A blown engine doesn't mean the demise of your car. Even without extensive auto repair knowledge, you can take advantage of the cost savings of going used. If you don't know how to pull an engine from a junkyard car yourself, you can source one for less than new through a used parts dealer. This is what you need to know before handing over the cash.
Tip #1: Know Your Car
It's not always as simple as knowing the year, model and make of your car when it comes to replacing the engine. Often, two or more engines may be used in the same make of car. The only way to know for sure is to look under the hood and verify that the new engine is the same as the old one. If you aren't sure what to look for, your mechanic can tell you exactly what type of engine you need.
Tip #2: Check the Mileage
Mileage is a key indicator of how good a used engine is. Before purchasing, check for the expected engine life for your model. Just like any used car purchase, the lower the miles the better. Generally, you want to find an engine that still has at least half its expected lifetime miles on it.
Use parts dealers will often provide mileage information if they have it available. If you're picking the engine up from a junkyard, ask to verify the mileage on the vehicle before they pull the engine for you.
Tip #3: Inspect for Damage
The best used engine comes from a car with light body damage and low miles. Look for a car with rear or side damage, which means everything under the hood is likely in good condition. Often, a low-mileage car is totaled due to the high cost of repairing body damage, so finding a pristine, low-mileage engine isn't as difficult as it sounds.
Damage goes two ways, though. You also need to make sure the engine is in good shape. Skip the purchase if there is visible rust or orange stains on the engine. Also, inspect the engine for visible damage, such as punctures. Some used parts dealers warranty their parts, which can provide additional peace of mind.
Tip #4: Look at the Fluids
If you have a chance to get under the hood of the junked car, check the fluids. By law, junkyards must drain the oil pan. Often some oil is still visible either in the pan or on the dipstick, though. If the oil appears translucent, even if it's dirty, and there is no white or milky residue, chances are the engine is in good condition.
Make sure the coolant in the car is green or orange, as well. Water in the coolant reservoir means overheating, which likely put stress on the engine and may have led to some internal corrosion.
Before deciding to go used, verify that your mechanic will install a used engine. Most do, although you may need to sign waivers on the warranty since they will only cover the labor. Also, check that the return policy with the used parts dealer or junkyard. Many don't allow returns, or will only return a portion of the purchase price. If you're looking for a used car parts dealer in your area, visit Southwest Auto Salvage.