SW Engines Blog

Don't Buy a New Car, Buy a Used Engine!

Get a used radiator and maintain OEM quality

One important part that most don’t realize for your engine to run optimally is the radiator. Bottom line is its all about heat control. Heat is what kills engines and the radiators job is to keep coolant cool so it keeps the engine cool.

Now, when a radiator gets damaged in an accident the replacment alternatives are either an aftermarket (one thats produced by a company other than the manufacturer), new from dealer or a used OEM.

Here is the breakdown:

Aftermarket: Can be decent price but iffy on the actual quality because these are made by aftermarket dealers that do not have to adhere to same standards as OEM. Overall though can be a good solution for many domestic vehicles.

NEW Oem: OBviously the best choice if you’ve got a fat pocket book. Enough said

Used OEM Radiators: Ok – so in our opinion one of the best options if you shop it right. Make sure you buy from a good dealer and your getting OEM quality at a fraction of the price hands down.

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Updated: September 30, 2015 @ 4:22 am

Crimewave of Clunkers


Your car here for $400!

 Around the end of last August, the legislation in St. Louis, MO, changed a bit.  But that little bit has had a dramatic impact.

The government wanted to allow people to get their old, not working, eyesores off of their property and to a junkyard.  Prior to this legislation, if a car was less than 20 years old, you needed documentation to sell your car for scrap.  Unfortunately, for older cars, this documentation often got lost through the process of living, where it’s hard to keep track of a slip of paper.  Fortunately, this legislation made it easier, stating that cars 10 years and older didn’t need documentation, allowing for an extra decade of lost documentation.  Unfortunately, and here’s where the trouble comes in, you no longer needed to prove that your 10+ year old car was, in fact, yours.

Enter the less savory elements.  If someone with a slight lack of ethics could pick up a decade old car out of a store parking lot, they could ship it off to a junkyard and make a tidy profit off of the car’s scrap value, usually between $200 to 500.  But that leaves the car owner stranded at the store.  As if stealing their car isn’t bad enough, you add insult to injury and let the car owner’s milk spoil.

This little problem is creating a lot of work for the St. Louis police.  In fact, they say that incidents of car theft are increasing while other crimes are generally decreasing.  In general, just make sure you keep your car safe, even if you don’t live in St. Louis.

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Updated: September 23, 2015 @ 3:08 am

Old School vs The Modern Muscle Car

We just love the feeling of pulling up to a stop sign and looking at the car in the next lane, and just by the car he is driving you know for sure you could smoke him if you threw down. You know for sure simply because you have more muscle. After all, that is why you drive a muscle car. Right?

You don’t have to actually race. It is enough to simply know you would win if you did race. It is a feeling of power, domination, strength, glory. It boosts your testosterone and makes your blood flow quicker.

But it is not just the muscle car, it is the old-school muscle car. Let us explain: Lets pretend you are driving a 1966 Pontiac GTO Convertible with the 389 ci 3×2 barrel V8, and you pull up to a stop sign and look out to see some young punk driving a brand new 2015 Dodge Challenger with the 392 ci Hemi V8. You have to admit that his ride is pretty awesome for a new car, but it just isn’t a classic yet.

The stat sheets tell you everything and really bring things into perspective. Your 389 V8 delivers 380 horse power while his 392 produces 375 horses. So we are pretty evenly matched in both size and power.

Then you consider age. His Challenger hasn’t yet had it’s first oil change while your car just celebrated it’s 49th birthday! That’s almost a half a century of technological advances his car has over yours. With all the new technologies he must have a tremendous advantage.

But then you look just one more time at the stat sheet. The 2015 dodge Challenger promises it can do 0-60 in 6.6 seconds but the 49 year old stat sheet for the 1966 GTO claims 0-60 in 6.5 seconds! Unbelievable! Even at half-a-century you still have him out gunned.

Give the devil his due, his car does look good. Of course the Challenger MUST be painted black and that makes it look real good during the day light hours, but not so much at night. On the other hand my favorite flavor for the 66 GTO was the Montero Red which was O.K. during the day but just awesome after dark.

On the other hand, it can not be just looks and stats. There must be more. So we went looking for what that more might be. What does it say about you if you are driving a brand new Challenger? Well, it pretty much tells the world that you are a responsible citizen with good money management skills because you qualified for a loan to buy a really nice muscle car. That is good. It also says that you care about both your image and your ride. Also good.

But if you drive a 1966 GTO it also says you care about your ride, but it also hints at the fact that you are a die-hard gear head. To work on any car made in 2015 you need a computer and a degree from M.I.T. To work on that ’66 you needed a good set of sockets, a gap gauge, and a timing light. It was different. It is different! So back to the stop sign. If the GTO breaks down half way through the quarter mile you are going to get out, pop the hood, and go to work. If the Challenger bites the dust the driver is going to call Triple-A.

Imagine if you will hunting through an automotive junk yard until you find a pile of dented and faded scrap metal that use to be a 1966 GTO but now the engine has been parted out so they let you have the heap for a hundred bucks if you move it yourself. After a year of banging out the dents, and smoothing the body putty, and sanding and priming you are ready to deal with the engine.

