Automotive

Engine seized on old Camry - options?

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  • Dec 30th, 2017 2:34 am
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[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 26, 2016
161 posts
151 upvotes
Vancouver, BC

Engine seized on old Camry - options?

Hi RFD'ers! Got a question for you and I would really apprecite your advise, as always!

SITUATION:
Bought a 1997 Toyota Camry for my parents who were visiting from outside of BC. It was bought under my dad's name for a very good price and it had low km's on it for a car that old (< 195k). Since it was bough from a family we know, we knew it was well taken care of. It ran like a dream, came with an extra set of winter tires and a very new set of current tires on it and we were very happy with it. My parents left for an extended period of time and I drove the car sparingly since my dad is the principal driver on it.

Sadly, given how rarely I used it, I kept being lazy about taking it in for servincing / maintenance and did not even fill coolant or engine oil. Last week, the check engine light came on and the car died the next day! I got advice from friends who know more about cars and everyone's diagnostic testing (including the BCAA guy who came to tow it) lead to the same conclusion - the engine is dead. Specifically, with no coolant and engine oil left, the pistons likely welded theselves to the cylinders. Sad, for a car that was working so well and just needed minimal care, I let this happen. Lesson learned!

I posted here about cancelling insurance and got great advice. Insurance was renewed for about $2100 for the year, just this past June. ICBC will refund the remainder once we bring in the license plates and registration papers. Problem: I have no place to store the car once the license plates are removed + insurance works out to roughly $6 bucks a day, which I am losing as long as I chose to keep the car parked on the street.

My questions:

1. I researched extensively and called a few shops. Replacing the engine, along with labour will cost AT LEAST $3-4k. Not worth it for an old car. For some perspective, I found that similar cars ('97 Toyota Camry's, specifically) in running condition, but with maybe 100-150k more on them, are seling for $1-1.5k on craigslist. Are there any alternative ways to cheaply fix the car? If it helps, I do know everything else in the car is working well, including a fairly new battery, and overall, I like the car very much and trust it to work well given some basic care.

2. Someone suggested to sell the car for parts. Problem with that - I don't have a place, like a backyard, to store the car while people come and buy parts from it. Any suggestions?

3. I was told to definitely sell the 14' winter tires which are basically unused, make a few hundred bucks on those and then donate the car to a charity which will take it, and at least get a tax receipt out of it. Question: I would still have to have the original tires attached to the car for it to be towed and donated, right? I can't sell both the currently installed set AND the winter tires, right?

Any help or suggestions are welcome. Thank you for your time!
“Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.”
― Yuval Noah Harari,
21 replies
Deal Addict
Jul 26, 2004
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Looks like its too late for your car. Unless you know someone who will do an engine swap for you for free labor alone will cost more than another used one. If you don't have the space for it then just sell it to some scrapper maybe they'll come tow it. I am sure to donate it has to be at least a functional car? So some crap tires on it is a must. Perhaps even a running one? ..
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Nov 3, 2012
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You said you rarely use the car. Do you really need a car then?

I say junk it since you can't part it out. (Not sure if charities take non-working cars) No point paying $3-4k to replace an engine which is probably over exaggerated on an old car like that. You can find used Mazda 3's/Corollas/Civics for that price point as an alternative however. Sell the winter tires.
Member
Mar 7, 2010
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What is Craigslist?
Switch to Kijiji man!
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May 10, 2005
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Have you tried a junkyard (auto recycler) for an engine. They are much cheaper and most do engine swaps.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 26, 2016
161 posts
151 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
coilz wrote: I am sure to donate it has to be at least a functional car? So some crap tires on it is a must. Perhaps even a running one? ..
Thanks for your advice, Coilz! I checked and most charities in and around Vancouver will take non-functioning cars as well. They either auction or recycle the car depedning on it's condition and the repairs needed.
zakregent wrote: You said you rarely use the car. Do you really need a car then?

