Tough call on replacing engine of beloved car

Dear Car Talk: Should we sink $12,000 into a new engine for our 2016 Volkswagen EOS? It has 95,000 miles on it, and we really enjoy it. Or do we unload it and buy some other cute, used convertible with unknown hidden issues?

Here’s more of the story: We bought a used 2016 VW EOS with 85,000 miles on it. What a fun car!

Now, at 95,000 miles and a year later, the engine sucks oil, but there’s no signs of an external leak. We add about a quart of oil every other gas fill-up.

Recently, we had a “check engine” light come on that said there was a misfire. We took it to the dealership, they said the compression was bad in two cylinders, and we need A WHOLE NEW ENGINE!

Can you help us decide what to do? — Suzie

Suzie: Tough call, Suzie. But, if you really like the car, and it’s otherwise in good shape (be sure they give it a thorough inspection to answer that question), you might want to put a new engine in it.

Here’s one way to think of it: If you could get another 60,000 miles of it, would that be worth $12,000? A new engine would last a lot longer than that, but you have to keep in mind that the rest of the car has 95,000 miles on it. So, the other parts won’t last forever.

But that may be a reasonable price. If you’re only putting 10,000 miles a year on the car, that’s another six years, or $2,000 a year — instead of buying a newer car — which will add taxes, registration fees and higher insurance premiums. And, keep in mind, the EOS is worth next to nothing as a used car now, because it needs an engine.

You can also do some “engine shopping.” A brand-new engine from the dealer — while the best option — also definitely will be the most expensive option.

You might find a local shop near you that specializes in VWs, and may be able to save you money on a remanufactured engine, or even a low-mileage used engine.

It’ll still be thousands of dollars, because the labor is significant. And if the cost between a remanufactured engine and a genuine VW is a thousand bucks or two, I’d opt for the VW engine. But, if you can get a remanufactured engine installed for thousands less, that’d be worth considering, too.

That way, when the rearview mirror falls off, the headrests disintegrate, and the transmission dies at 150,000, you won’t kick yourself nearly as hard, Suzie.

Dear Car Talk: I have a Kia Forte with about 110,000 miles on it. When it’s raining and I am using the air conditioner or defroster — along with the wipers — when I come to a stop, the battery light will come on and the car will stall. I can then restart it.

This has been going on for a couple of years, and I have taken it in for repair only to be told they “cannot replicate the issue.” They say it’s not raining. I am a single woman and don’t want to be taken advantage of. What would you suggest? — Sandi

Sandi: Well, you might consider hiring an offensive lineman from the Detroit Lions in the off season and asking him to go in with you.

It can be hard to know what’s causing your problem without seeing it misbehave in the shop. So, you should expect to pay them for some diagnostic time. But there are several things your shop can check, even without “replicating the problem.”

It could be as simple as something causing a low idle speed. If a small vacuum leak or gummed up throttle body were causing the engine to idle just a bit too slowly, you wouldn’t have any problem under normal circumstances.

But, when you put a heavy electrical load on the engine — the AC, defroster, lights and wipers — it could be enough to cause the engine to stall. And, typically, the battery light will flash just before the car stalls.

Try explaining to the shop that the car stalls under heavy load in the rain and ask them to check for anything that might cause a low idle. Or, if you get the feeling that they’re just not interested enough in figuring it out for you, find a new shop at, and go there, Sandi.

Got a question about cars? Write to Ray in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email by visiting the Car Talk website at

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