Tips to Consider When Buying a Second Hand Engine

Carpart News

Nov 21st, 2018

Tips to Consider When Buying a Second Hand Engine

At some point in your life, you may face the sometimes stressful task of replacing your car's engine. You may find the need to opt for a second-hand engine, whether it's for financial considerations or a question of availability of a suitable engine. Whatever is your reason, the engine you get must be a dependable replacement. Here are a few pointers to consider along the way. 

What do I need to prepare? 

Try to find out as much as you can about your car before you make any phone calls or enquiries about a replacement engine. At a minimum, have the following info at hand:

  • The year the car was made
  • The vehicle model
  • How many cylinders does your engine have?
  • Is it diesel or petrol?
  • Does the vehicle have standard aspiration, a turbocharger or a supercharger? 

Where do I start looking?

Contact your mechanic

The ways to find a replacement engine vary. If you are not mechanically inclined, you can have your mechanic find a supplier for you. If they have been in the trade for any length of time, they’ll be able to locate one for you and confirm all of the relevant details to source the correct unit. Some garages do not mind sourcing the engines, while others will find it then pass on the contact number of the supplier to you so that you can complete the purchase and arrange payment and delivery of the unit. 

Refer to the Yellow Pages

Another option is to pick up your local yellow pages and find the pages dedicated to vehicle breaker yards, make some phone calls and hope you stumble upon one that has your particular engine in stock. This is a hit and miss process and, depending on your luck, can work out in your favour. 

Look online

The third option is to use the Internet to locate your replacement engine. Car parts finder websites are particularly helpful. Log on, enter your contact details, enter the details of the engine you are looking for and submit your request. These websites are usually tied in with loads of suppliers who pay a monthly subscription fee to the site to be able to see your offers. 

The advantage to this type of search is that with one entry you’re primarily contacting a mass group of companies who will in turn either call you or email you with quotes for what you are looking for, hence giving you options in terms of who you choose and which is the best deal. 

One word of advice when using a web service to find your engine, do not merely say yes to the first company to give you a quote – give the site time to do its work and get as many quotes as you can before deciding. 

I’ve found a replacement engine online. What now?

Once payment is made, and delivery is made, make sure your mechanic thoroughly looks over the supplied unit to make sure it will do the job as needed. 

Remember, you have bought a second-hand engine, not a reconditioned one or a new one, so it is reasonable to have an engine delivered that looks less than pristine. Carbon in the exhaust ports is standard as the engine was running in a car before it was removed and sent to you. Also, there may be slight oil leaks or other external wear and tear that would all be considered standard on a second-hand engine. 

Used engines are generally purchased at a cheaper cost than a new or recon unit, so expect to do a bit of cleaning up. Externally, how pretty an engine looks has no bearing on how it will perform once installed. Some engines look like they just rolled off the showroom floor, but after installation, a worn part fails, and you're back to square one. On the other hand, engines may look like they’ve been through war but can run for years without a single problem.

Tips to Consider When Buying a Second-hand Car

Many people fantasize about having a new car, yet not everyone can afford it. An alternative is to buy a pre-owned vehicle at a lower price tag. Before you buy a used vehicle, you must examine it thoroughly so that there are no issues with it, as it could either be excellent value for money or a total waste of money. 

What should I look out for?  

Gas mileage

The first thing to check out is the odometer readout, which will give you an indication of the use of the car, its condition and potential problems that may follow. Look through all the documents cautiously and don’t be frightened to ask questions to ensure that you don’t wind up with a stolen car.

Water leaks

Water leaks can substantially reduce the value of a car you're buying. How do you find out if there's a leak? Simple, look beneath it. 

Evidence of previous crashes

If a car has had an accident, it can pose hazards and even fatality. Look for irregular sides on the body of the auto and make sure that the doors suit the cars and truck effectively. 


If a car is rusted, it’s best sent to the wreckers. The seller might try and revamp the rust by repainting it. The car might look beautiful from the outside, but look carefully around tyre arches because this is where rust is most likely to hide. Also, check for rust under the body.