Buying Re-useable Engines

Buying Re-useable Engines

Buying a used engine can be a great solution, but it is important to not get caught with a dud. Here we will go through some of the things to consider. We will cover the many potential benefits, but consider how to avoid the problem engine, or at the least protect yourself from the cost of some potential problems.

Once again it is important to think about duty cycle of the specific engine you need. An important statement is that “not all engines are created equal”. It is definitely the case that engine reliability has improved over the years and a modern engine is far more reliable and lasts much longer than some of the early engines. This is due to a range of things such as better metals, plastics and composites along with superior engineering tolerances. Not to mention the advancements of electronics, fuel injection and a host of other factors. But still even the modern engine fails after a given amount of work or due to a weak point that causes it to end its life.


Knowing the general lifetime or duty cycle of your engine is a very important factor. This will help you to choose an engine that has many good kilometres to travel in its life. How do you know what that life is likely to be? If your engine has not been mistreated and has had a basic failure, then it is potentially a good gauge of two things.

  1. The expected kilometres
  2. The likely fail points

If you serviced your engine at the right times and know that it was pretty well looked after before you got it, you may be able to use this as a gauge. One thing about the modern manufacturing process carried out by most carmakers is that it is pretty consistent. Most of the parts will last a similar amount of time given the same sort of treatment or handling. So if your vehicle has 350K on the clock and the engine is tired and blowing smoke after being serviced well all its life, then you would not want to buy a second hand engine with 300K on it. It is also important to note that if you look at XYZ vehicle around a particular age and observe it blowing smoke, it is amazing how you start to see the same vehicles of the same age also blowing smoke. This is an indication that the particular vehicle’s engine is at the end of its useful life.

The great thing about used engines that may have been secured from a collision, is that they may have sat there on the shelf waiting for the next owner for quite a few years and may be much lower in kilometres than the average vehicle out there now. But rather than guess at it, it is wise to make sure that the wrecker/dismantler offering the engine gives you the kilometres the vehicle has travelled before being taken for parts. Generally speaking if the vehicle is a written off vehicle it pays the dismantler to be honest about the details. This is because it is possible to check those details online through various services. for example. This will give you the kilometres travelled and the status of the donor vehicle. Also it should tell if the vehicle was a water damaged write off. All you need to know is the VIN number (Vehicle Identification Number). You can use this to purchase a report on the vehicle if you are in doubt about the life the engine has had.

If your engine failed due to a leaking rear main seal, then make sure to look carefully at the same features of the engine you are being offered. A few of the things to look for on any engine that you plan to purchase is as follows:

Open the oil filler cap and look inside at the top of the cap. If it has a white or creamy substance inside it is a big potential problem. This indicates the engine has water in the oil. This is likely to mean that the engine is worn out. Or has been damaged beyond easy repair.

Look for leaking oil at key places such as the front of the motor near the pullies attached to the front of the engine. Look for oil leaks at the rear of the engine under the main bearing at the back. Look for any general leaks that may appear around the sump or valley or rocker covers. In short any obvious oil leaks are not a good sign. Also look at the general appearance of the engine. Does it look clean, or is it dirty and oily. Likewise if you see any burnt marks anywhere steer clear. If the engine is a petrol engine put your finger inside the exhaust manifold if there is one fitted or into the exhaust outlets and see what is there. If your finger comes out with thick black carbon on it or the deposit looks dark and sooty then the motor was not running well. If it is a light grey, thin film then it is likely a better sign. For an engine that might have spent some of its life on LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) Remember that this can cause an engine to run pretty hot; especially if it is not fitted or tuned well. Spark plugs can be another great indicator of engine condition. Are they consistent in colour from one plug to the next? Are they looking oily, black and fouled? An expert can quickly see an issue via the condition of the plugs in an engine.

If you are getting an engine fitted by a local mechanic, it can be a great idea for the mechanic to drop by and check the motor. This can allow the mechanic to assess some of these factors listed above. An important thing to remember is that fitting the motor will cost you money. Most mechanics will generally be happy to make a few of these quick checks prior to fitting the engine.  Most mechanics do not want a fit to go wrong because they know it will lead to a lot of conflict with their customer.

Car-Auto Engine Warranty

What happens in the event of an engine failure should always be considered prior to completing the purchase or fitting of the engine. Consider getting some warranty over this sort of contingency. Most reputable dismantlers/wreckers will give you a warranty that says that if the engine fails catastrophically in the first month or so you can get your money back. But generally this won’t cover the cost of fitting. So it may be worth considering a better standard of warranty that covers you for longer and for parts and labour. A warranty like this will do two things. It will give you some peace of mind and secondly give you some confidence that the company that sold you the engine also believes it is a good engine. A company will be unlikely to give an extensive warranty on a motor that they are worried will come back.


*The information on this site is based on the personal views and experiences of the author and are in no way an endorsement or critical appraisal of any particular supplier, product brand  or service provider.  The individual may experience quite different results in any of these areas than that of the author. Both paid and unpaid advertisements may appear on this site.  The author takes no responsibility for the performance of products and service provided by paid or unpaid advertisers or posters on this site.  Any person that uses information on this site uses this information at their own risk.