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Used Engines

Buying a used engine can be an extremely intimidating experience particularly if you have limited automotive knowledge. But armed with some useful tips and vital pieces of information each of us can be in a position to make a decision as good as any expert.

Do you really need to buy a used engine?

This may seem obvious but before buying a used engine, make sure that you actually need a replacement used engine. I cant tell you how many times we’ve come across customers who have replaced their engines only to find that the root cause lied elsewhere.

Have your car diagnosed buy a reputable mechanic or garage for confirmation. This will certainly come at a small cost but believe me paying to have it checked first could certainly save you a great deal of money in the long run. Trying to find a mechanic that specializes in your type car is also a good idea. Many garages will have experience in particular makes and models or often specialise in particular types and as a result will be familiar with the common faults and can quickly diagnose them. Talk with the mechanic first and agree on a price to diagnose the problem, make sure you and him are both well aware tha no work is to be done until you okay it. This will rule out unexpected or unexplained repair bills when you pick your car up.

Once your mechanic confirms that it is indeed your engine that is the problem, ask him why. Find out as much as you can about the problem that caused it to fail and what’s actually wrong with it. Is it just the engine thats failed or have any of the ancillaries failed too? This will all help you with your search which we will address in the next section.

Finding what you need

So now you know you need a replacement used engine. The price the garage quoted you is pretty expensive or maybe they can’t find one for you. So what now? That’s where you come in! Before you start your search, make sure your mechanic doesnt have a problem installing a used engine you provide. Also check what his policies are about installing an engine you provide, every garage is different so its very important to know before hand. Ask the garage if you can have the engine shipped to them as most people dont want an engine on there doorstep and it also saves on freight charges

Now its time to find that engine. A quick google search of the engine you need will return a great deal of websites who offer used engines for sale and will request your vehicle registration number. Nothing to worry about here, this is just to verify the exact details of your vehicle including the details of the engine inside it to ensure they supply you with the correct used engine. Often you will find that you will be able to get a great deal of quotes varying greatly in price and in length of warranty. It can be very confusing for someone that’s not familiar with buying car engines. Its very tempting to jump to the cheapest price at this stage but this can be very dangerous. First try to narrow it down, ignore the prices for now and narrow your quotes down according to the company information: Are they a Ltd company? How long have they been trading? Do they have online reviews? Are they VAT registered? Once you’ve answered these questions on the suppliers who have quoted you will quickly find that you’ve narrowed down the results quite dramatically.

Important point to remember at this stage. You will often come across a number of companies who ask you to pay by Bank Transfer or cash on collection and will even offer a discount to do so. This is a MASSIVE NO NO since you have zero protection in case an issue may develop. Only ever elect to pay preferably by a credit card, mastercard, paypal or a debit card with the VISA stamp since each of these methods offers you a great deal of buyer protection.

Once you have it narrowed down by the companies its time to compare what each of these companies is actually offering you. Here a few important points to consider when deciding on the right engine for you:

• Was the used engine removed from a running vehicle? If it has been its certainly a bonus since they have the opportunity to hear the engine running to ensure there isnt any sort misfire, smoking or rattles of any sort.

• What mileage has it covered? Is there any sort of proof to verify this mileage?

• How much warranty is offered? The longer the better.

• What does the engine come with? Two terms used in the industry here are ‘bare engines’ and ‘complete engines’. The first being an engine without any ancillaries at all e.g. starter, alternator, fuel pump, injectors, turbocharger (where applicable) etc while the latter suggests it comes with everything. There will be of course many engines which will include only certain ancillaries. But as a general rule of thumb ancillaries are not really too important since your mechanic can simply use the ones you have on yours (unless of course there is a failure on one of them which needs to be replaced as well).

Most places will leave valve covers, manifolds and fuel injection on the engine but others may leave bolt on accessories on such as alternators and ac compressors. This may or may not be a good thing depending on your situation. Some may want to use what they already have which means you may encounter more labor fees to remove the old parts from the engine your buying. A very important thing to consider is that your buying an engine that may not be from the same exact year and model with the same options as yours so it’s a very good idea to use the old intake, fuel system and harness from your car and not the one on the engine you buy. This will eliminate problems when the engines in the car and things don’t match.


Shipping for engines is normally done by pallet deliveries since they are too big/heavy to be carried in a small van. Most companies will use a freight shipping company to process all the deliveries of their engines so they will be able to give you an indication of shipping times and have tracking information. When your engine arrives, make sure you or whoever is receiving it knows to check the engine over thoroughly before signing for it. Once the engine has been signed for, you basically agree that no damage has been caused during shipping. If you wait and open the package later on (after you’ve signed) and find that your engines been damaged the freight company will not be able to cover the issue.

Your Used Engine has arrived and is ready to be installed:

Before the install of the engine, have your mechanic look over everything. You want to catch any possible problems before it’s been installed to avoid any later headache. During the installation, have the mechanic keep you posted and make sure he knows to contact you immediately if theres any problems. If a problem does come up, get as much info as you can about the problem and contact your seller. Most sellers will be willing to help you out but will need all the info from you so they can decide on a course of action

Upon hearing the news that the installation of your engine is complete, be sure to thoroughly test drive it! All the hard work you’ve put in deciding should have ensured an overall positive experience with your engine purchase.

Now you have your baby back on the road be sure to regularly service it to keep it in tip-top condition. Happy driving 🙂