Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: How do you tell how long an engine is going to last / how healthy it is without disassembling it?

asked by on

What're the best tests you can do to gauge how healthy an engine is / how long it'll last, aside from literally lifting the engine out of the car and disassembling it?

For example, you can start the car and listen to it idle. You can drive it. I heard something about doing a compression test, etc.

What is the suite of tests like this you can do to gauge how how healthy an engine is / how long it'll last?

Also, how accurate of an indicator are these tests? Knowing the results, how confident can you be that the engine will ultimately last a long time?

My car has 161000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

While there is really no way to tell how long any engine will last, a compression test is a good way to determine the overall health of an engine. If the compression test reveals that compression on all cylinders is within factory specs, then the engine is healthy but again, this is not really an indication of how long it will last. maintenance is key to a long engine life. If it was maintained well - oil and other vital fluids changed regularly - and continues to be maintained well, it can last a good long time.

If this is a vehicle you are looking to purchase, a pre-purchase inspection may be an option for you. Note that a compression test may not be a normal part of a pre-purchase inspection and may be an additional cost involved no matter who performs the inspection.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. How do you tell how long an engine is going to last / how healthy it is without disassembling it?

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Overheating

If the engine cylinder head is not leaking, then you have a radiator fan that is not coming on or the radiator is not flowing coolant. You could take the temperature at the top and bottom of the radiator to...

Q: Car sometimes doesn't start when the key is in the 'ON' position and when turned there is absolutely nothing happening.

Hi there. There is an issue with the ignition switch and it needs to be replaced or the wiring to the ignition switch is damaged in the steering column. If you vehicle has a tilt steering column, change the tilt...

Q: Does the size difference matter when changing tires and rims?

Hi there. The rim size for you have included are good and the same. The numbers that are for a tire as displayed as the following: The first number (ie: 215, 225) is the width of the tire tread The...

Related articles

How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...