I say junk it since you can't part it out. (Not sure if charities take non-working cars) No point paying $3-4k to replace an engine which is probably over exaggerated on an old car like that. You can find used Mazda 3's/Corollas/Civics for that price point as an alternative however. Sell the winter tires.
Thanks for your reply, Zakregent! lately, i did start using the car a bit more and with 6 weddings on the cards over this month and the next, I committed to attending and helping out with chores specifically because I had access to a vehicle. So that's a minor problem with not having one now. You're right about looking at a better used car for that price point.
Pete_Coach wrote: Have you tried a junkyard (auto recycler) for an engine. They are much cheaper and most do engine swaps.
Pete_Coach, that's an excellent idea. I haven't - I will do some research and check! Thank you!
“Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.”
― Yuval Noah Harari,
[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 26, 2016
161 posts
151 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
Thanks for all the suggestions, friends! I will see if a junk yard / recycler has a spare engine that they will cheaply swap out for me... if not, here's the most likely plan of action :-
  1. Sell the spare winter tires for a few hundred bucks
  2. Siphon out the 3/4 full gas tank and give it to a friend as a thank you for using his BCAA membership to tow my car for free LOL
  3. Donate the car to the Canadian Liver Foundation via this organisation - http://donatecar.ca/contact-us/
Last edited by Deveno on Aug 2nd, 2017 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.”
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Deveno wrote: Thanks for all the suggestions, friends! I will see if a junk yard / recycler has a spare engine that they will cheaply swap out for me... if not, here's the most likely plan of action:-
  1. Sell the spare winter tires for a few hundred bucks
  2. Siphon out the 3/4 full gas tank and give it to a friend as a thank you for using his BCAA membership to tow my car for free LOL
  3. Donate the car to teh Canadian Liver Foundation via this organisation - http://donatecar.ca/contact-us/
+1 Right thing to do. I wouldn't replace an engine for a 20 years old car. You are just putting more and more money into it.
Just get rid of it,
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Mr ILIA wrote: What is Craigslist?
Switch to Kijiji man!
Nobody uses Kijiji in BC.
¯\_(-.-)_/¯ A wise RFD'er once said, "Buy now, think later."

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Feb 6, 2011
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Check the ScrapIt program in b.c.
Lots of incentives. 3000 to 6000 credit on your next new/used electric car, car2go, transit passes, and others
Car needs to be running, but I've seen many towed in, not running
[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 26, 2016
161 posts
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Vancouver, BC
billford wrote: Check the ScrapIt program in b.c.
Lots of incentives. 3000 to 6000 credit on your next new/used electric car, car2go, transit passes, and others
Car needs to be running, but I've seen many towed in, not running
Good idea, Billford, I'll get in touch with them and see if they will take the car. It's especially relevant since I want my next car to be an EV or a hybrid and I JUST signed up for car2go :)
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Scrap it and move on. Not worth the time or money.
Penalty Box
Dec 27, 2007
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Good project car diy engine swap?
Can get an engine for $200 from pick n pull.
warming up the earth 1 gas fill-up at a time...
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Jul 22, 2006
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tmkf_patryk wrote: Good project car diy engine swap?
Can get an engine for $200 from pick n pull.
Do a 2JZ swap
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take the car to your local highschool autoshop, see if they can do an engine swap.

but there are going to be alot more costs to do it. transmission joints, and the driveshafts would need to be replaced because of the seals and other misc parts would add up. it could cost you arond $4000.00
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[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 26, 2016
161 posts
151 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
Solsearchin1 wrote: Scrap it and move on. Not worth the time or money.
Agreed!
tmkf_patryk wrote: Good project car diy engine swap?
Can get an engine for $200 from pick n pull.
Thanks! I definitely thought about it. As someone with almost no car knowledge, I thought this would be a great learning opportunity. However, I live in an apartment dt with no parking spots and have no access to a space where I can easily do this as a DIY project. Plus, I have no tools... I could buy or borrow some, perhaps... In the interest of time and cost however, I think it's best to leave this learning for a future vehicle when I ahve my own property.
george__ wrote:

