It has been said that all cars run on used parts. However, an equally true maxim may be that all cars run on used engines. Over its lifetime, a used engine may be subjected to a dizzying amount of wear and tear as thousands of intricate parts are worn down over hundreds of thousands of miles. As a result, it can be perilous to purchase a used car or a used engine without knowing something about the mechanics of such engines. However, with a few tips in mind, it is easy for consumers to know what to look for when inspecting used engines.
First, used engines are going to get dirty over time, but well maintained engines will still have a generally clean appearance. There should not be a build up of grime and grease on the parts you can see. Even though clean engines are not necessarily good engines, when an engine is in good physical condition, this will at least show that the owner of the vehicle made an effort to improve the condition of the engine.
Second, used engines will typically show some damage in the fittings, such as in hosings and wirings as well as through leaks. Besides checking how clean the engine is, look for connections that are clumsily done. Electrical or duct tape present in lines is indicative of shoddy repairs and leaks in used engines. Also test drive the vehicle and allow it to idle. You will see water dripping from the air conditioner, but if you see anything else, you might want to reconsider the arrangement. With used engines, you will want to pay close attention to fuel leaks, oil leaks, and coolant leaks.
Next, a good metric for used engines is the quality and level of the engine oil. You want motor oil that appears a clear brown to the eye. This means both the oil sump and the oil itself are clean. If the oil is black or a murky color, this suggests that the oil might not have been changed for a long period of time. Also look for the level of the oil by examining markers on the oil dipstick. Used engines that display oil levels beneath the low marks may not have had the oil checked and refilled regularly, which can be bad for the overall longevity of the engine. Additionally, it might be a sign that the engine uses oil as it runs, which is something you want to avoid.
Finally, when dealing with used engines, examine the quality of the exhaust so you can keep from running afoul of emission laws. Once you have warmed up the engine of the vehicle or driven it for a bit of a distance, the exhaust should no longer be dark. If it is, this indicates fuel is not being burned and that the combustion within the engine is inefficient.
This may be due to a number of reasons, but it is a sign that you should check things out further. Keeping these tips in mind can make consumers better prepared to purchase quality used engines.
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