You shop around until you are lucky enough to find a used 389 V8. It takes a while to install and test the engine and you are on a first name basis with the guys at the junk yard because you are there almost every day looking for a hub cap, or a knob for the radio, or that metal frame that goes around the headlight…

Finally the car is done, the paint is dry, you have polished her up like a Superbowl trophy, and the engine is purring. Then comes the day you first take it out on the town. You immediately notice the envious look of other drivers as they see your awesome GTO. Younger drivers with a “What IS that?” look on their face. Older drivers with the dreamy fond memory look.

Soon the first muscle car approaches, pulls up along side of you, but then fades back away. Others also make an appearance but none dare make a challenge. Eventually though you come to a stop sign and that foolish 2015 Challenger pulls up next to you and revs it’s engine.

Of course there are two down sides to owning the older vehicle. The first is simple. The 2015 is under warranty. The older car is not. The other down side is parts. If you need anything for a current year popular make/model you should be able to walk into any parts retailer and pick it up or order it for overnight delivery.

Getting parts for the older classic is not quite as easy. The parts, or at least most of them, are not manufactured any more so they are simply not available at Auto Zone or Pep Boys. You have to go looking for them. You cultivate friends who also drive old classic muscle cars and sometimes swap parts with them. You haunt junk yards and often buy parts when they are available, not just when you need them.

In fact, it is not uncommon for an owner of one of these classics to have three or four more of the same make/model/year in the back yard rusting away just to serve as a parts warehouse. Engine parts are necessary but don’t forget that they no longer make the body parts either.

There are still problems even if you can find the parts. A rebuilt alternator should be just as good as a brand new one, or nearly as good. On the other hand a part like a fan belt is different. They don’t manufacture that size any more so even if you find a brand new one still in the package, it had been sitting on a dusty shelf drying out for forty years! How much life could it still have in it?

Another thing you might consider is gas mileage. That is where the magic of the new car is really going to come in. 1968 was the year when Congress passed the first laws requiring American Auto manufacturers to improve the gas mileage new cars got. Also, just about that same time, is when leaded gasoline was fazed out for unleaded.

There is no question about it our big muscle cars and the giant luxury cars of the sixties did waste a lot of fossil fuel, and we really did not need so much lead in the exhaust clogging up our breathing air. So we look at both of these things as good progress. However, remember we talked about the stat sheets and wondering about that half-century of technological advances? Well, most of them went to making the engines more fuel efficient to meet the new, and constantly changing federal guidelines. So there is just no way around it, the 2015 Challenger is going to be able to log twice the MPG as the 1966 GTO.

As far as the unleaded gas, that is a bit more complicated and requires the following explanation: Valve covers on engines used to be made out of steel. The engine block was also steel. The valve would open and close around 500 times a minute slamming the cover closed every time. Occasionally a small chip would occur in either the valve cover or the engine block. Wherever there was a chip there would be a loss of compression and thus a loss of power. Lead, in the gas, would float around most of it going out the exhaust polluting the atmosphere, but some microscopic pieces of the lead would fall into and fill the cracks repairing them. Yea!

But we needed to get rid of the lead. Clever engineers discovered that if you make the valve covers out of tungsten, and seat the engine block with tungsten rings where the valve covers are going to hit, then they can take the beating without chipping. No chips, no loss of compression, no need for lead. Eventually, of course, the leaded gas was fazed out of the market.

When you go out and buy your used engine then you have to find out then if it has the tungsten valve covers or not. This all happened more than thirty-five years ago so even the used engine you buy will probably already be converted. If it is not you will have two choices. The first is an expensive refitting of the engine with the tungsten parts. The other option is to buy a gas additive that allows you to pour lead into unleaded gas. If you go with the second option you will be paying for that additive every time you buy gas for as long as you own the car.

So owning that old-school muscle car may not be for everyone. It takes time. It is a commitment. It costs money. But it keeps the glory days of the American muscle car alive!


Updated: September 23, 2015 @ 7:12 am

What Do Engines Do? Part 1: Combustion


Time to go take the kids to the big soccer game.  You gather the stuff, hand out the soccer balls, make sure everyone has cleats and jerseys, almost forget your keys, get them, hop in the car, refuse yet another bathroom request or you’ll be late, and turn the key.  Your car roars to life and you back out of the garage and get to the game with seconds to spare.


Of course, you expected the car to start.  Those (hopefully) rare days when the car revs and dies or doesn’t even start are generally the start or cause of a rather miserable day.  Having reliable engines is definitely a good thing.  But how does it work, anyway?


The Engine:  The Power Behind Your Car



Engine Basics



car engine

Here it is: the powerhouse that gets you where you want to go. All hail the convenience of engines!

