Hello everyone, recently my niece needed to buy a new car with a price range of about $4000. And I was helping her because she was living with me at the time and I wanted her to get a good, reliable car that would last her at least the next several years and start right up every time she hopped in. At length after searching here and there, both with dealers and private sellers, she found a 2007 Jetta Wolfsburg edition for sale in Facebook's marketplace. We went out and met the guy and test drove the car. It was really nice and clean and seemed to run very well. So I told her I thought it was good deal for her price range so I recommended it to her and she bought it. We are both very pressed for time and I never did take it to a mechanic. It had and still has about 148,000 miles. It is a 2.5L engine, or at least that's the number underneath the right taillight.
Well, after about a week we took it on the highway for the first time and the "Check Engine" light (the little orange picture of an engine) came on. So I took it to the local VW dealer, and was kind of shocked with what they had to say: they told me the previous owner(s) didn't really take good care of the car; and the "Check Engine" light was on because the upper timing belt, tensioners, guides, and gaskets need to be replaced, as well as the valve cover assembly. And then it needs an oil and filter change, which is trivial by comparison, at a total cost of over $2,100. They gave me a whole list of other stuff, too, which is just not worth doing, considering the price of the car - but this was the minimum needed to get the light to turn off.
So I took it to a local auto & tire place for a second opinion, and they told me they downloaded code 00017 and they thought the engine was running a little too rough or lean but thought it was within reasonable parameters and reset the light for me. I showed them the list the VW dealer had given me, and they couldn't promise me that it wasn't true but they didn't think the oil was dirty or that the engine was running particularly bad.
Then the light came back on when my niece was driving the car later on in the day.
So what do you think we should do? Does anyone here have any experience with this type of problem? Is it safe or reasonable for her to drive this car? Is the dealer telling me the truth or just yanking me around? Should I advise her to ask her parents for the money (I can't afford it myself and neither can she) to have it fixed? What is the risk if I tell her to just drive the car and not worry about it?
I know sometimes people with any model of car will drive with their "Check Engine" light on and they seem to get away with it.
Any help you can give would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.