76 how to buy a reconditioned engine the correct way

how to buy a reconditioned engine the correct way

By Jason Unrau on 2018-07-06 18:56:23

A shudder and a shake, a knock, rattle, and your engine clangs to a stop. There’s a finality to it that takes your breath away. This is going to be expensive.

Your engine is likely the most expensive system in your car to repair, with very few exceptions. When something does go very wrong, you have very few choices. You can scrap the car and buy a new one, but who has the money to waste on that? Perhaps you can have a used motor installed, but then there’s no guarantee it’s in good condition. If your engine seizes or otherwise fails catastrophically, your best bet is a replacement.

What Are My Options?

You could buy a new engine for your car. It comes directly from the manufacturer, often known as a crate engine. If you’re looking to spend more than your car is worth, look at this option.

You could purchase a used motor from a recycler. If you go with the used motor option, expect that there will be problems with it at some point. You don’t know the car’s history that it came out of, and there’s no accurate way to determine its condition without stripping it down.

A reconditioned engine is by far your most reliable and cost-effective solution. But what does it even mean to buy a reconditioned engine?

What is a Reconditioned Engine?

The definition of reconditioning is fairly open to interpretation, and that can lead to an engine that isn’t everything you thought it is. Some retailers pass off their engines as reconditioned even though they are more accurately described as refurbished – that is, just the failed problem has been addressed in the engine before it’s being resold. Others might even try to sell you a used engine and call it reconditioned.

There really are just two situations where you can all an engine reconditioned’ honestly. The first is when the engine is completely disassembled and rebuilt with all new internal components. Essentially, only the engine block is reused, meaning the end product is a new engine It’s also known as a remanufactured engine. The second scenario where you can call the engine truly reconditioned is similar: the engine is torn down completely, all its components are inspected and tested, and the engine is reassembled with using a combination of new parts and some of the good used parts that came out of the engine.

But if you’re shopping for a reconditioned engine for your sad, unhealthy car, how do you buy a reconditioned engine the correct way? What should you take note of, and what are some signs that you’re not getting what you think you are?

How to Buy the Reconditioned Engine You Want

Let’s walk through a few things that will help you select a reconditioned engine for your car.


The adage ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’ applies here. If you think you’ve found a reconditioned engine for your car that’s less than you expected, or if one quote is half the price of another, it’s probably not everything it’s cracked up to be.

With a low-priced reconditioned’ engine, you could be getting low-quality rebuild parts inside or a used engine with a band-aid repair. Remember, what you want to get is an engine that’s going to last the foreseeable future. You don’t want to cut corners on that, do you?


Any reconditioned engine from a reputable seller will have a warranty. The amount of warranty offered on a reconditioned motor also indicates what you should expect from the engine itself. If the supplier offers just a 30-day/500-kilometre warranty, it’s probably a used motor you’re getting. What you want from a reconditioned engine is a warranty measured in years, not months. You’ll find the really good options will offer a 3-year/60,000-kilometre warranty included with the price of the reconditioned engine. It could be two years or even five years or more. You want to know that someone has your back if something goes wrong with your engine.

If you are required to pay for a warranty on your engine, that could also be a red flag.


Not just anyone can install a reconditioned engine properly. Have you looked under the bonnet? It’s a complicated mess of wiring, mechanical, and plumbing. For that reason, you should have a professional install your reconditioned engine.

That’s another indicator for buying a reconditioned engine the correct way. If you’re buying it yourself, you might only be eligible for a parts warranty, not for the labor to have it removed and installed should anything happen. When the labor is from six to twelve hours in most vehicles – some much longer yet – you don’t want to incur that expense down the road.

When you’re buying a reconditioned engine, it’s best to purchase it through the shop that will be installing it. In that way, your warranty will most likely cover both the parts and the labor, should anything go wrong.

To sum it up, don’t skimp on your car repairs. A reconditioned engine is an investment in your car’s health. Make sure you’re buying from a reputable supplier who stands behind their product.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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