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Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 11:51 AM   #1
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Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

Hi all,

One of my toy is a 1991 Nissan 300zx Twin Turbo.* It's in very good shape...* except for a blown head gasket (please don't ask why).

I can purchase a used imported engine from Japan with about 50Kmiles for about $1,500.* My mechanic can put it in for me for $1,000 labor.

This the first time I ever consider engine swapping.* I know it's not a big deal, but I'm worried that small mistakes are made in the process resulting in more and more headache.

Questions:* Have you done this before?* How did it go?* What would you have done differently if you can do it all over again?

Thanks,
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 11:54 AM   #2
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

Is the whole engine shot because of the head gasket? Or is it something that can be replaced on the current engine and you are back on the road?

Are you concerned with you doing the engine swap, or your mechanic? I would think that if your mechanic has the necessary skills, then it should be relatively easy. It's no sure thing, but few things are.
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 12:07 PM   #3
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bow-tie
Is the whole engine shot because of the head gasket?* Or is it something that can be replaced on the current engine and you are back on the road?

Are you concerned with you doing the engine swap, or your mechanic?* I would think that if your mechanic has the necessary skills, then it should be relatively easy.* It's no sure thing, but few things are.
Rebuilding the head cost around $1,500 for this vehicle, if it can be rebuilt.* It has to be removed first before that can be determined.

My car has 100K on it, so I thought it would be more economical to replace the whole engine.

My mechanic will be doing the swapping.* I wish I can do it myself, but I have neither the skill nor the necessary equipments.
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 12:09 PM   #4
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

Make sure you choose a mechanic who WORKS on imports...if he does, you should be okay. I'd expect a 6 month warr. on labor and parts.

I'd guess you could find that motor cheaper, as well...but I've never gone lloking for one, either

I'd assume you could re-use your turbo's, computer, intercooler etc etc....
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 12:24 PM   #5
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam
Rebuilding the head cost around $1,500 for this vehicle, if it can be rebuilt. It has to be removed first before that can be determined.
I'd go with the "new" engine. I had very bad experience with rebuilt heads after a massive overheating. Car never ran right afterwards. All the gaskets on the engine begin leaking shortly afterward.

I had a friend in a similar boat as you with a gorgeous early 80's trans am. Treated it like his baby, only drove on weekends.

His wife called and said she broke down. When he got there it was a massive overheating, blown head gasket.

No IDIOT Lights. He asked her if the temperature gauge was reading OK. She said "What Gauge?" They were still married last I heard.....

It never was right again...

Good Luck.


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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 01:04 PM   #6
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam
I can purchase a used imported engine from Japan with about 50Kmiles for about $1,500.* My mechanic can put it in for me for $1,000 labor.

This the first time I ever consider engine swapping.* I know it's not a big deal, but I'm worried that small mistakes are made in the process resulting in more and more headache.
I have no direct experience with this but I'll pass along some cautionary words about used Japanese engines.

We see them advertised here in the Pacific NW often and my significant other has remarked, several times, that they are not a good idea. She says that there are very strict pollution controls in Japan that mandate that you replace your engine after so many miles; that's where these "used" engines come from. Problem is, they are engineered to last only as long as they will be in the car.

So your used Japanese engine with 50K on it is already at the end of its designed useful lifespan, not half-way or a third of the way through it, as it would be if it were engineered for a car to be sold outside Japan.

This may all be outdated third-hand incorrect hooey but I thought I would pass it along.
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 01:12 PM   #7
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

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Originally Posted by Red-y
I have no direct experience with this but I'll pass along some cautionary words about used Japanese engines.

We see them advertised here in the Pacific NW often and my significant other has remarked, several times, that they are not a good idea. She says that there are very strict pollution controls in Japan that mandate that you replace your engine after so many miles; that's where these "used" engines come from. Problem is, they are engineered to last only as long as they will be in the car.

So your used Japanese engine with 50K on it is already at the end of its designed useful lifespan, not half-way or a third of the way through it, as it would be if it were engineered for a car to be sold outside Japan.

This may all be outdated third-hand incorrect hooey but I thought I would pass it along.

It is hooey... the engines are built the same... it is just the law in Japan that is the issue..
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 01:14 PM   #8
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

I would be very surprised if Japanese automakers would go to the expense of building two assembly lines, engineering plans etc. for engines in different countries. *I've had a couple friends install these engines and have no problems. *It's still a used engine, however, so if that particular previous owner was bad to it, you could still get burned. *
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 01:14 PM   #9
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

I would be skeptical of buying an engine that has 50K on it... where did it come from How well was it maintained?? *It could be in worse shape than YOURS.. *and I doubt if you will have any warranty...

