2008-09-24

Meaner than a junkyard dog

Right. I am at the crossroads about my engine again.

So up until 12 months ago, it was not using a drop of oil. Then it went to using a quart (0.95l) every 1000 miles (1609.3km), then every 900 miles, and so on, until we got to the point where I am adding oil every 600 miles. Needless to say, I don't like where this is going.

So I began looking at my options. There are a bunch, too:

  • Get the existing engine rebuilt for performance, with overbore and the whole shebang. That would be in the $3-4000 range.
  • Buy a new engine from Mazda Motorsports (their racing development arm) for about $2500. That comes without any warranty though.
  • Buy a used low-mileage engine for $900-1300. They usually come with parts and labor warranties ranging from 3 to 36 months.
  • Take a wild guess that it's the valve guide stem seals and have those replaced without pulling the engine head for about $500. If it's not the valve stem seals (could be oil control rings, or something else for all I know), that might not help much or at all, making it money thrown away.
  • Do nothing, just add oil, until I run on oil and gas mixture, like a chainsaw.
  • Sell the car.
Somehow, the last two options do not appeal to me, and the third before last is too much of a bet to take. Building a race engine seems like an overkill. This leaves me with two truly viable options: buy a new or used engine and try to off-set some of the cost by selling my original engine.

Here's the entertaining part: I requested quotes for used engines from a number of junkyards, and a handful replied saying they had the engine I need. My follow-up question to all of them was the same: "What year is the donor Miata? Is the engine 1.8 or 2 liter? How many miles on it? Do you have leak-down test results and/or any other test results for this engine?"

Here's what some of the replies were:

We have many.
Are peace of mind & better choices important to you?
Does accurate mileage & a valid warranty matter?
To proceed, what do you plan to spend for condition, mileage & warranty you can verify?
ASK YOURSELF: "Can I afford to do this over & over, if the part is wrong, or fails sooner than I expected?"
[Signature]

Thank you for requesting a quote from D&J Auto Parts. We have the Engine you requested for 1999 Mazda Car - MX-5 Miata, in stock. All parts come with a 90 day warranty. We try to beat any vendor's price. Please call XXX-XXX-XXXX

Yes we have a nice low mileage engine in stock. All our motors are cleaned and inspected by our most qualified technicians. Our motors are compressioned checked, leaked down checked , palletized,and ready to ship same day. The cost of the engine you requested is $_____. If you have any questions please feel free to call our toll free number XXX-XXX-XXXX.

It is of course encouraging to see people comfortable with copy-and-paste functionality, however their use of it did not bring me any closer to knowing whether they had what I wanted.

And the quest continues.