What should I look for or ask about to avoid when buying "rebuilt" or "reconditioned" engines?

Johnny Utah asked:
What should I look for or ask about to avoid when buying "rebuilt" or "reconditioned" engines?

Answered By Justin Cupler, Contributing Writer:
First thing is to establish the line between reconditioned and rebuilt. 
Rebuilt means the bearings are changed, it has new rings, possible new or rebuild heads, all new gasket, new wrist pins and other major internal components. All of that on top of a new timing belt and other wearable components. 
A reconditioned engine has only basic items replaced, such as: water pump, timing belt and gaskets. Typically no internal components are replaced. 
You should always ask for the build sheet of a rebuilt engine. You want to see what was replaced and what brands they used (if available). You also want to check the warranty; most rebuilt engines should have at least a 50,000 mile warranty and most reconditioned engines should have a 12 month warranty. 
Unfortunately, there are not many things to look out for in these engines, as most of the parts that were changed are on the inside. One thing you can look at are the seams where the gaskets should be sealing. Look for any seepage or grease. This engine should be 100% spotless, almost to the point that you can eat off of it. Check the spark plug holes, there should either be brand new spark plugs or dummy plugs keeping the holes covered. If there are used plugs, than that is an area of concern. 
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