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3 Tips on Buying a Used Engine Online

Buying Engines Online

By Ben Silver - May 25, 2016

Consumers are beginning to buy everything online, from groceries to cars and trucks, you can now purchase whatever you desire on the internet.  This, of course, has crossed over into the world of used auto parts.  Purchasing used auto parts online through a salvage yards “e-commerce” store can be very convenient, but there are a few things to understand before you click the “Buy” button.  In this blog, we’ll discuss used engines in particular, because there are some details to get into when you start discussing engines in particular.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re shopping for a remanufactured engine or a used engine, this information can be helpful in getting you the correct auto part for your repair.

Know the Part

This might seem obvious, and the basics of this are pretty self explanatory.  Of course, I’m not talking about knowing that you need an engine, I am talking about knowing the details.  When you start searching online or if you were to call a salvage yard, there is going to be some information that you will need in order to get the correct engine.  

First, have the vehicle VIN ready.  Some salvage yards require the VIN because it is so critical in understanding the customers needs.  There may be a character in your VIN that tells the website, or the used auto parts professional some critical information about your vehicle and the engine that you are in need of.  

Know the engine size.  This is likely the most critical piece of information to have about a used or remanufactured engine.  This information will generally be right on top of the engine and clear to view when you pop the hood.  The measurement of engines is liters (L), so you’ll see something like 4.0L or 2.4L on the valve cover on the top side of the engine.  If you don’t find it there, look for the emissions sticker on the under side of the hood.  This sticker will also show you the year and the engine size.

Know the transmission type.  This one is easy, because most drivers know if they are driving a stick or an automatic transmission.  This is just a question that will come up a lot when you are searching for a used engine online.  On most used parts search websites, you will see MT or AT next to the options to select.  MT = Manual Transmission, AT = Automatic Transmission.

Know the Vendor

As with anything, you want to know who you’re buying from.  If they're a local vendor, like one of the salvage yards in Denver, you can generally still buy from them online.  Some consumers prefer to shop this way, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Find the salvage yards website and get some information on there warranty and business practices so that you get familiar and comfortable with them.  If you’re buying online from a national seller like eBay, then you can use there ranking system to get an idea of the quality of the vendor.  You may be able to save money on shipping costs and headaches if you buy from a local salvage yard, because we are here and can handle warranty issues promptly and even go to the shop to assist with warranty issues if they occur.

Know the Costs

Obviously, you’ll be able to see the cost of the used engine or remanufactured engine on the website.  But there are other costs that may be relevant, and I wanted to help you understand them before making a used engine purchase online.

Core Deposit - The core deposit is a sum of money charged to consumers by sellers of used engines or remanufactured engines.  It can be anywhere from $50-$500 depending on the engine that is purchased.  The core deposit is used to secure the return of the customers old engine.  Your old, damaged engine or “core” has some value, but in order for that value to be realized, the “core” has to be processed and organized.  Salvage yards are experts in organizing and processing core engines, so we use a core deposit as way to secure the damaged engine that is being replaced.  The core deposit is returned to the customer when they bring there core engine back to the automotive recycler.  This is also a sure way to see that the core engine will be recycled properly in the most environmentally sound way possible.  Dealing with a local salvage yard can be the pickup and processing of your core less costly and easier to do.

Shipping Costs - When you see the cost of a used auto part, and you are shopping online, make sure you wait until you see the shipping costs before you make a purchasing decision.  Most of the time, shipping costs won’t be added or processed into the invoice until it’s time to check out.  When shipping a used or remanufactured engine, expect anywhere from $125-$250 in shipping costs.  This is enough dough to change your mind, and go with a local salvage yard in order to get your used engine promptly and without shipping costs.

Ben Silver is the CEO of Central Auto Parts and acting President of the Colorado Automotive Recyclers.  When he's not "auto blogging" or pushing Central Auto Parts to new heights, he's chasing his young daughter around the house or tying flies for the next great fishing adventure.