Buying an engine online
December 24, 2007 2:40 AM   Subscribe

I am in need of a replacement engine for my 1995 Mazda MX5 (Mata). I have found one online, but I'm possibly being overly cautious....

This is where I can source one from

They say their engines are "GURANTEED BELOW 30,000 MILES". Is there anyway I can check that?

What else should I be cautious about, or check before purchasing?
posted by lemonfridge to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
I checked the website and I think it's quite possible they're telling the truth. The engines seem to be pulled from vehicles in Japan. I've read stories for some time now about Japan having an anti-pollution law that required the engine to be replaced or rebuilt every 2 years. No idea if that law continues to exist, but automotive maintenance costs in Japan are legendary.

I think you're right to be cautious. I'd give them a call and see if these engines are pulled due to that anti-polution law. A mid-90s engine should be perfectly ok with 30,000 miles on it, I'd be more confortable if they were rebuilt but a reasonable warranty would be nearly as good.
posted by dereisbaer at 3:29 AM on December 24, 2007

There is no way to check the mileage. No reliable way, anyway.
posted by electroboy at 6:43 AM on December 24, 2007

I got a replacement engine from a mechanic that was guaranteed to be below 30,000 miles. The replacement burned a quart of oil with every tank of gas. It had a warranty on it but the warranty did not cover the cost of labor, so I was stuck with it.
posted by 517 at 9:50 AM on December 24, 2007

The only reliable way is either to deal with a reliable source, or to pull it yourself from a car you know or can verify the history of.

It does help to get the VIN of the car that the engine came from, as you can sometimes show via Carfax that the car was low mileage.
posted by zippy at 10:44 AM on December 24, 2007

I've had a car need a replacement engine at 8,000 miles (the car was new, and I neither abused it nor missed an oil change.) Also, see dereisbaer's comment above. Low miles does not guarantee a good engine, and you can kill an engine well before 30,000 miles by treating it badly.

I'd spend more money to get an engine that is either rebuilt with a warranty, or that's coming from a donor car and can be (at least) compression tested and physically examined for signs of oil leaks.

At the end of the day, though, if it's cheap enough it's worth a shot, I suppose.

Side note: how did you manage to kill the engine in your Miata so badly that you'd rather get a new engine than have this one rebuilt? Did it throw a rod, or are you just trying to save money?
posted by davejay at 11:30 AM on December 24, 2007

As long as it's time for a new engine, you have a golden opportunity! You may as well replace the engine not with a cheap, used version of the same engine, but a recently rebuilt version. The upside is that you get an engine that's been thoroughly checked out from tip-to-tail, the disadvantage is cost.

You seem to be attached to the '95 Miata, so I'm thinking it's more than a pure economic decision. I would at least explore fully rebuilt or modded engines, as you don't get this opportunity every day. Most of the expense in modifying or rebuilding an engine is labor. Taking the engine out, apart, polishing and putting it all back together all take time. A drop-in engine replacement on the other hand, bypasses a lot fo these expenses. Anyway, not the question you asked, but I hope I have at least piqued your interest.
posted by skybolt at 12:12 PM on December 24, 2007

This may be too much, but if the engine is really kaput, and you're looking for a project, you could always go with something like these guys do, a full V8 swap
posted by pupdog at 7:51 PM on December 24, 2007

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