There's a lot that goes into building a project car. While some people may be content with cleaning a car up and making a few modifications, others want to go a step (or several steps) further. If you're starting with a good base platform, installing a new (to you) engine may be an excellent option to take your project car to the next level.
Buying a used engine can serve multiple purposes, from getting a more reliable, lower mileage engine to swapping in something much more powerful. Whatever your goal, it's critical to ensure you make the right choice since a new engine may be the largest investment in your project. These three tips will help you find the perfect engine for your project.
1. Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover
If you're looking at used engines in person, such as pulling one from a scrapyard donor car, don't focus too much on appearances. It's relatively easy to clean an engine with a power washer and some degreaser, especially if it's already outside the vehicle. Likewise, a dirty engine doesn't necessarily indicate problems, especially if it's an older engine.
When considering the external appearance of an engine, you'll need to go a little deeper. While grime and dirt may be normal, visible oil or coolant stains can be more concerning. Don't write off an engine that looks like it can use a little TLC, but make sure to examine it carefully before you make your selection.
2. Get Your Hands Dirty
If you can access the engine before buying, you can take a few easy steps to get a better sense of its condition. Your goal should be to evaluate its condition as best you can while outside the vehicle. Using a flashlight, check under the oil cap and look for signs of burnt or dried oil on the valves. These can indicate an engine with a poor service history.
You may also want to ask the buyer to remove the spark plugs. Consistent wear across each plug is typically a good sign since it means that there isn't a single cylinder that's burning oil or otherwise suffering from problems. While this isn't a fool-proof method of diagnosing an engine, it can give you some good clues.
3. Look for Limited Warranties
Many used engine sellers will stand by the engines they sell, and some may even offer limited warranties. Purchasing from one of these sellers will help you find an engine in great condition that you can enjoy in your project car for many years to come.
Contact a seller for more information about used engines.