CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Used engine shopping question

I need to replace my engine. Repair shop 1 has a used engine for me. They can send it back to the surplus shop, no charge. I recorded the VIN engraved in the engine. AutoCheck said “No records available for VIN,” so I don’t know the mileage. The price is $1100 for the engine with a 90 day warranty on parts and labor.

I took these photos at repair shop 1:
http://b910.tripod.com/webonmediacontents/used-engine-pics.htm

Repair shop 2 wants $2700 for its used engine, which has 40-50k miles and a 6 month warranty on parts and labor.

Any thoughts?

send the VIn, I can try Carfax to see if there are any records. Very rare is there none, unless the VIN is wrong.

Yes, what color is the car?

Seriously, we need to know a lot more info (like make and year) before we can comment on anything.

Possible replacement engine VIN: JF1SG63676G752730
My car: gray 2006 Subaru Forester
The question is which engine should I get and why?

How many miles on the first engine?

I take it your original engine blew a head gasket? That’s a common problem with Subarus.
I’d make sure you won’t have the same problem with the replacement engine so you may want to ask your mechanic to change the head gaskets and seals before he bolts it in.
If he does that, have him replace the timing belt as well, as that has to come off before the heads come off.
It’ll cost but it will give you a bit more assurance that this engine will last. Repair shop 2 may charge more because that’s what he may be doing. It certainly stands to reason with him giving you 6 months.
Shop 1 may just swap another engine in of questionable quality. It could last for 200K or give you the same problem after 91 days.

Shop 1 said their supplier does not know the mileage of their engine.

My engine has internal engine damage. All four cylinders have low compression. The dealer wanted $550 just to diagnose it further.

My car has only 57k miles.

Ask shop #1 what their determination is for warranty replacement is in the 90 days. If they will give a written warranty against loss of compression, excess oil use (qt/1,500mi), coolant loss, diminished oil pressure, etc., and you trust them their offer seems reasonable. But also, what is the labor estimate for shops 1 and 2?

Labor and other parts: Shop 1 : $1k. Shop 2: $1500.

Can you make any ballpark estimate of the mileage from the pics? Could there be any type of known issue with engine 1 that would explain the low price and possibly cause a failure after 90 days?

I can’t see any of those pictures but it would be difficult to determine what shape that engine is in from a picture.
If I were you, I’d ask #2 whether their engine has things like the head gaskets, main seals, timing belt, idler pulley and waterpump replaced. If they don’t, you can get a totally rebuilt engine for around $2500 shipped with often times a year warranty, providing it was installed by an ASE certified mechanic. That would be like having a brand new engine.
I know it is tempting because of its lower price but I’d stay away from #1, its quality being unknown.

Understand that Subaru has a known issue with head gaskets. They’ve since changed the material they’ve been made of but there are a lot of engines out there with the old gaskets. If the head gaskets have not been changed, don’t use the engine.

Any used engine is a crapshoot at best; even a low miles, allegedly well maintained engine may be hovering near scrap metal status. Unless someone has run a compression test, oil pressure test, and heard the engine actually run they have no idea what’s going on with it.

I have a few questions though. Your engine only has 57k miles on it. What caused it to go south; lack of oil, overheating, etc?
What are the symptoms leading up to this needs a new engine diagnosis?

The reason for asking is because of the low miles, low compression on all 4 cylinders (allegedly), and why in the world it would take 550 dollars to diagnose a low compression problem. That makes any diagnosis seem a bit suspect to me.

Ran the carfax and from what it says, i would 100% buy the motor. It says it was PDI’ed by the new car dealer on 6/13/06 and the car went to the junk yard on 12/13/06… So it only had maybe 6 months of driveing on it… Probably less … I will attach it to the post whem i get to work…

Although now that I think about it, where has the motor been for 6 years?? Was it in another car??

take a peek at www.ccrengines.com for quality Subaru rebuilds.

I updated my original post with a different link for the engine photos.

They said the engine has been sitting in the surplus shop for six years.

First, I noticed the engine shaking at stop lights. The next day, it would not start. The dealer found low compression. Three cylinders with 50 lbs, one with 90 lbs. The coolant was low, but there was no burnt smell to indicate overheating.

“Labor and other parts: Shop 1 : $1k. Shop 2: $1500.”

Those prices are for installing the used engine with new timing belt, water pump and spark plugs. If the engine has only six months of use and low mileage, should I have anything on it replaced? Timing belt, water pump, spark plugs, head gaskets and seals?

Should I ask them to do a compression test and oil pressure test after they install it? Or is it good enough if it runs ok, sounds ok and has no abnormal vibrations? There’s a 90 day warranty on parts and labor. That includes the engine.

No one bought this engine for six years. Why could that be?

What did Carfax say about the mileage? Apparently, it’s important to use Carfax, not AutoCheck.

No Idea why no one purchased it, but the story seems to vibe. It said nothing about mileage but even if they were driving 20K a year which is A LOT, then the motor should not have more then 10k on it… Carfax is below !

It would be very unusual, short of extreme circumstances, for a 57k miles Subaru engine to suffer engine compression that low without plenty of early warning symptoms.

I have no idea how this compression test was performed but with numbers that horribly low the first thing I would do is run a wet test immediately after the dry test that produced those low numbers. If the numbers take a significant jump upwards then the rings are shot.
If they do not take a jump up, or much of one, then it points to a cylinder head valve problem. Breached head gaskets could also cause this particular symptom but it’s hard to fathom both sides giving completely up at once.

If a wet test pointed to a valve problem then the next step is to inspect the valve lash and make sure valves have not tighened up. It’s also hard to fathom this happening without some early warning symptoms or someone being in the valve train and misadjusting the valves.

It would be interesting to know the minute details behind this problem and at this point I’m not sure an entire engine is needed.

Assume the engine is six years old and has only 10k miles. Should I ask them to replace the timing belt, water pump, spark plugs, head gaskets and seals?