Why You Should Rebuild a Motor vs Buying Used

So the motor is blown and now what? You love the vehicle so what are your options…you can buy new, used, rebuilt or remanufactured. Buying new, which is referred to as getting a crate motor, is expensive and honestly isn’t required. For a daily driver or a classic car I would recommend a used or rebuilt engine. In the article below I will address the differences and why I recommend going for a rebuild over a used motor.

I am also leaning and pushing folks towards used parts as this is a junkyard blog. In the case of a vehicle engine though, a used one while cheaper is just not as reliable as rebuilt or remanufactured one. Sure a used motor can last a while, but you really have no way of knowing exactly how long. Plus there is no warranty on a used motor. Once it dies, you are back to the same problem you stated with and end up spending money all over again.

Here are the difference between used and rebuilt/remanufactured motors.

Used Motor

A used motor is one that likely came from the junkyard. It was pulled from a vehicle that had damage to another part or system, but the motor is still mechanically viable. The motor may or may not have a lot of miles on it and has never needed to have any parts replaced. This is simply pulling a working motor out of a junk vehicle and then placing it in your vehicle. This is the least expensive method of replacing a motor.

Rebuilt Motor

A rebuilt motor involves a total disassembly of it, inspection of each part and component, cleaned, and replacing any parts with wear and tear. Every gasket gets replaced and every piece is considered for updating. When done correctly, by a pro a rebuilt engine can get you hundreds of thousands of miles. Having a shop rebuild the motor, will likely get you an unlimited mileage guarantee on their work for a period of about 3 years.

Remanufactured Motor

One level up from a rebuild is a remanufactured motor. This is a rebuild that looks at the original specs and components are returns the entire engine back to factory condition. This involves everything you do in a rebuild, but includes cylinder matching and the focus is to make the engine as if it just rolled off the production line today. A remanufactured engine should last longer then a rebuilt one, but will be more expensive. Some shops will offer an extended warranty on a remanufactured motor.

The Benefits of a Rebuilt Motor vs Used

Like New Quality in a Rebuilt Motor

When you get a rebuilt or remanufactured motor you are getting increased longevity and reliability from it’s performance. Since each is inspected, cleaned, and replaced if needed it helps to ensure it lasts a long time. A used engine can be a bit a shot in the dark, it might work now, but without taking it apart there is no way to know how trustworthy it is.

A Rebuild is Faster Then Finding a Used Motor

For an older vehicle, a new engine is certainly not an option since it’s no longer manufactured. Finding a used engine can be a challenge to locate a decent replacement at a junkyard. If you are a pro picker, then you know how to find one, but even if you do, you will likely wait two weeks for shipping, plus pay the freight. On the other hand a rebuild can take 3 to 5 days and remanufacture can take about a week.

Warranty for Rebuild

The place that rebuilds motors near me, guarantees their work for unlimited mileage up to 3 years. Any good shop is going to stand by their rebuild or remanufactured engine. If you have issues with engine during the 3 years, they will do the work for free. If you purchase a used motor at the junkyard, you’ll be offered is a 30 day exchange if the motor doesn’t meet your expectations.

Rebuild a Motor vs Buying Used

I am always a proponent of buying used parts and saving money. In the case of a motor though it’s better to spend the money and get rebuilt or remanufactured. That is particularly if you want the vehicle to last a long time. Rebuilds and remanufactures are expensive, but over the long haul will actually save you money. There are different companies that do engine rebuilds and you should shop around for your best price and warranty.


James is an avid junkyarder and mechanic. He has visited Junkyards in every US state and has restored over 30 makes and models of vehicles. He has several automotive and recycling related blogs that generate over 150K views a month.