Dear Car Talk:
My Volvo 740 GLE's timing belt just broke and my valves are bent, according to my mechanic's diagnostic test. Is there any way that I can just inexpensively have the valves fixed or replaced, instead of buying a whole new engine? My car has over 150,000 miles on it. Thanks. -- Gloria
There's no inexpensive way to fix the valves, Gloria. Bent valves are not like a gate latch that you can straighten out with a hammer and pair of pliers. Valves have to fit precisely in the openings made for them in the cylinder head. And once they're bent, they're ruined, whether you bent one of them or all 16.
However, you don't have to buy a whole new engine. You can simply buy a replacement cylinder head. And by "simply," I still don't mean "cheaply." You'll either need a used cylinder head from a junkyard (aka auto recycling center), or you'll have to buy a remanufactured one from a company like Jasper.
If you can find a good used one, there's no reason not to try it. After all, the rest of the car has 150,000 miles on it. By the time you find it, have it checked out, clean it up, install it and put on a new gasket and timing belt, you're probably in for at least $1,000.
A factory remanufactured cylinder head will probably cost you twice that much when it's all done. But you'll get a warranty with it. I'm guessing you don't have a mechanic you love, Gloria. If you did, you would have asked him these questions. So try searching for a great mechanic in our Mechanics Files database (www.mechanicsfiles.com). Put in your ZIP code and search for a highly rated Volvo mechanic in your area.
Someone like that will probably be more willing than the dealer to work with you, look around for a good used cylinder head and try to save you some money. But don't walk in and try to hand him your pliers, Gloria, or you'll just scare him off.