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll just discuss the internal combustion engine that comes standard in most cars.  The basic idea of an engine is to release the energy stored in gasoline (or whatever fuel source you’d like to use), harness that, and translate the energy into motion.  This process starts out in a method rather like launching a potato gun, or using alka seltzer to turn a film canister into a rocket.  (If you don’t know what a film canister is, I pity you.)


For all of these examples, the motion comes because tightly compressed spaces with the right kick tend to expand explosively.  This expansion provides propulsion for whatever nearby surface can be prevailed upon to move.  In the case of a potato gun, you might get a bit of a nasty kick from the tube but the potato gets most of the force and goes rocketing away.  A film canister presses the lid to the ground, can’t expand more that way, and shoots the rest of the canister into the air at high speeds.  Expanding gas in an engine pushes pistons and voila, movement!


More Details on Piston Movement


Here’s what happens specifically.
You’ve got a cylinder with two injectors at the top.  One puts fuel into the engine while the other lets air in as the piston moves downwards.  The piston comes up again to compress the air and gasoline, and when it reaches the apex of its movement, the spark plug ignites the gas mixture.  This explodes with force, pushing the piston down.  The piston returns to the top to expel the exhaust, then the process starts over.  Therefore, the piston moves down and up again twice for each cycle.  To visualize, this page has a handy diagram of engine pistons.

Don’t forget that this entire cycle happens about 500 times a minute when your car is in motion, give or take depending on your car’s specs.


Later, we’ll talk about how combustion turns into motion.

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Updated: September 16, 2015 @ 2:23 am

How To Frustrate Car Thieves

They want your car. You worked to buy your dream vehicle and now car thieves will stop at nothing to get it. Over 1.1 million automobiles are stolen in the United States each year. That’s an average of 1 car stolen about every 26.4 seconds, leaving the owners looking for used engines for sale.


The only way you can guarantee you won’t have a car stolen is not to own one.  That’s not always the best option.  However, you can do some things to deter a car thief from targeting your car.  Here are 8 simple things you can do to make if more difficult for your car to be stolen.


1) Never leave your car unlocked and running in a public place. It’s even dangerous to leave your car running in your driveway. (more…)

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Updated: September 16, 2015 @ 2:23 am

The Mechanics of Finding Good Mechanics


A good mechanic is a great find and a bad thing to lose.   Not everyone has the time, knowledge, or experience to take care of their engine themselves.  But if you’ve moved, your mechanic has left, or any number of things that mean you’re short a mechanic, there are ways to find one.


Fixing Your Engine



Your mechanic will keep your car running like a well oiled machine. Because when he’s through with it, that’s what it’ll be.

Of course, everyone’s favorite place to look is the internet.  Use caution when searching on Google or any other public forum; you’ll find lots of results but many of those might be from people who were really just having a bad day and wanted to complain.  However, if you notice that someone takes the time to respond to reviews online, that’s a good sign that they actually care about their customers.


Driving past mechanic shops is a good way to scope them out – do they have a lot of customers or a few, and are they finishing the cars on the lot quickly?  Do they keep a clean shop?  If not, that filth and grime might end up on your engine.  Classic cars in the yard indicate that they take time and caution on the autos in their care.  They may also specialize in a particular type of car, which would be helpful to know before hand.


Word of mouth is, of course, always an excellent way to sort out the good mechanics, particularly if you ask those who tend to know a thing or two about cars.  Taxi drivers and chauffeurs, and other people who make their living with cars, will be likely to know where you can find a good, reliable mechanic.  Local car clubs will also prove helpful in that respect.


When you find a good mechanic, give them a test drive, so to speak.  Take your car in for a minor repair, which will let you gauge their services and prices as well as give you a chance to meet the mechanic in person.

That may seem like a lot of steps, but it’s really not too difficult.  And in the end, finding a good, reliable mechanic who won’t overcharge you will be worth it.

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Updated: September 9, 2015 @ 1:29 am

What is the 2014 Corvette LT1 6.2L Engine

Engine blueprint

New Engine, New Promises

On October 24th, GM revealed the LT1, the 5th generation in its small block engine line. The new V-8 has a 6.2 liter displacement, higher fuel efficiency than previous engines, and a 450-horsepower capacity. The engine will appear in the 2014 Corvette that goes on sale next year, as well as in different versions in the Chevrolet Silverado or the GMC Sierra, to name a few.


What’s new in the LT1?


First of all, the engine now features direct injection, continuously variable valve timing, and cylinder deactivation. The direct injection setup is isolated rather than rigidly mounted in an effort to reduce the normal direct injection issue of noise and vibration. The engine can also temporarily deactivate four of the cylinders.


In addition, the compression ratio, or the ratio of the volume of the cylinder with the piston fully lowered to the volume with the piston fully raised, is 11.5:1. This makes for a remarkably efficient and powerful engine. Also, while such a ratio would normally require premium fuel, careful engineering of the engine makes premium fuel optional, although suggested.


Basically, the entire engine has received a makeover, making it more powerful, more fuel efficient, keeping it compact, and able to get a Corvette from 0 to 60 in under 4 seconds. It’s an engine GM is proud of.

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