Shopping for used cores or an engine that you want to transplant can be difficult if you don't know what you're looking for. We received so much feedback on the recent Dart engine build-up, and how people could relate to the story of buying a used engine block that was no good, that we thought that we'd show you what we're taking about and hopefully give you pointers on how to find a good used block. This story started with an engine build that went sour, but maybe our readers can learn from our experience.
When it's time to build an engine there's a few ways that you can go. One scenario consists of locating a block from a classified paper such as The Recycler. Our favorite way is to find a running donor car and pull the engine. Wrecked cars are usually good as you know that they were running before the accident that did them in. You can also go to a junkyard and pick out a used engine.
One difficulty of buying an engine that's not actually in a car is finding out about the engine without seeing or hearing it run. The only real way to find out about the engine is to open it up and hope that it's in good working condition. This is where gambling on a used engine can get ugly; that nice guy who was so happy to take your money just made out like a bandit and there's nothing that you can do about it. He said that the engine was "as is" and "I believe it's never been worked on."
Opening up an engine can give you its life history, almost like an autopsy. From the heads being worked on to the timing chain being loose from wear and tear, the only way to find out is by tearing it down. Now follow along as we show you a couple of ways to shop for a used engine block from the best-case scenario to the worst where you spend money and waste time and have to start all over.