What to Look for in a Used Engine
By Wayne Nevels
There are a lot of engines with significant life left in them sitting in cars in
backyards and junk yard sheds. These can be a bargain replacement for a tired
engine in an otherwise good car or they can be an upgrade to what's currently
powering your ride. To make sure you get a good solid engine, follow the advice in
Firstly look for the miles on the engine if it is still in a car you may be able to see
this on the dash if its out of the car a lot of the time the wrecker will know the
mileage. Mileage is only one of a few indications of engine condition.
Secondly to test the engines cylinder pressure holding capability this tests the
seal between the head and the block and the seal of the piston rings. You can do
this with a 'Leak Down' test. What this test does is pressurizes the cylinder and
slowly leaks hopefully down through the piston rings. This test can diagnose if an
engine needs replacement rings or if the head/block is sealing adequately.
Finally a good indicator is the condition of the oil. Milky it could mean there is a
leak between the oil and water systems. If its low it could mean there is a leak or
the oil control rings aren't doing there job. If it is black and burnt looking then its
probably hasn't been serviced as much as it should be. You are looking for a
golden brown at a good level on the dipstick be wary if it looks like brand new oil
though as it probably is and this might be to cover an issue.
Choosing a second hand engine is not an exact science you need to take into
consideration all the information you can get and hopefully I have given you some
insight into what to look for.
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