit. However, if the whole engine is bad, that would run $1,366 + $270 core. Add labor to both for the installation.

Does this seem like a good idea, or should I let him junk it?



  • altair4altair4 Member Posts: 1,469
    There's more to it than that. If the coolant went low, the head can warp and need to be replaced/remachined. But the engine could also be seized, in which case it would need to be replaced. You don't want to sink money into one without fully exploring what's going on in the rest of the engine.

    I would bet on the engine replacement, if I were you. However, what you really need is a mechanic to look at the car and make a determination what needs to be done.

    Unless you have a well equipped garage and are mechanically adept, you will need someone else to do the engine replacement. That's not going to be a cheap job. So again, you really need an experienced mechanic to determine the real costs of this $100 car.

    Unless you have both time and money to kill, I'd walk away. Interesting way to learn lesson for your nephew. I'm guessing it had a slow leak that he never addressed and the thing just ran out of coolant. Is that what happened?
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883
    A 1991? Bah!

    Junkyard motor time!


  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    Thanks guys. The Chrysler 3.3 from the early 90's is pretty ubiquitous, as they used them in the Dynasty, Imperial, and Fifth Ave. as well as the minivans.

    There is a salvage yard near me that has 10 early 90's 3.3's in stock for $125, my choice.

    Of course, it could be just a bad head, which would be quite a bit less expensive labor wise to fix.
  • csandstecsandste Member Posts: 1,866
    that this is a car waiting to get a salvage yard engine. The only risk would be if the engine was crap you might have to pay a double installation charge, and that seldom happens because good yards fire 'em up and see how well they run. This is one of the advantages of having a car of that age-- plenty of cheap parts on wrecks.
  • ywilsonywilson Member Posts: 135
    You can get more use out of the car since the rest of it is still in good condition. Good cheap engine and if it gives out get another.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I'm not sure the head would be any less labor, especially if you have to have machine work done.

    If I were you I'd set a budget and stick to it, let's say $1,000 absolutely tops. With 115K miles, you may have to deal with other things as well.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    I talked to the mechanic who diagnosed it. It is a bad head gasket, said the coolant was shooting out like a squirt gun. His corner garage doesn't do head gaskets, but he said would be $1,200 tops if the head needed machined (that still sounds high to me). Gave me a reference to another independent garage that does head gaskets, have not called them yet. Don't know how my nephew thought that meant the entire engine is shot.

    Looked at the car, the body is in great shape, paint starting to fade, but the interior needs a good cleaning/detailing - nephew is kind of a disgusting slob. Found a rotten pumpkin in the trunk from Halloween! Amazingly, no cigarette burns in the leather.

    Only other issues is antenna broken off, the automatic temperature control keeps blowing a fuse, and plastic trim on the driver's seat is broken. Oh yeah, it's a 90, not a 91. Oil was dirty, but the front brakes and rotors are less than one year old and less than 10,000 miles. Battery was dead as well, but it may just need the corrosion cleaned off from the coolant leak.

    So the amount I'm willing to spend to get it running again is dropping. As the host said, $1,000 tops.

    Not to mention, what new car can you get the button-tufted interior, padded vinyl roof, and wire wheel covers? It is something completely different compared to today.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Actually now that you've seen the car and described it more thoroughly, I am inclined to advise you to junk it. You can buy this car clean and running for not much more than you are going to put into it. Resale value of these cars is not very high, especially with bad paint and dirty interior and a damaged engine (you may have more damage to the engine than you think).

    Time to turn this baby into lawn furniture I think
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    Funny you should mention lawn furniture, as he left it in my sister's yard after he got it towed from the mechanic. Let's just say I would not want to live next to them - every family has a black sheep I guess.

    The car was in nice shape when he got it - he paid $2,000 last summer in good condition, and it took him only about 3 months to break the antenna, blow the head gasket, completely trash the interior, and generally turn it into a hillbilly wagon. Inside it needs just a good cleaning. Paint is white, so the fading is not noticable, but it is 12 years old, so it doesn't look new.

    Edmund's TMV for a 90 Mark Cross edition with 115,000 in average (not good) condition is about $1,460 private sale in my area (which it should be after the head gasket repair), so we shall see what the mechanic says. If the estimate is $750 or less, I will have to think about it. I don't want to sink more than $1,000 into it for everything - the car, the repair, the towing, interior detailing, replacing antenna, etc.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well, do the math here. If he paid $2,000 for it in very good condition, and now it needs a paint job and a head gasket and an interior shampoo, that leaves an actual value of......??
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Member Posts: 872
    Chances are that the head gasket blew and the coolant filled a cylinder and hat gave your nephew the impression of a siezed engine. That engine is known for head gaskets, so it's not like it is a real surprise it happened. If you want to fix it and use the car as a work beater then I would fix it, if you want to fix and sell it you won't make your money back, so junk it or sell it as a repairable car after you clean it up a little. Another out for the car would be to donate it to a non profit organization and take a tax write off.

    It's not that hard to remove and replace the head, just find a shop that exchanges heads. Give them your and get a rebuilt one for around $250. The gasket kit is around $50, and a munual is around $20. If you don't want to do the work find a shop that will do the work with your parts, or talk to a mechanic personaly about a side job. Regular labor for the job around here is $450 to $500. There is always a way to save cash. Like cleaning the interior yourself, it leather seating, so that is not that hard to do, but the carpet and the trunk is another thing.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    it may have started as a nice car, but you can also raise real hob by turning a room at the Hyatt into a meth lab, too. it's not $200 a night again for a long time.

    rotten pumpkin, broken trim, antenna, ATC is hosed up, never changed the oil, a coolant leak heavy enough to gunk the battery and never did anything about it? I think your nephew would be getting $99.95 too much for that heap from a buyer.

    hope you didn't buy it already. sounds like a parts car.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    The estimate from the mechanic that would do the work is $450 - $550 for a new head gasket. I'm not sure if his heat problem was due to the fact the coolant level was low due to the leak or not.

    I have taken a pass on it due to for some reason he took the floormats out up front, and the carpet on the driver's side is completely full of grease from his shoes worn in a restaurant kitchen. I think it was so he had more room to throw fast food wrappers, empty cigarette boxes, dirty laundry, etc.

    It is just sad, because it was a beautiful car when he got his hands on it. He's 22, and this is the 3rd car he has destroyed so far. He drove the car only a few months, but that was enough. Not sure what part of the gene pool he didn't inherit.

    I guess if I want a traditional American car, I'll have to keep looking. Also, he'll never drive one of my cars.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    sounds like a real fine young man, groom this guy for either politics or the boardroom
This discussion has been closed.