How to Buy Used Engines

by Contributor

If you need a new engine, for your automobile, you have three options--buy a used engine, refurbish your current engine or buy a new one. Buying a used engine is often the most cost effective method. Follow these steps to buy a used engine.

Determine what engine you need. Engines are special to each car so you need the same make, model and year that is in your car now. Consult your owner's manual to find the specifications of your engine. Or, call your car dealer with your vehicle identification number (VIN) and they can tell you what engine you have.

Note the mileage on your current engine. You want to find a used one that has fewer miles than the one you are replacing.

Shop online at national used car part vendors. These companies buy wrecked cars, dismantle them and sell the parts. They have nationwide databases of available used engines at salvage companies. They can quickly search for the engine you need and let you know if there is one available in your area. If there isn't, they will ship one to you. The engines come with a warranty and ready to install. See the Resources section for a link to one of these companies,

Scour local salvage yards for the engine that you need. You may get lucky and find the one you are looking for. Be aware that you will most likely have to remove and prep it for install yourself.


  • check Upgrade the warranty when buying a used engine. Most used car part vendors offer a standard 6-month warranty on used engines. It is worth the money to upgrade that warranty to a 1- or 2-year warranty if they offer it.
  • check Looking at local salvage yards is time consuming and you may not find what you need. It is quicker to use one of the on-line car part vendors who can run a search for the engine and tell you exactly where you can find it.
  • check Before you buy an engine from a local salvage yard, run a VIN check on that car to find out it's history. This will help avoid buying an engine that has been flood damaged or rebuilt.


  • close Avoid buying used engines from individual sellers. You don't know the history of that engine nor will you have any recourse if it doesn't work.

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