Ive had it for a year now and a check engine light came on they found a misfire which will require a rebuilt engine. I need to get rid of this car quick as it can go out any day. I owe 8000 on it and it's worth about 5,000. I have a 620 credit. I could...

  • Sell the car on Craigslist and pay the difference and get into a new car loan.
  • Trade in the car even though I'll be upside down
  • Buy a rebuilt engine which will cost around 3,500 give or take.

I'm leaning more towards trading it in can anyone give me some pointers on how to get the best deal? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  • 4
    Have you gotten a second opinion on the repairs yet?
    – mikeazo
    Feb 12, 2016 at 3:44
  • I would seek another opinion about the engine rebuild. I'm not a mechanic but I know my way and I find it realy suspicious a miss fire lead to an engine rebuilld. Maybe you can ask at Mechanic.SE about some other guy to pin point you. Anyway I would seek another opinion before doing anything more with the car
    – Rémi
    Feb 12, 2016 at 13:52
  • No I didn't I took it to Michael cheverlot and they are reputable.
    – monique
    Feb 12, 2016 at 17:15
  • 1
    Who told you it was worth $5000? Is that what the dealership said they would give you for it (as is) on a trade-in, or is that $5000, after a $3,500 engine rebuild? To really answer your question as to whether or not it is worth it to fix the car, we would need to know a lot more about it's reliability history, mileage, etc. You definitely don't want to drop $3500 today only to have to change the transmission in a few months. Needing an engine rebuild on a 2008 seems crazy and may be indicative of other future costly repairs.
    – mikeazo
    Feb 12, 2016 at 17:47

2 Answers 2


I know, this isn't a direct answer to your question about unloading a used car-- I've always donated it to charity and written off the price it got at auction on my taxes -- but I think the following might be useful to anyone facing a big repair bill:

You know your car's condition. (If in doubt, pay your mechanic to evaluate it "as if he was considering buying it for his daughter".)

If you were shopping for a used car, and you found one exactly like yours, in exactly the same condition, treated exactly as well as you treat yours (and with all the records to prove that), but with the repairs already done... how much would you be willing to pay for it?

If that number is more than the repair cost, repairing is a good deal.

If it's less than the repair cost, is it enough less to justify the hassle of car shopping? If so, unload it and use the repair money to buy something better.

If it's in the middle... flip a coin, or pick whichever makes you feel better.


I'm leaning more towards trading it in can anyone give me some pointers on how to get the best deal?

Information is key to getting the best deal possible. That is why I would strongly suggest getting a second opinion on the repairs. A misfire could be caused by many things. From cheap (bad spark plugs or cables) to mid-range cost (timing is off) to expensive (not getting proper compression in the cylinders due to mechanical issues that could require an engine rebuild). Also, car diagnostics is not an exact science, so it is definitely worth checking with another mechanic. You trust the first place you took it too, which is great. You taking it to another place does not represent a lack of trust, it represents knowing that humans are fallible and car repair diagnostics are not perfect either.

Once you have quotes from 2 or 3 places for the repair work, you are in a much better position to negotiate.

The next step is to see how much it will cost to replace the thing. Get actual quotes for trade-in from dealers, and you must disclose the engine troubles to them when getting this quote. $8,000 minus this amount is how much you are under water. Add that to the price of the car you would like to purchase to know how much of a loan you will have to take out (minus any downpayment).

The next thing to consider is how you manage your risk from there. Your new car will be under-water too. Can you even get a loan? Will you need additional collateral or gap insurance to get the loan? What happens if you get in an accident the next day and total this car?

Once you have all of this information, you are ready to really start thinking about the decision to be made. Things to consider: How reliable has the HHR been up to now? You don't want to put $3,500 into it now only to have to spend a few grand more in a month to replace the transmission. It is hard for us to know this as we don't know how long you have had it, what troubles you have had in the past, how well you have taken care of it (regular oil changes and maintenance). Keshlam is right about asking mechanics to check for other problems and scheduled maintenance that has not been done (e.g., timing belts replaced).

Once you have made your decision, remember that everything is negotiable if you are wiling to walk away. If you decide to keep the car, try to get a better deal on the repairs by checking out other repair shops. If you decide to buy another car and get rid of this one, both the sale price of the new car and the trade-in price of the HHR are negotiable. Shop around and put in the work to buy something that will last a at a good price.

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