How to Buy a Used Engine for a Volkswagen Golf

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How to Buy a Used Engine for a Volkswagen Golf

Engine failure while out on the road is dangerous, highly inconvenient, and an unpleasant experience for those stranded in remote areas. While a replacement engine is rather costly, it is not as expensive as buying a new car altogether. To make it more affordable, consider buying a secondhand engine and save a bundle. Buyers looking for used Volkswagen Golf engines should expect the same level of outstanding dynamics and fuel efficiency that the carmaker is renowned for, even with used parts.

There are a variety of used engines on the market from sources like salvage yards, garages, classified advertisements, online used car parts retailers, and marketplaces like eBay, so its possible to get a car up and running in no time. Before purchasing a used engine for a Volkswagen Golf, buyers should consider the causes of engine failure and the factors that they need to mull over while searching for a product.

Engines: The Heart of the Matter

While not everyone tinkers under the bonnet, all drivers know that the engine is the heart of the car. The primary task of an engine is to convert fuel into motion using the different systems and a process of ignition and combustion to move the tyres. The basic parts of the internal combustion engine include the valves, piston and piston rings, head gaskets, crankshafts, and connecting rods. The most common signs to indicate that the engine of a Volkswagen Golf is in grave trouble include the warning lights for engine trouble, loud scary noises, white smoke under the bonnet, and the engine running roughly and with less power.

The German Volkswagen Group has a host of exclusive technologies for their engines including the Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) and the Suction Diesel Injection (SDI.) Their engines are high quality and of such great workmanship that even the aviation, industrial, and marine industries rely heavily on Volkswagen's world renowned reliability to supply engines for their aircraft, machinery, and boats.

Signs That an Engine Needs to be Replaced

Car engines fail for a number of reasons, including internal stress and fatigue, poor maintenance, low quality, incorrect installation, and overheating due to coolant leaks. Sudden squeals, whirrs, pops, and foul smells from the Volkswagen Golf while driving should be warning signs to motorists. Try not to wish them away; instead, attempt to identify the engine noises to check whether they are signs of serious trouble. The best thing to do is to visit a garage so that a mechanic can diagnose the problem using scanning tools and expertise. It is also financially prudent to wait for these experts to write off an engine first before looking for a replacement.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Used Engine for a Volkswagen Golf

There are many factors that must be considered when buying a used engine for a Volkswagen Golf, including compatibility, specification, type of engine state, fuel type, and mileage.

Compatibility of a Used Engine for a Volkswagen Golf

Buyers should note their old engine's year to make sure that they buy a component that is compatible with their car. A quick look through the owner's manual can solve this problem if buyers cannot find the details on the engine. Volkswagen Golf models have spanned seven generations from 1974, so buyers should select engines from similar cars or investigate whether they can use an engine from the same model, but for a different year. Spending time double checking the details can save buyers time, energy, and the cost of replacing an engine that does not work.

Specification for a Used Engine for a Volkswagen Golf

When reading up on Volkswagen Golf engines, buyers may see lots of numbers and letters in many listings that provide details in a short form. These are engine specifications and the numbers usually signify the number of cylinders, engine displacement or capacity in litres, configuration, rated motive capacity, and sometimes the type of trim used. For instance, a Volkswagen Golf Mk4 GTI 1.8t is a Grand Touring Injection (GTI), with a 1.8t engine displacement in litres with the "t" to signify that it is turbocharged. Buyers should remember that the larger the number, the more powerful the engine; larger number of cylinders or a larger engine capacity means more power.

Engine State of a Used Engine for a Volkswagen Golf

Short block and long block engine states look the same physically, but contain different engine components. Short block engines are incomplete and require additional parts to work well, which provides greater choice to buyers. While they are cheaper than the long block models, installation takes much longer. Long block states are almost complete engines that require few additional parts, but are more expensive than short blocks. Long blocks offer better performance with fewer problems. The following table compares the short block and long block engine states.

Type of Engine State



Short block

Greater choice



Requires additional parts

Installation takes longer

Long block

Nearly complete

Few additional parts required

Better performance

Fewer problems

Quick installation

Limited choice

Needs a compatible transmission

More expensive

Well informed buyers that can tell the difference between short block and long block engine states know what to expect from them. This means that they are in a position to gauge whether they are getting their money's worth.

Mileage for a Used Engine for a Volkswagen Golf

While mileage is important for calculating a car's age, when buying used parts, determining the value of an engine takes more than a peek at the odometer. Low mileage is always desirable, but the degree of wear and tear on an engine depends on maintenance and driving terrain, so this should be taken into account. For example, an engine with high mileage that was well cared for with proper maintenance is inherently better than one with low mileage that was poorly maintained and suffered repeated abuse on the worst roads.

Fuel Type for a Used Engine for a Volkswagen Golf

The two most common types of fuel are petrol and diesel and those looking for an engine for a Volkswagen Golf need to note the type that their engine uses. Petrol heats up faster than diesel, and is ideal for converting to futuristic hybrid variants. Traditional diesel is cheaper than petrol, but is much slower, dirty, and has a bad odour. The more environmentally friendly and refined version of diesel costs much more than petrol because of its enhanced fuel efficiency. The turbocharged petrol or diesel engine models of Volkswagen supercharge traditional fuels, giving them greater power output for a given capacity, or simply, more power and efficiency.

Used Engine Checklist

Before making a buying decision, go through a checklist to verify that everything about the used engine is in order. The coolant in the radiator should be clean without any oil floating on the surface. The oil should be clean too, with no white foamy residue. The spark plugs should be free of any damage and all of the parts bolted into place securely. Compression tests are good indicators, if buyers can do them. If the thermostat housing has rust or discolouration, the coolant could be faulty. If it is possible to hear the engine run, it should not produce any noise.

Buying a Used Engine for a Volkswagen Golf on eBay

Buying a used engine for a Volkswagen Golf on eBay is simplicity itself as the site is intentionally designed for your convenience. When you perform a keyword search for "used Volkswagen Golf engines", hundreds of results are listed, and you can whittle them down to a dozen or so with a few smart filters.

Item Description

The listing descriptions usually contain images and information about the engine and any other parts included. Take your time and read through all of the details because an engine is a big investment. Remember to check for compatibility. Put the "Ask a question" link on the listing page to good use and talk to the seller about delivery options and whether you can arrange for a local collection if he or she is nearby. Obtain a vehicle history report to verify the mileage for the engine.

Seller Feedback

The feedback that sellers receive from previous buyers should give you a good idea about their credibility and reliability. Choose listings from eBay Top-rated sellers for peace of mind.


The darling of family hatchbacks and winner of the Car of the Year 2013 award, the Volkswagen Golf is one that all owners want to keep going for as long as possible. They do not let a little thing such as engine failure get in the way of their enjoyment and consider used engine markets for a low cost alternative that gets them back on the road as soon as possible. Buying used engines is environmentally friendly too and creates jobs in the thriving used car parts industry.

Before starting on the hunt for a used engine for a Volkswagen Golf, buyers need to get important information about their car, such as the VIN number and model year so that there are no compatibility issues with the replacement engine. Buyers should also consider the mileage, engine states, and fuel type in order to make short work of choosing and buying the right engine.

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