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MC Nab’s Guide to Buying Second-Hand Engines

The engine is perhaps the most important part
of a car. After all, a car without one is basically a large tin can that cannot go anywhere and that
is why many car owners ensure that they take good care of this important piece of equipment by having it checked regularly and by not abusing its capacity.
However, there may be times when an engine stops functioning – whether it is due to an acci- dent or a malfunction – that is not covered by the warranty. In these cases, the owner may opt to buy a new car or replace the entire engine. The purchase of a new one can be expensive but not as expensive as buying a new vehicle (depending on the circumstances of course). A better option would be to buy a used motor.

The paragraphs below aim to educate
buyers with regards to the purchase of a used engine. Firstly, we will outline the advantages however, before purchasing anything, buyers should familiarize themselves with all the ma- jor parts that go into the make-up of the motor as well as the different models that are avail- able. Buying used does not have to be difficult but by reading this, it will definitely make the experience much easier.

Buying used may be the best decision a car owner makes. This is because used has some distinct advantages over buying new. These are saving money, helping the environment and enhancing reliability.

The first and most obvious advantage would have to be the money that can be saved. A new motor can be quite expensive whilst a used one has already depreciated in value and therefore costs less. For those who may be looking for a good engine at an affordable price, a used one is definitely the way to go.

Buying used prevents still functional engines from ending up in a landfill. The decision to buy a used engine also creates a bigger impact, especially when repairing a car. Many people may think that replacing an engine costs too much and decide buying a car would be a better choice. By choosing to repair a car and replace its engine rather than sending it to the scrap yard, car owners are preventing a large amount of junk from entering the waste stream.

Buying used prevents still functional engines from landing up in our already quite full landfills. The decision to buy a used motor also creates a bigger impact, especially when repairing a car. Many people think that replacing an engine is prohibitive cost-wise and then make the decision to buy a new car instead. However, by choosing to repair a car and replace its engine you are preventing a large amount of junk from entering the waste stream.

Believe it or not, used engines may actually be more reliable than newer ones. The reasoning behind this is because they have already been tried and tested and a study by Consumer Reports actually shows that used engines are quite dependable and resist rust.

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Buying A Car Without Papers?

Have you spotted a car that looks too good to be true, with the only caveat being that it comes “without papers”? In most cases, it’s best to steer clear of any car that doesn’t come with registration papers, but there are a handful of exceptions, says Jeff Osborne of Gumtree South Africa. “You may be able to, for example, buy a car and rebuild it legally. You could also re-register the car. But in 99% of cases, you will find these purchases are more trouble than they are worth.”

Firstly, before you even make a decision about buying the car or not, you will need a police clearance certificate to make sure that the vehicle is not stolen. This will be an extremely tricky and lengthy process without registration papers, but is still possible. If you do buy a vehicle without clearance, you will be liable for hefty fines as it is illegal to buy stolen goods. The onus is on you as the buyer to ensure that the seller is the lawful owner.

“If the owner has merely lost his papers, he can apply for a duplicate for a minimal fee. He should also be able to point you in the direction of the last owner with registration papers. It may take detective work, but it’s much better than getting on the wrong side of the law,” says Osborne. Once you’ve determined that the car has not been stolen, you will need to get it weighed at a weighing station and complete a road worthy for re-registration. You may also rebuild a car and register it. “This is the route you would usually take with a classic car or a Code 3 car (i.e. an insurance write-off). You will need to present receipts for engines, the chassis, the labour and all other parts. The expenses of a rebuild can be significant.”

In order to re-register a car using various new parts, you will need a duly completed application form RLV, a SA ID and an affidavit form SOA stating which parts were used, where they were acquired and with the receipts attached. In the event of a Code 3 or unfit vehicle that has been de-registered, the de-registration certificate or evidence of the vehicle being permanently unfit for use needs to be attached. “You will also need a police clearance certificate and mass measuring certificate.”

The process can be extremely lengthy and time intensive. “Expect to stand in a lot of queues and to spend a lot of time and money,” says Osborne. “If you are buying a rare classic without papers in order to rebuild it as a passion project, it is feasible. But if you are eyeing a secondhand car without papers because it’s extremely cheap and seems like a bargain – it’s probably going to result in a major headache very soon after purchasing it.” Osborne says that it’s important to insist on all the relevant paperwork when buying a secondhand car. “There are great bargains out there, but it’s important to perform due diligence. A lower price is not worth the risk of a fine and possible jail time because you cannot get the car registered or cleared.”

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Why Use Engine Break-In Oil?

Engine building should go well if everything is done correctly. Once all the parts have been machined to the correct tolerances, assembled with the correct clearances and protected with the right kind of lubricant. Or, it can end disastrously if parts are too tight or too loose, if there’s not enough lubrication when the engine is first started, or if the motor oil being used during the break-in process fails to protect the cam and lifters or doesn’t allow the rings to seat. A lot of things can go wrong during those first few minutes following the initial start-up of a freshly built engine. The engine has to build oil pressure quickly so all of the critical wear surfaces will receive lubrication. Assembly lube is designed to cling to surfaces better than ordinary motor oil so there will be a protective film of lubricant until the engine is cranked over and started. From that point on, oil pressure should take over and flush away most of the assembly lube. That’s why priming the oil system prior to starting it is so important. Priming prevents a dry start and reduces the lag time for oil to reach the bearings, cam and upper valve train components.

Ordinary motor oil can be used to lightly lubricate cylinder walls, lifter bores, wrist pins, piston rings, timing chains and bearing surfaces. But if the engine sits for more than a few days, much of the protective oil film will trickle back into the crankcase. Adding a viscosity improver such as STP to ordinary SAE 30 motor oil will help it cling to critical surfaces longer, and adding a dose of extreme pressure additive such as zinc dialkyl dithiophosphate (ZDDP) or zinc-moly will provide additional protection for the cam lobes and lifters if the engine has a fl at tappet cam.

Engine builders around the world have grown increasingly concerned that many modern motor oils do not provide adequate wear protection for new engines, particularly those using fl at-tappet cams. Royal Purple has addressed this issue by developing a engine break-in oil. Royal Purple Break-in Oil is formulated to allow optimal ring seal and protect rotating assembly components, such as the camshaft and valve train, from initial start up wear. Royal Purple combines highly refined mineral oil, preferred for engine break-in, with advanced additives containing high levels of zinc and phosphorus to optimize protection in flat-tappet and roller engines. Royal Purple Break-in Oil is a fully formulated conventional 10W- 30 engine oil and does not require the use of any other chemical additives. Royal Purple recommends using their high performance synthetic motor oils after engine break-in for maximum engine performance and protection.

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