Is It Worth It to Buy a Used Car With a Replaced Engine?

When amidst the car buying process, you may come across a vehicle with a replaced engine. Initially, this may seem like a terrible purchase. However, a replaced or rebuilt motor can provide many benefits. A new motor can also provide many headaches if you’re not careful. There’s some due diligence to be done here if you’re considering a vehicle with a replaced engine, and a few key things to look for.

What to look for in a replaced engine

A rebuilt Jaguar straight-six motor in an E-Type
1966 Jaguar E type Series 1 motor | National Motor Museum via Getty Images

There’s a few things you’ll want to look for in a vehicle with a replaced motor. First, you’ll want to start with a bit of a history lesson. Give the vehicle’s history report a look. Why was the motor replaced? Did someone blow it up out of carelessness? Or was it due to lack of maintenance? Or perhaps an accident?

These are all things you’ll want to know. For example, if the motor died because of previously poor maintenance, it doesn’t bode well for the health of the rest of the vehicle. A new motor does not a reliable car make. The vehicle history report may not reveal all, and you may have to place a call to the shop where the replacement motor was fitted. Like any shop, ensure their work is quality.

The benefits of a swapped motor

Volkswagen's four-cylinder TDI motor in the Golf SportWagen
Volkswagen’s TDI motor | Daniel Acker via Getty Images

So, let’s start with the most obvious. A replaced engine can have benefits, and chief among them is reliability. If you’ve found a vehicle with a new or even newer motor, then the benefit is plain to see. Less miles, less wear. Now, the next benefit is often overlooked, but it can be just as much of a boon as helping your vehicle’s reliability.

There are some instances when you may be able to take advantage of a warranty on a car with a replaced engine. If the job was performed by a manufacturer, they may be willing to extend you a powertrain warranty. Of course, this is the most ideal situation you’ll come across. Now, not only would you have a car with a new motor, but one with a factory warranty on it.

A swapped motor can also be a headache

Audi's four-cylinder TFSI motor in the TT Coupe
Audi’s version of the TDI motor: the TFSI | National Motor Museum via Getty Images

Evidently, there are also quite a lot of downsides and unknowns with a replaced engine. First, there’s who did the work. If things weren’t done right, you’d be better off in a car with an old motor. There’s also the why. Modern engines are designed to last the lifespan of a car. So, what exactly was the previous owner doing to that poor car to pop the motor?

Supposing you’re able to verify the integrity of a car with a replaced motor, it can be a smokin’ deal. Pricing will be ideal, as most will stay away, and you may even end up with a warranty in the best case. The name of the game here is thorough research, so do yours. If you do, you could have a lifetime car on your hands.

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