Car rebuilds - Jonathan {p}
Hi all

I have been having some fun with cars of late. I bought a saab 9-5, but the reverse gear went awry, so got it fixed. After that, the whole car just didn't feel right, I lost confidence in it and sold it. I am now looking for something else, and have decided upon a mazda 626 (unless people here have horror stories about these). I decided to budgetize and get one for around 2.5k (and keep the rest of my fortune safely locked up in dan air shares - I just know they will rebound soon). For that I should be able to get a 97-98 decent spec with fsh and around 50-80k.

The main reason for this posting is to ask people about rebuilt parts. In my own opinion I would be reluctant to buy a car that has had its gearbox or engine rebuilt, as it signifies that either the owner didn't look after the car, or its symptomatic of an unreliable car (singular rather than generic).

What are other people's opinions? Would you buy a car with a rebuild or would you prefer the original untouched engine, which could probably just as easily fail on you? Would a headgasket job (Complete with skim) put you off (assuming its a pro job done properly).


Car rebuilds - Rob the Bus
Jonathan - I'd rather have a high mileage car that's had it's engine professionally rebuilt, than a low mileage car with an original, knackered engine!

As long as any rebuild job has been done by a reputable garage, with paperwork to back it up, then I don't think that you have much to fear.

And, FWIW, I personally don't think that you can do much better for your money than a Mazda 626.


Car rebuilds - M.M
Soap box subject of mine!

I will never knowingly buy (or advise anyone else when buying) a car that has ever had a replacement transmission or engine....not even a new head gasket.

There are actually very few cases these days of an engine flying apart before the car is ready for the breakers...unless it has been abused and neglected. Lack of oil changes and low oil levels are the biggest killers here.

So if we assume a diesel engine should go well over 200K without attention.... and perhaps a petrol to 160K plus....well why would you ever expect to see a car being sold with a replacement engine. By the time they need one their value is so low they just get scrapped.

If we assume, even with abuse, the car will not need a new engine until 75-100K then by that age is the owner going to spend £2500 on a proper quality (example Astra 1.7D inc fitting and clutch) rebuild? No if they do it at all they'll get some bodged up recon or used unit from E&M, the life of that is likely to be many times shorter than the original.

Head gaskets are even worse. A car should never need a head gasket in the life of the engine if it isn't overheated and the coolant is changed two yearly. But once changed they do have a habit of going again, with diesels in particular.

What makes it worse is so many times you hear an owner/seller say "Oh it's had a full recon engine within the last 10K"....and they never offer a scrap of paperwork to support its source. And that's because his mate fitted a used unit of unknown history from the local breakers pile.

Rant over (for now).

Car rebuilds - DenisO
I have to take issue with the head gasket scenario MM. There are certain engines which however well they are treated will blow head gaskets when they get to highish mileage.
V8 Landrover 3.5's and 3.9's have a habit of doing it at around 75 to 90 thou and Minis about the same.
As long as the head is skimmed and a good quality gasket set is used then the engine should have many more years of life after the job.
Car rebuilds - M.M

Fair point about the head gasket on a *few* vehicles, in particular older designs as you mention have quite robust castings and may well happily take a gasket at that mid-life point.

Problem is many modern engines have heads that will quickly twist and minimal cooling systems. Unless you are spot on with the head gasket procedure they are quite likely to give more trouble in the future.

Many folks (and garages) fail to get to grips with issues surrounding correct gasket type/thickness, skimming requirement, any valve work needed after skimming (some diesels), stretch bolt replacement, correct torquing procedure, coolant bleeding, even not repairing the fault that caused the gasket to blow in the first place(!).

No there are so many issues I'd rather avoid the problems.

Car rebuilds - stefanta
I changed the head gaskets on the Astra, and the valve seals. after very ecessive oil consumption, afterwords the engine never consumed a drop. however the engine was VERY simple to work on. all the ancilery components could easily be removed, the engine was very acessable, and pleasingly basic.
However i would not dream of doing the same thing on the cavalier or the laguna (should i have to). far to many gadgets, and things under that bonnet. much hassle.

1983 (A) Vauxhall Astra MK1 1.3.
1993 (K) Vauxhall Cavalier 2.0i.
1999 (T) Renault
Car rebuilds - Gen
I don't disagree middleman but how would you know if it had a head gasket change? If you ask you're just buying from the most dishonest seller maybe...
Car rebuilds - Dynamic Dave
how would you know if it had a head gasket change?

If it's recently been done there will be tell tale signs. New bolts & clean exhaust manafold threads, for example.
Car rebuilds - M.M

As DD says a *very* recent head gasket change might show, frankly more than about 2 or 3 months ago and you'd struggle.

But the funny thing is many sellers will proubly announce it as a positive benefit...and then you ask to see the receipt to find his mate's auntie did it for beer money, no it didn't need a skim and what are stretch bolts anyway.

Of course I'm being a bit cynical about this but honestly you need to think damn hard about the reason it needed a gasket and the quality of the work or it will come back to haunt you.

True story...Chap has a head gasket go an an "expensive to work on" modern diesel that doesn't usually suffer failures. Because of the high cost he does it himself without replacing the head bolts, without a skim and using a very cheap pattern gasket. Goes again within 500 miles. This time has it skimmed and uses an OE gasket set. Goes again in another 200 miles.

Eventually finds he had a cooling system fault that caused both it is fine once he'd replaced it for the third time!

If you'd been the buyer of the vehicle before attempt three you'd be well fed up.


Value my car