What To Consider When Buying A Used Engine

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Do you need a new engine? Of course, the first step before getting a replacement engine is to determine if you even need a new engine. First of all, would it be smarter to scrap the car? If swapping the engine is more expensive than a comparable car, then yes – scrap the car. If your car is around $ 4,000, you may need to do some math. When it’s more expensive, you don’t have a choice – a car with an engine failure just isn’t worth much. It can hardly even be called a car. Second – can the engine be overhauled at a reasonable cost? Also, you can learn here about cat engines for sale.

As a practical rule of thumb, if there are metal chips in the bearings or the oil, overhauling the engine is likely to be a mammoth task. If the engine is completely sooty, as is often the case with diesel engines, it could also be difficult to clean it completely. Of course, if the engine block is cracked from overload or a broken connecting rod, the smartest thing to do is to replace the engine. If the oil pump is defective, there is not much hope for the engine either. But what now?

What is the reason for the damage to the old engine? Answer this question to avoid installing a defective part from the old engine into the new one. For example, there have been cases where a mechanic reused the also expensive injectors from the old engine. The problem, however, was that one of these injectors was defective, causing the pistons to melt. To find out why – this may be something that needs to be checked before installing on a new engine. Can you replace the motor yourself? It is of course difficult to answer from our position, but if you are in doubt, the answer is no. This is usually a job for a workshop as it requires specialized tools like a crane, although amateur mechanics claim that using a pulley system to raise the engine over a rafter in the garage is no problem. This is possible, but certainly not optimal.

New, used or reconditioned when buying a replacement engine, you have a few options. A new engine can be ruled out for normal unless the repair is a warranty issue or money is not an issue. Sometimes a reconditioned engine can be worth the money if it is one that has been produced in large numbers. Otherwise, there are numerous used engines whose service life is still far from being reached – for example from damaged cars. Please note that some reconditioned engines are only sold on the condition that you hand over your defective engine to the dealer. This is not fundamentally true, but it is something to look out for. Plus, the price differences between different engines are astronomical. In the case of an in-line four-cylinder, the cost of the engine can, for example, be €2.700, while a V10 for a sports car can cost a few tens of thousands of euros. For a brand new Audi turbo engine, for example, including installation, you can quickly pay a price of around €13,500. In this case, it is more intelligent to opt for a used engine, unless the dealer pays a large part of the bill as a goodwill gesture. Long block or short block when looking for used engines, you will come across the terms long block and short block. A short block is the lower part of an engine – from the crankcase to the cylinder head gasket. It, therefore, does not include the cylinder head, the manifold, or any turbochargers. With a long block you get the complete engine, from the crankcase to the valve cover, but not always including the manifold. With both a short block and a long block, you will have to take some parts with you from the old engine to the new one. With a short block, the old cylinder head must be mounted on the new engine. For that, you need to be sure that this plan is up. Otherwise, it has to be planned. The assembly of the cylinder head varies – some require expansion bolts, others need to be tightened in a specific way so that they do not warp. In this case, it is a little easier to work with a long block.

You may also come across the term ‘turnkey’. This means that the engines have been thoroughly checked for errors and include all parts. This is of course the simplest solution, but also the most expensive.

Check the engine number when ordering a new motor, it is very important to make sure that the motor you ordered is the same as the one you plan to remove – this will make it a lot easier for you anyway. An engine usually has three digits or letters that indicate the type of engine, and of course, these must match; however, the following numbers or letters are also important. If you have to replace the engine control unit, please note that in some cases this means that you have to train the keys to communicate with the engine control unit in the same way as the chip in the keys.

Manifold and turbochargerReputable engine dealers provide you with numerous images of the engines so that you can quickly see what you can reuse. Depending on the engine, the intake manifold, exhaust manifold, and turbocharger may or may not be included. The same applies to the starter, the alternator, or the clutch. The flywheel is usually included. If the turbocharger is included then it is also easy to check it for play. What does it mean when an engine has been overhauled? Unfortunately, there are no minimum requirements for an engine overhaul. You will read the terms ‘refurbished’ or ‘refurbished’, but there is no consensus on what they mean. So when an engine is said to be obsolete, you’ll have to peek inside and ask questions. Have the cylinders been honed and have the pistons or piston rings been replaced? Have the connecting rod bearings been replaced? Have the main bearings been replaced? Have the cylinder head gaskets been replaced? Have the injectors been replaced? There are many questions to be answered when an engine is offered as reconditioned. You will certainly want to know who carried out the work and whether the engine is being sold with a special guarantee.

Check the clutch and flywheel thoroughly inspect the clutch and flywheels on the new engine and look for wear – the parts are much easier to replace before the engine is installed. Also replace the timing belt, belt tensioners, and any water pump that is driven by the timing belt. If the engine has problems with the timing chain or the chain tensioners, these should be replaced. This can apply to some of the VAG TSI engines or BMW four-cylinder engines built between 2006 and 2011. If an EGR valve is installed, please watch out for soot in this valve and the intake tract – this is also much easier before installation. If you know that this engine has problems with defective dual mass flywheels, consider replacing it with a single mass flywheel. Be aware, however, that doing so increases engine vibration considerably; so if convenience is your priority, this swap is not an option.

Would you like to upgrade to something bigger and more powerful? If you need to buy a motor anyway, why not buy one with more power? You can switch to a motor with a maximum of 20% more power than originally available. You can also go over the 20% limit, but this entails a recalculation of the consumption tax and that could be expensive. This will require approval from the manufacturer and in some cases, you will need new brakes and in other cases, it is not possible to obtain approval without paying expensive inspection fees out of pocket.

Is the mileage correct? In Denmark, the average car drives 14,000 km a year. So be extra vigilant if the mileage is suspiciously low. When buying used engines, the warranty is an important factor, because used engines still cost a lot of money, even if they are cheaper than new ones. Five tips for buying a used engine:

  • Find out the vehicle identification number (VIN), engine number, and transmission number as well as the date of manufacture of your vehicle.
  • Find an engine that meets your criteria while keeping an eye on low mileage.
  • Check to see if the engine is being sold with a warranty – this is preferable for high-value purchases like these.
  • On a gasoline engine, examine the spark plugs to see if they look light brown, clean, and uniform.
  • Look closely at the oil on the dipstick – the oil should be dark and clean.

Chris Evans Author

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