You should look into either getting yours rebuilt or buying a rebuild... *or, if you like a project, rebuid it yourself...
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 01:40 PM   #10
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

If there's no damage to the head beyond getting hot, it's possible to mill it flat and reuse...
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 03:24 PM   #11
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Proud
I would be skeptical of buying an engine that has 50K on it... where did it come from How well was it maintained?? *It could be in worse shape than YOURS.. *and I doubt if you will have any warranty...
I'm skeptical too.* But these engines are from companies that specialize in importing used engines from Japan.* All engines are supposed to be tested before removal (in Japan).* Plus, these companies have been around for quite some time, and appear to have good reputations.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Proud
or, if you like a project, rebuid it yourself...
I like project, but not at this magnitude.* Besides, I don't have the skill nor the necessary tools.
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 03:27 PM   #12
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wallygator69
No IDIOT Lights.* He asked her if the temperature gauge was reading OK.* She said "What Gauge?" They were still married last I heard.....


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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 03:47 PM   #13
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

We bought a smaller diesel tractor (Yanmar) from one of those companies that loads them up from Japan and sells them to small equipment dealers in the US after they've been "retired" from use at farm co-ops in Japan.
Besides the labels all being in Japanese, it has been great from the start. No trouble at all, and a great deal on a good tractor. I'd buy through this sort of program again, in a minute.
I put a used engine in a GMC Jimmy a number of years ago that had about 40k miles on it (the used engine), got another 300k miles out of it! Cost $1k to put it in, back in 1990.

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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 09:21 PM   #14
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

I installed the engine in my 280 turbo with no problem as it was totally rebuilt with new parts. If I were you I would contact Nissan and see what it costs to buy an engine from them. Might be more money upfront but it would come with a longer warranty. I would ensure your mechanic knows exactly what he is doing. Those cars are so sensitive with the computers, turbo plumbing, intercoolers piping. If he forgets something on the reinstall it could spell engine failure. That happened to my step dad and his Volvo turbo. The mechanic didn't put any oil in the car and I don't have to tell you what happens to a turbo with no oil...
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 09:46 PM   #15
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

I'm not sure I understood your reply to Bow-Tie's question. I've blown head gaskets before (a loong time ago) and all I did was pull the head and replace the gasket. You do have to make sure you get a good seal with the new gasket (did my first one twice) but if it's just the gasket what would it cost to replace that?
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 10:00 PM   #16
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonidas
I'm not sure I understood your reply to Bow-Tie's question.* I've blown head gaskets before (a loong time ago) and all I did was pull the head and replace the gasket.* You do have to make sure you get a good seal with the new gasket (did my first one twice) but if it's just the gasket what would it cost to replace that?
Leonidas,

Head gaskets are blown because of two main reasons:

1)* The head gasket itself fails due to poor design and/or inferior material.* In this case, simply replacing the gasket would do.* It's a relative simple job, but not as simple as it used to be 20 years ago.

2)* The head gasket fails as a result of a major engine overheat (loss of coolant).* Should the engine locks because of overheating, most internal compoments are seriously affected.* Although after cooling, the engine would restart, it's no longer in the same condition it was before.

The latter happens to be my case*
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 10:09 PM   #17
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

Sam,

No personal experience with this, but the Japanese engine seems like a reasonable bet, relative to trying to re-use your present engine. Can you get some kind of warantee on the 'new'engine?

I will bet that there are discussion groups for this line of cars on the web. Before you go signing checks, see if you can find one or two and ask there.
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 10:13 PM   #18
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arif
If I were you I would contact Nissan and see what it costs to buy an engine from them.
I haven't checked with Nissan. *But I can guess it'll be at least $8,000. *Add another $2,000 for stealer dealer labor (for warranty purpose), and it's totally out of my comfort zone (for a toy).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arif
I would ensure your mechanic knows exactly what he is doing. Those cars are so sensitive with the computers, turbo plumbing, intercoolers piping. If he forgets something on the reinstall it could spell engine failure.
My mechanic is 62 years old, with 40 years of experience. *He's very careful. *But people do make mistake, and that's what I'm concerned about. *He also my friend and my billiard (pool) partner.
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 10:40 PM   #19
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

Geez, Sam,

If I were you, I would go with your friend. No matter what you wind up doing, there is a chance it won't work out as hoped. A friend will do what he can to make it work. What he suggests seems reasonable.

Ed

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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?
Old 08-08-2006, 10:43 PM   #20
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Re: Replacing a car engine, chance of sucess?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy
Can you get some kind of warantee on the 'new'engine?
Ed,

Yes, all these engines are guaranteed for 6 months, *6Kmiles, which is long enough to unravel hidden problems. *Unfortunately, the warranty does not cover labor ($1,000) or shipping ($200 each way).

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