Very rarely is a timing belt an "easy fix' - or THEY would have. Right?
So, if apparently it was too hard or expensive for them, it could still be a nest of snakes for even a qualified mechanic. What happens when the belt breaks is that the cams go out of time and the pistons hit the valves. Valves get bent, which could damage the valve guides, and the pistons could get dented or more likely cracked. The roller rockers from valve to cam are in the way, too, and the bar they ride on gets stressed.
Somebody in the life of that car was negligent about changing the belt, which usually includes the water pump at the same time. So it's an indicator the car had poor maintenance by an uncaring or uninformed owner. What else was ignored?
Interference motors in certain cars are causing a lot of depreciation and loss of credibility, the public is noticing, and the makers are responding by moving back to chains which don't have those catastrophic blowups as much. On the market of used cars, tho, too many attempt to sell them by glossing over the real reasons and give powder puff answers that don't really express the reality of how badly they broke it. They are just trying to bail out and make as much money as they can.
I would assess the car for it's used car value less the cost of another used motor less the cost of labor. That might be enough that if it was just torn down and sold off for parts it would pay for itself. People need struts, fenders, transmissions, etc. Taking an example very close in my experience, a $2400 used Forester with blown motor, less $1,300 for the motor shipped in from another state, or $1,900 for a cheap reman, less the $500 labor (which I spent in tools and aggravation) means the price of the car on craigslist would be about $600 to even get any attention. Most that I see sell for less when cash is pulled out of the wallet.
That is why so many get junked. You only lose a few hundred, rather than get stuck driving a car with 220,000 that now is has $3700 in it and couldn't possibly sell for that. Nonetheless, some still do it.
Who knew the AWD trans would shell itself out three weeks later? Oh, my.
Moral of the story is that any car over 150k has a short finite life left in it measured in tens of thousands of miles and the downside of replacing major drivetrain parts will result in expenses beyond it's book value. You will sell for a loss or be economically forced to drive it until the next major failure just to get some of your money out of it. If that happens unexpectedly I will part it out and junk the rest.
Or, put an ad in the local craigslist saying "easy to fix." Yeah, using your credit card.
Edited by tirod, 24 February 2014 - 11:12 AM.