When buying a second hand engine its important to know what to look for to make sure you’re making a good investment. Before you even get to the inspection stage, it’s a good idea to choose your source well.
Best place to buy used engines
If you need an engine that will last and won’t have you forking out another few thousand dollars for another one sooner than you could say ‘crappy engine’, I advise you to buy from engine wholesalers. Engine wholesalers or importers specialize in searching for, hand picking and testing each and every engine before offering it for sale. (I know that’s our process anyway.) Most also offer warranties.
Buying anywhere else is risky.
Complete or Disassembled?
It’s also a good idea to buy an engine that is complete and not disassembled into various parts. You will have a better chance of detecting any issues with a complete engine when everything is attached where it should be. It also allows you to complete a run/bench test on manual pump engines.
What to look for and how to test it before you buy
There are things you can do yourself to check the engine before handing over your hard earned cash.
The easiest way to check the quality of the engine is to follow the same checking and testing process we follow with all of our imported engines for sale. Below is a simple checklist for you to follow.
Checklist of what to look for when potentially buying a complete used engine.
Download the printable checklist here: Printable Used Engine Health Test Checklist or keep reading to find the same process we follow on all our engines.
*Note: If you are purchasing a used engine from us, you don’t need to go through this process. Our engine specialist has already completed it for you on all our engines, twice!
- Water Hoses & Jackets -If they look rusty this may be because of lost coolant caused by a blown head gasket. You don’t want this.
- Oil Filler Cap – Make sure it locks into place and feels sturdy.
- Oil Quality – Check the oil itself. If its black and sludgy, it hasn’t been changed often enough and you may want to reconsider buying the engine. If it’s brown, it’ll need an oil change soon. If its mocha or slightly white, this is a sign of a broken head gasket where coolant has been leaking into the oil.
- Inspect Spark Plugs – Healthy spark plugs should be brown/tan in colour. Not black and not light tan-white. Oil on the plugs can indicate a problem with the piston rings.
- Exhaust Manifold – Here you are looking for oil sediment. You don’t want to find any.
- Connection Hoses & Wiring – Have a look all around it and check that all connection hoses and wiring are complete and in good condition.
- Electrodes & Insulators – If these are damaged, destroyed, melted or missing, don’t buy the engine. It is an indication of sever engine damage.
Run/Bench Test (Manual Pump Engines Only)
Keep in mind that with Electronic Fuel Pump engines you won’t be able to do a run the engine outside of the car.
- Compression Test – Using a compression tester test the compressions of the cylinders when they are running. If you are experienced, you may be able to tell if the compression is good without a tester but by just running the engine. Keep in mind a cold engine will have less compression than a warm engine.
- Leaks – Also while the engine is running, make sure there are no oil or water leaks.
- Sound – When the engine is running try to listen for any unusual rattling or knocking sounds as this may be an indicator that parts have come loose or are rubbing somewhere.
- Turbocharger (if applicable) –Inspect the turbine for a broken compression shaft or damaged wheel.
Quick demo video
Check out the quick video demonstration below from our engine specialist Rupert testing a KIA 2900 to see how to go about the checking process on an electronic fuel pump engine. The same process can be done on a manual pump engine but with the addition of a run/bench test mentioned above.
How can I tell the Mileage on a used engine?
I’m so glad you asked. Find out here in our previous blog.
If you’re currently looking to buy a second hand engine you can trust to be of good quality, check out our range that have already gone through the health testing process twice!