In the spring and summer of 2008, the prices on used cars began to trend upwards. With the economic collapse that followed, many consumers began to repair their vehicles instead of replacing them. This makes financial sense, even for major repairs, which can often be completed at a fraction of the cost that would be incurred with the purchase of a new car. What is considered a major repair? To me, a major repair consists of completely replacing a major system of a car: brakes, suspension, or drive train (engine or transmission).
Toyota’s deserve unique consideration for engine replacement. First of all, they suffer a very low percentage of engine failure when compare to other automotive engines. The only auto producer with more vehicles on the road than Toyota is General Motors, yet Toyotas typically need only a fraction of non-standard maintenance repairs performed on them.
There are several Toyota engine families on the road right now.
Perhaps the most common is the 5SFE engine found in the Toyota Camry and some Toyota Celicas. This engine, used in Camrys as late as 2001, is in literally millions of vehicles. This commonality doesn’t mean that there are thousands of used engines available that are ready to drop in your Camry; rather, it means that there are millions of high mileage Camry engines. When buying a used Toyota Camry engine, you should make sure that you buy only an engine with a CARFAX to verify the mileage, or that has been machine tested. The great thing about Toyota Camry engines is that often, they can be sourced from Japan and purchased with very, very low mileage, saving you time and giving you many years of use.
The next most common late model Toyota Engine family is probably the 5VZFE. This engine can be found in the Toyota Tacoma, Toyota Tundra, and Toyota 4Runner, among other engines. These are excellent engines. In fact, I’ve sold these engines to customers who claimed they had gotten over half a million miles on their original engine. 5VZFE engines commonly need their “dummy water pump” replaced.
So what does the informed consumer need to know about buying a used Toyota engine? The first thing you need to know is that a quality engine will come with a quality warranty. Unless a Toyota engine is worn out, any company you consider buying from should give at least a six month warranty. Personally, I would never buy a Toyota engine that didn’t come with at least a full year for the warranty. Secondly, it is important to have something concrete about the condition of the engine. A free CARFAX can verify the mileage of an engine, and that it has never been in a flood. Machine testing is also a great way to assess the condition of a used engine. Lastly, deal only with companies that are accredited by the Better Business Bureau. The internet is full of fly by night companies who talk a good talk, but then aren’t there to stand behind their warranty. BBB Businesses are held to standards that these fly by night companies just can’t meet.