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Buying a Used Car: Should You Consider a Car With an Engine Replacement?

If you’re interested in buying a used car, you may have run across a vehicle listed for sale that’s had an engine replacement. Although this is more common in older used cars, some newer vehicles have also had engine replacements for one reason or another. So should you consider a car with an engine replacement? We have some tips on the subject.

The Pros

There’s one major benefit of a car that’s had an engine replacement: Assuming the engine was replaced with a new engine, or even merely a newer engine, it means the engine has less use than the car’s original powerplant. That can be a good thing for long-term reliability.

For example: Let’s say a car received a brand-new engine at 40,000 miles. In that case, the engine will have only traveled 25,000 miles when the odometer reaches 65,000 miles — and that means the car may last a little longer than a car with its original engine, since the newer engine hasn’t seen as much use. Find a used car for sale near you

The Cons

But there are a few drawbacks to a car with an engine replacement. For us, the biggest drawback is the question of why the engine was replaced in the first place. In most modern cars, engines are designed to last the life of the vehicle — and an engine replacement at 20,000 miles, 30,000 miles or even 100,000 miles would have us wondering exactly what the previous owner was doing that damaged the engine so badly that it had to be replaced, not repaired.

Another question: If a car had an engine replacement, who did the work? Replacing an engine isn’t a very easy job, and it’s best left to a very skilled mechanic. Yes, it’s true that some cars receive engine replacements under warranty, which means the repairs are carried out by trained dealership technicians. But others receive engine replacements from less skilled workers, which could lead to problems down the line if the replacement wasn’t performed correctly. Our advice: Be sure to get the paperwork from any engine replacement to ensure the work was done properly by a trusted mechanic or repair shop.

Our Take

If you’re buying a used car, seeing a vehicle that’s had an engine replacement is certainly a red flag. In some cases, it can be beneficial — such as if an engine was replaced under warranty to repair a defect present in some cars. But sometimes, an engine may be replaced because it was flooded or because there was damage resulting from a fire or an accident. In that case, you’ll want to be very careful about signing the papers unless you’ve had the car inspected by a trusted mechanic.

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Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for accuracy since it was originally published.

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