I had a complex themed conversation with a customer late on Friday. I answered the phone and it was a gentleman with an inquiry into pricing for an engine job.
“Hi, I need a price for you guys to replace an engine for me.”
“If you give me the make, model, year, manual or automatic transmission, and number of cylinders, I’ll call you back with a quote.”
“Ah… sure… it’s a 1984 Acura four cylinder with manual transmission.”
Warning bells are clanging in my head because I know this guy can buy a late 1990’s to early 2000’s Acura with a running engine in decent condition for the same price as an engine job on his old clunker. It’s unfortunate, but true. I begin handling his inquiry with care.
“Is your Acura in showroom condition? I ask that because you could buy a much newer running one for the amount you’d pay to replace the engine on your ‘84.”
“I already talked to the guy at a wrecking yard and I can get an engine for $400. I just need a price for you to install it.”
I don’t install used engines because I’ve long passed the socioeconomic condition that would require me to do so for survival. They are a bad gamble, labor intensive, and you don’t know they’re faulty until you try to run it upon completion of the job. Of course the wrecking yard will send you another… no charge – the labor is a dead loss though. No matter how many times you explain to a customer about the gamble, if a shop takes in a used engine job… they own it until it runs.
“I’m sorry, I don’t install used engines or engines rebuilt by anyone other than my rebuilder.”
He seems genuinely surprised so I explain the reasons behind my policy.
“I can understand then what you were telling me about it being a better deal to buy a newer car with the same money. Do you know any shops that install used engines?”
“None I know of,” I answer truthfully. “The wrecker may know where you can get it done. They may have more than one shop buying used engines from them.”
“I’ll call him back and see. Thanks for the advice.”
“Sure. Thanks for calling. Sorry I can’t help”
I hung up thinking times better not get so bad I start thinking about used engine jobs. Looks like it’s time to audit my expense sheet and see if I can shave off a couple of bucks here and there so I won’t be tempted. :)