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How to Know if Your Used Junkyard Engine is Any Good?

Having a running vehicle has become a necessity over the years. While some people use their cars for transportation, others need a car for work. However, what happens when you notice that you have serious engine damage? Should you buy a new one or consider getting one from the scrapyard?

Luckily, engines are made in a way to last a lifetime if they have been properly maintained, but finding a good junkyard engine might become problematic. In addition, you should understand whether repairing the car is worth it whatsoever. For that reason, you need to inform yourself as much as possible.

In this article, we’ll talk about some tips to use and find out whether your used junkyard engine is any good. This will save you unneeded expenses of purchasing bad parts and prevent headaches in the long run. Keep reading and find out more.

Be sure you are looking for the correct engine


Before you get into inspecting and seeing the conditions of the part, you need to be sure you are looking for the correct motor for your car. This is where most people are making a mistake by not checking compatibility.

There are lots of sites with information about motor compatibility where you can insert information about your vehicle and you’ll see all the engines that fit your bay. Only after being sure and making a list of options, you can proceed and visit the scrapyard in order to find a replacement.

Get to visual observation

The first thing you can do when looking at parts is visual observation. Here, you can look at the engine as a whole and see the condition from the outside. In addition, you should look for oil signs, especially in the crankshaft area and the back portion of the pan.

Usual gaskets are not complicated to replace and they are rather cheap, however, replacing the seals around the crankshaft can be an expensive project.

In case the engine is mounted, you should turn it on and see whether there is smoke coming out of it. While it is normal to see smoke coming out of the oil filling opening, if it is in large quantities, it is a bad sign.

Look for leaks


As mentioned above, leaks are a great determinant of the condition the motor is in. In case you do not know this field, it is best to bring a mechanic and let them inspect both the origin of the damage and the type of liquid that leaked.

Bring a mechanic with you

Bringing up a professional with you is the most important thing you can do to ensure everything is working correctly. Especially if you have a mechanic of trust that has taken care of your car until now, they can be of the biggest help as suggested by

Besides the knowledge, they have lots of tests they can do on the motor to determine its health. For example, they can check the compression, see the condition of the pistons, the balance of the cylinders, and lots more. In case the engine is mounted, they can insert a reader that scans for faulty codes.

See the condition of the timing chain or belt

Depending on the engine, the timing chain or belt can be visible and easily accessed for you to see the condition it is in. If we are talking about belts, you’ll need to see their rigidity and any potential cracks. If it is loose, you’ll need to change it.


Even if the engine comes with a chain, you can easily access it by removing certain panels. In addition, you’ll need to turn the crankshaft until you see the mark and turn in the other direction to see potential slacks. If the chain is shifted by a few teeth, it can cause serious problems. That is why you should look at engines with appropriately adjusted timing structures.

Check the liquids

If the motor is mounted, you have to see the liquids and their condition. This is a great indicator of how the motor was maintained before and shows the current condition. Be sure to check the levels since you cannot turn the motor on if there is no oil inside.

On the other hand, if the engine is not mounted, the oil might be drained, and there will be no coolant so this is not useful in such a situation.

In case the engine is mounted, try turning it on

Sometimes, the junkyard has whole cars that are already mounted with various body damage. This is a great chance to see how the motor works and understand its overall condition. The motor should start without any problems and it should have proper rhythm.


While the engine is turned on, you should look for any unusual noises. There should not be any metallic clicking sounds or any unnecessary rumbling. The mechanic you’ve brought will easily distinguish the noises which will help them decide whether this should be the motor you’ll purchase.

This is where you can see whether there is a lot of smoke coming out of the exhaust. Be sure to notice the color and the smell for situations when the head gasket is broken and the motor mixes water and oil. If everything runs smoothly, you should be good.

Demand warranty

Purchasing a used engine is still a big investment and there is a lot of money involved. That is why you have to be sure about its health before you spend your finances on it.

The quality has a lot to do with the place you’ll be buying your junkyard engine from. There are lots of junkyards that are doing their best in checking the quality before selling a motor to you. To keep their customers satisfied and provide additional security, they are offering a warranty on the engine chosen.


This is strongly beneficial in situations where the motor does not fit inside your car, or there is serious damage that costs a lot to be repaired. You can simply bring the motor back and find a replacement, or get your finances returned. That is why demanding a warranty holds such importance.