Do a 2JZ swap
I called around and checked with scrap yards and such. No luck! Even the cheapest place quoted $1500 for the engine.
akito925 wrote: take the car to your local highschool autoshop, see if they can do an engine swap.

but there are going to be alot more costs to do it. transmission joints, and the driveshafts would need to be replaced because of the seals and other misc parts would add up. it could cost you arond $4000.00
That's exactly the problem - spending $4000 on a $1100 vehicle. Does not make financial sense! :(
“Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.”
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Did someone tried to add engine oil and coolant to it? Does it turn over lol? Or is it really seized for good, checked the timing belt?

My 2001 is at 420k and counting lol
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how tf does a car suddenly have no oil or coolant left?

As others have said, just scrap it
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Not to doubt the integrity of the BCAA tow truck driver and friendly onlookers, but I am in the camp of those who find it hard to believe a Toyota engine (2.4L four cyl.?) would seize with just the CEL on.

There hasn't been any mention of what the temp. gauge was indicating, nor if there was any steam from gushing coolant, nor whether the oil pressure warning light came on.

And ownership sounds like it took place just earlier this year, so for there to be no oil or coolant now, something like this would have to happen:
- although the car had "been well looked after" it changed hands with an incipient oil leak and/or accompanying low oil level, plus an incipient coolant leak

You really shouldn't have needed to add oil between changes if the engine was in good shape, nor would an oil change have been essential unless very high kms. had been covered by parents (whatever type of oil in there).
You just did short distances which isn't good for the oil but still doesn't mean that lack of an oil change caused the problem.

As you park outside on the street, I suppose a significant oil leak might go undetected. And no oil burning presumably, or you would have noticed blue smoke from exhaust.

I would seek out a smaller independent mechanic willing to charge you a 1/2 hour of labour to have a look see for a simpler diagnosis than a seized engine.
Ideally, this would be someone who if worst case is confirmed would be disposed toward buying it off you for parts or repair.
Don't get hung up on the perceived value of the summer and winter wheels/tires. I doubt they are a size that is currently in great demand.
Penalty Box
Dec 27, 2007
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macnut wrote: Not to doubt the integrity of the BCAA tow truck driver and friendly onlookers, but I am in the camp of those who find it hard to believe a Toyota engine (2.4L four cyl.?) would seize with just the CEL on.

There hasn't been any mention of what the temp. gauge was indicating, nor if there was any steam from gushing coolant, nor whether the oil pressure warning light came on.

And ownership sounds like it took place just earlier this year, so for there to be no oil or coolant now, something like this would have to happen:
- although the car had "been well looked after" it changed hands with an incipient oil leak and/or accompanying low oil level, plus an incipient coolant leak

You really shouldn't have needed to add oil between changes if the engine was in good shape, nor would an oil change have been essential unless very high kms. had been covered by parents (whatever type of oil in there).
You just did short distances which isn't good for the oil but still doesn't mean that lack of an oil change caused the problem.

As you park outside on the street, I suppose a significant oil leak might go undetected. And no oil burning presumably, or you would have noticed blue smoke from exhaust.

I would seek out a smaller independent mechanic willing to charge you a 1/2 hour of labour to have a look see for a simpler diagnosis than a seized engine.
Ideally, this would be someone who if worst case is confirmed would be disposed toward buying it off you for parts or repair.
Don't get hung up on the perceived value of the summer and winter wheels/tires. I doubt they are a size that is currently in great demand.
If you are going that far, why not just pull the spark plugs buy a breaker bar and try to turn the motor over by hand? Its not only cheaper and probably quicker too with less hassle. Your probably spending $20-30 in tools you could be using in the future
warming up the earth 1 gas fill-up at a time...
You only live once, get a v8

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