Unfortunately, a used car can quickly turn into a junk car within a moment’s notice. Once a much-needed repair costs more than the car’s value, it’s then that its owner has to make a difficult decision. Any engine failure will be a costly fix, but how do you know it’s time to say goodbye to your car?

How To Know When It’s Time To Junk Your Car

Before you can determine if it’s time to dump your car, you’ll need a good idea of its resale value. Then, you can decide whether it is worth spending the money on repairs or if doing so is throwing good money after bad.

The easiest way to find your car’s value is to use an online car value calculator. Simply pop in some details about its make, model, and year, along with its condition, and within seconds, you’ll have an idea of its value. If you’ve already gotten a quote on the repairs your car needs, if it’s equal to half of your car’s value or more, that’s a big red flag that the expenses may not be worth it to get it back on the road.

Typical Engine Failure Issues

Several issues could cause a vehicle’s engine to fail. If you’re a Golden State car owner who’s realized it’s time to throw in the towel and wants to make the most profit, you can sell your junk car in California to a specialized dealer. They’ll buy any vehicle regardless of age, mileage, or appearance.

However, if you want to investigate the problem deeper, below are some typical failures you should consider. Some are quick and inexpensive fixes, while others could hit your wallet harder than a professional boxer. Depending on the culprit and the cost, knowing your vehicle’s value will help you decide your next move. It’s important to note that not all junk cars look like junk. A great-looking newer vehicle with a much-needed costly repair equal to half its value is still a junk car.


A prevalent type of engine failure with older cars is overheating. A combustion engine generates a lot of heat, and it’s essential to keep it cool to ensure that it’s not damaged. If the heat isn’t dispersed, engine failure will occur, causing much damage. Driving a car with an overheated engine could cause the engine block to crack or damage the pistons. Issues like these will sometimes require the entire machine to be replaced. Causes of an overheating engine can include:
  • Cooling system leaks
  • Driving with too little coolant
  • Broken water pump
  • Thermostat failure
  • Damaged radiator

Broken Timing Belt

A broken timing belt will cause engine failure. An engine’s timing belt has a lifespan of approximately 60k to 100k miles, and most older cars have way more mileage than this. It will eventually fail if your vehicle is still running on its original timing belt. Broken timing belts are a common issue with junk cars, and due to the cost of replacement, it’s not worth the expense most of the time. Installation of a new belt can cost upwards of $500.

Hydrolocked Engine

Owners of older cars who live in areas with excessive rain or those that are prone to flooding can end up with what’s known as a hydrolocked engine. This typically occurs when driving the vehicle down a flooded road, and water gets into the engine’s cylinders or pistons. Once this happens, the pistons are usually damaged. Repairing a hydrolocked engine is expensive and could easily cost $3000 or more.

Damaged Alternator

If you’re having trouble getting your old car to start, a likely culprit is the engine’s alternator. It’s a necessary part of the engine and converts movement into energy. Malfunctioning alternators are typical in older vehicles, and if they do not work correctly, the engine won’t start. Unfortunately, depending on your car, they can be pretty expensive to replace and run you upwards of $600.

Faulty Starter

If an engine’s starter isn’t working, the car won’t run. It’s required to get the engine rotating so that it can suck in air and fuel to begin the combustion process so that it can run on its own. Most won’t have any issues until the vehicle has hit the 80k mile mark, but it could happen sooner. Faulty starters are a common issue for older cars, and replacement costs, depending on a car’s make and model, could be an expensive fix.

Engine Failure and What To Do Next

Engine problems are the bane of owning an older car. Problems such as these can sometimes cost more than an arm and a leg, and depending on the value of the vehicle, it may or may not make sense to dump the money into getting it repaired. If the repair cost equals more than the vehicle’s resale value, selling it is a wiser choice. The problem with older cars is that their repair costs over time usually far outweigh the vehicles’ value.

If you have a vehicle with engine failure issues, selling it to a specialized dealer that purchases junk cars is best. They’ll come to you, tow it away, and leave you with more money than a junkyard would pay. Don’t dump cash into a vehicle that’s become a money pit; sell it to a specialized junk car dealer.