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My Elantra XD 2003 120K engine overheated - cylinder head got bent - now I gotta convince my wife not to junk it and buy a different newer car ~5 years old.

I've been advised to buy a replacement engine from a salvage yard - since there's about the same labor in an engine swap as a cylinder head replacement. While a mechanic is installing the new engine I'll figure I'll take care of the waterpump, timing belt, thermostat, plugs, wires, other big things?

My wife is worried about the reliability of the Elantra when the swap is done. Once the new engine is in, how reliable will the car be? In other words, if it's going to be as reliable as a typical 2003 Elantra XD - if I were to drive it 4k miles/year - what is the chance of breaking down on the road? How much less reliable than a typical 5 year old used car will it be?

Roughly how many hours of labor would a garage charge to change the engine?

So I know this sounds silly - but how do I find a mechanic who can switch the engine out at a reasonable price in Central NJ? I have a garage in the backyard to keep the car while it's being worked on if need be. A friend suggested craigslist - but this just sounds dodgy- how do you really know if a mechanic is any good?
 

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A junkyard motor will be a risk since you never really know what you will get. My advice is to call several places for estimates and go from there.


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