Auto Service World
Feature   December 1, 2002   by Jim Anderton

It’s Too Young To Die!

A remanufactured engine is a motorist's ticket to years of additional life from their vehicle... IF the installation is careful and complete.

It’s not the easiest sell for most shops. Getting the Canadian motorist to invest in a remanufactured engine takes concerted effort. At the elevated price point that this major surgery requires, the value proposition requires trouble-free driving from the beginning and that means that the pressure is on to install and set up fresh engines carefully. The Automotive Engine Rebuilder’s Association has a vested interest in reducing infant mortality in reman engines and has prepared a useful checklist for use before that critical first startup. Tools? Besides the usual hand tools, safety glasses, an “ABC” fire extinguisher, a vacuum/pressure gauge, timing light (if applicable) and a digital multimeter are useful, as can be a scan tool that captures errant codes or transients. The AERA recommends copying the following list for future reference. And adding a copy to the customer’s invoice adds credibility:

Prestart Checklist

1. Is the battery charged/capable of holding a charge?

2. Is the crankcase filled with the correct amount and grade of oil?

3. Is there adequate oil pressure during pre-lube?

4. Is the vacuum system complete and correct?

5. Initial ignition timing in spec? Leave timing light hooked up.

6. Is there fresh gasoline in the tank?

7. Is there adequate fuel pressure at the rail?

8. Was the radiator checked, replaced or repaired?

9. Is the coolant fresh and mixed correctly with distilled water?

10. Are belts aligned and free of interference?

11. Is the exhaust system tight?

After Start Checklist

12. What is the RPM and cold oil pressure? Do not Idle Engine! Record readings.

13. Is the engine valve train quiet? Some engines take a few minutes to quiet down.

14. What is the vacuum and engine RPM? Record readings.

15. What is the warm RPM and ignition timing? Record readings.

16. Are there any gasoline, coolant or oil leaks? If yes, stop engine.

17. Check warm engine coolant temperatures and oil pressure OFTEN!

18. Is the charging system working? Check voltage at several points.

19. Did the coolant level drop? Top it off with the correct coolant mixture.

Warm Engine Checklist

20. Are exhaust manifolds red-hot? Check ignition timing, vacuum leaks.

21. What is the RPM and hot oil pressure after 30 minutes?

22. Check mechanical ignition timing without vacuum advance.

23. Does the vacuum advance (if equipped) function properly?

24. EGR functioning normally?

25. Perform I/M emissions check if applicable.

Information courtesy of the AERA Technical Committee. Visit for more information.

Just replacing the head? From a consumer standpoint, a new head has similar performance expectations to a new engine, so mistakes here are just as serious. Consider 1984-93 Honda 1.5L engines. Honda considers oil consumption excessive when the rate is in excess of one litre per 1500 kilometers traveled. This engine uses a metered oil supply to the cylinder head by means of a metal orifice located in the deck of the cylinder block. It often times is stuck to the cylinder head during the removal process and may be misplaced during cleaning and handling. If the orifice, Part #15140PM3000, is not reinstalled during assembly, excessive amounts of engine oil will enter the cylinder head. This additional oil will then collect under the valve cover and overwhelm the valve stem seals. The oil will then enter the combustion process and the exhaust system, causing oil loss.

Some AERA member remanufacturers/rebuilders increase the opening size of this orifice slightly, anytime the cylinder head is removed from the block. Drilling the existing restrictor to .062″ (1.575 mm) in size will increase the volume of oil to the cylinder head and camshaft. That procedure has been beneficial during cold starts when ambient temperatures are very low. Increasing the orifice hole size slightly should not overwhelm the cylinder head with oil, providing all other oil clearances are within specifications.

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