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Old 03-30-2012, 04:21 PM
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opinions on buying junk yard motors verses a rebuilt

Hello, i just purchased a 2001 GMC Savanna 2500 van with a bad motor. My intent is to buy a used, junk yard 5.0 V8 and just replace the old one. I now have several people telling me this is really not a good option, I should get a factory rebuilt or an after market rebuilt instead as most junk yard motors won't last long. Any opinions?
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Old 03-30-2012, 04:39 PM
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It is a major risk. If you can do compression tests and other diagnostics before purchase maybe. I have had good luck with junkyard engines but I have been able to hear them run and verify thier condition somewhat, it is still a gamble.
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Old 03-30-2012, 04:49 PM
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low miles is what you need to look for, and an automatic transmission, not because you need an engine from an automatic vehicle, but because the 4L60E transmission goes out before the engine does.. should be able to go back to 1996 or 8 and just swap your intake and distributor, cause the vortech intake never changed.. other option is a 1999-2001 5.3L truck engine. a complete pull, and the wiring harness and it will bolt in your truck. just need the newer van mounts.
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Old 03-31-2012, 08:55 AM
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A "junk yard" engine can last very long. But there's a certain amount of luck involved---just like with everything else......


My opinion is the question boils down to:

1) How long is your commute?

2) How important is the commute/how good is the job and what is your relationship with your boss?

a) For example, are you an on-call surgeon?


If dependability is crucial, then you may want to look into remanufactured, "rebuilt" (whatever that means?) or the crate engines.

However, a used engine can also be very dependable---especially if you can hear it run----preferably for at least 30 mins.

i got a 78 305 out of the paper for $400 after hearing it run---still installed in the car. You may say $400 is excessive for a 305 BUT it came complete air cleaner to pan AND distributor. And it runs great and has given me 6000 miles so far with no problems whatsoever and returns avg. 16.5 mpg with a high of 17.9 .

i mean this engine is from the Deng Xiaopeng administration!!!

So, to quote Premier Deng, "It does not matter if the cat is black or white, only that it catches mice."
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Old 03-31-2012, 09:53 AM
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When I worked in a shop we installed jy engines fairly regularly. With good maitenance todays engines can go 300,000 miles with ease. The most important thing to check is to pop a valve cover. If the head is clean and it appears they used good oil and changed it regularly everything else should be fine. Oil is the single most important factor in determining an engines life.
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Old 04-01-2012, 09:30 AM
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When you go to the junkyard to purchase a motor you have to ask yourself why a certain vehicle was junked to begin with. Obviously it was no use to someone else, so they junked it. Crashed vehicles would be a good starting point to get an engine out of since it would be safe to assume that the vehicle was junked due to an accident. If you see a vehicle with a really good body on it and a good interior, chances are that something in the drivetrain is not good. Possibly engine related, possibly transmission related.
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Old 04-01-2012, 09:54 AM
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I have done a few of them....Most reputable yards will give a guarantee, the one I dealt with, 3 months.......I had to return one.

I would rather buy a junker vehicle and get it running in that and see how it is.....you can then scrap the rest usually for what you paid for the vehicle....plus, you get extra parts
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Old 04-01-2012, 10:02 AM
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Probably the determining factor would be cost and mileage. Now a day when you go to a " automotive re-cycling yard" parts are more documented then ever before. With a item like a engine mileage is recorded. At least it is in CA. I wouldn't buy anything with more than 50K on it. I'd buy in a big city ( lots of wrecks) and I'd buy with a written guarantee. I'd look at the dipstick to see if the color of the stick, dark and burnt, bad. Take a look at the PCV valve. Clean or gummy? Certainly popping a valve cover off would help.
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Old 04-01-2012, 01:18 PM
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we can get complete engines from the you pull it here for about $250, its a no brainer for me to pull a jy engine and give it a try. they give a 30 day swap out too so if you are halfway proficient with tools, you would still be ahead if you had to try 2-3 engines to get a good one.

that said, you must choose wisely as mentioned. try to find a rear ended truck or van, or low mile automatic(trans goes first) vehicle. pop the valve cover before pulling, maybe drop the oil pan when you get it in the air to have a look inside.

i got a jy trans last year, first one was a bust, lost out on fluids, seals and time but still came out WAY ahead of buying a remanufactured.

good luck!
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Old 04-01-2012, 11:28 PM
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Junkyard engine

Greetings, It is great if you can actually see the donor vehicle that the engine/ trans/ rearend etc, came out from. Some times the donor vehicle is actually a great vehicle that was prematurely wrecked and the running gear is in very good condition, buyer beware. Here is an old timers proverb that rings true: If you don't have the time and money to do it right the first time, when will you have time and money to do it over?
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