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Buying a Used Engine | Pick-A-Part Jalopy Jungle

Buying a Used Engine | Pick-A-Part Jalopy Jungle

Used engines are a good option if you need to replace the engine in your vehicle and are working on a tight budget. Auto recyclers sell complete engine assemblies from cars they take in, but since they do not always know the history of the engine, you need to take the time to check the engine out before you spend any money.

Here are some actions you should take before you buy an engine from an auto recycler.

Verify the Mileage

The best way to verify the mileage on an engine you are considering is to run a vehicle history report on the VIN (vehicle identification number) of the car that the engine is coming from. If the engine is already out of the vehicle, you may have to trust the recycler on the mileage. If you are dealing with a professional operator, they’ll provide you with accurate data. 

Check the Condition of the Oil

The engine oil can tell you a lot about the condition of the internal parts. Oil that smells burnt is most likely a sign of an engine that has gotten hot or neglected oil changes by the previous driver. The engine may be fine, but you have to decide if you want to take a chance or not.

To check the texture of the oil, pull the dipstick out of the engine, and put a little oil between your finger and thumb. If the oil feels gritty, there is dirt, metal, or other material in the oil and most likely in the crankshaft, rod, and cam bearings. Grit in the oil is another reason to walk away from the engine.

Check for Oil Leaks

Take a good look at the outside of the engine. Oil leaks around the crankshaft seals, in the front or rear of the engine, can indicate an engine that will to need work before you can use it. If you want to place the engine straight into your care without rebuilding it, you don’t want an engine with oil leaks.

Check the valve covers and around the intake manifold for oil or evidence of leaks as well. While a valve cover gasket is easy to replace, it is still crucial that you know the leak is there when you buy the engine.

Check the Coolant

The coolant in the engine can tell a story as well. If the coolant is clear, it is more than likely just water. While water is sometimes better than an empty coolant tank, water will not protect the engine and water jackets as well as coolant will. You need to look closely at the coolant to see if there is any oil in it as well. Oil in the coolant is a sign of a bad head gasket and potential damage to the engine.

Check for Movement in the Engine

You need to check the engine to ensure it is free inside and turns over properly. A seized engine is not a bargain or even an okay buy. Put a socket and breaker bar on the end of the crankshaft and manually turn the engine over. If the engine doesn't turn over, you do not want it. 

While a sized engine is repairable in some situations, the time and money involved are not usually worth the effort. If you only need the block and are going to have the engine remanufactured, you may be able to use a seized motor, but only as an absolute last resort.

If you are confident in the engine, talk to the recycler about the price and what comes with the engine. Sometimes the recycler will sell the engine as a complete assembly, and that can be worth paying a little more for. 

At Pick-A-Part Jalopy Jungle, you can buy a complete engine for your car or truck, and we have hundreds to choose from. Give us a call to discuss your engine needs, or come down to the yard, and we will be happy to show you some options.