Top 5 Tips for Buying a Used Car Engine

Used Car Engine

"Wow, this car runs like new again!"

When your car's engine stops working, it feels like you might never say that again, right?

But for many people, the option of buying a used engine, either online or in person, is an appealing alternative to spending a ton of money on a new engine from a repair shop.

And certainly more appealing than buying a new car!

If you're interested in looking for a used engine for your car, there are some important steps you should take. It will ensure that you get a good deal on the right used engine for you. 

Sound like info you could use? Keep reading to find out more!

Consult a Mechanic

It might seem counter-intuitive to go to a mechanic to talk about the engine you'll buy from someone else. But having a trusted mechanic take a look at your car is actually a great first step.

First off, they might catch a problem with your car that's unrelated to the engine. This could save you trouble down the road. The last thing you want is to assume that you bought a bad used engine just because there's something else going on.

Secondly, they can help you collect and log all the vital information about your current engine, so you know what exact engine you'll be on the lookout for.

Finding the Right Engine 

Next, you'll want to find a used engine that matches what your car needs. There will definitely be engines for sale that are close to what you want but don't fit the specs exactly.

Some manufacturers make engines for their similar models that are very close to each other in terms of specs. So that's something to be wary of. 

Start by making sure you have your car's VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) available. If you are shopping at a salvage yard, for example, they can often look at specific characters in your VIN for clues as to which engine you need.

Make sure you know the right size. This info is generally labeled on the top of the engine, so it should be fairly easy to find. 

It'll be measured in liters, so your engine will likely have a measurement of something like "2.5L" on it. You'll need that same size when you buy your used engine. 

You also need to know whether the car is an automatic transmission or a manual transmission.

This is fairly obvious if it's a car you already drive. But it'll be helpful as you are looking online for engines. Look for "MT" and "AT" when you are shopping around online. 

And be sure to figure out when you need a long block engine or a short block engine. A long block engine refers to situations where you need a complete engine. A short block means you only need to buy certain parts of the engine.

Make Sure the Used Engine Has Necessary Parts

Before buying a used engine, you'll want to make sure it has all the parts necessary. Here are the essential components that you'll need to look for.

  • Both the intake and exhaust valves. 
  • Pistons, which need to be inside cylinder sleeves. It also needs piston rings, which are what seal the area between the cylinder and the piston.
  • Spark plugs, which are the mechanism for sparking the engine's combustion. 
  • A crankshaft, which makes the pistons move up and down. It also needs a connecting rod that connects the pistons to the crankshaft.
  • A sump, which is a reservoir with stored oil in it.

If the engine for sale has all of these parts, then you can feel better about purchasing it. 

Mileage and Warranty

Don't forget to check the mileage on the used engine you are purchasing. 

Engines that have been used less will obviously have less wear and tear. So you'll want to have an accurate reading of the engine's mileage, which you can get by doing a vehicle-history report.

You should also consider buying an extended warranty to go along with your used engine purchase. Even if you trust the reputation of the seller, it's always good to make sure you are covered in case it's not a good engine.

Look at the Costs and the Seller

Once you've found the used engine you'd like to buy, make sure that the seller is a legit source of car engines. You don't want to purchase a stolen engine, for example. 

Be ready to ask the seller a lot of questions about the engine and about their business. Make sure the engine itself is ready for installation and isn't in need of repair or parts itself.

Next, be sure you've budgeted enough for the additional costs associated with buying a used engine. 

Most sellers will require a core deposit (usually between $50-500) which is to make sure you bring your old engine to them. They can usually take parts of your old engine and repurpose them. You'll get this money back when you bring your engine in.

Next, you might need to pay shipping costs, assuming you aren't buying from a local vendor. Put aside anywhere from $125 to $250 to pay for shipping costs, depending on how far away the engine is being shipped from. 

Keep Your Used Engine Running Smooth

At the end of the process, it's a good idea to have your trusted mechanic take a look at the engine. They'll be able to ensure that you bought a proper, working used engine. 

Plus you can have them install it for you!

Hopefully, these tips make you feel more confident about seeking out and buying a used engine for your car.

Whether you are buying online or in person, it's important to get the right engine and to buy from someone reputable. You don't want to buy a used engine only to discover it's not the right one for your car, or that it doesn't work!

If you have any questions, or want to learn more about buying used engines, contact us today!

12 Feb 2019