How to Not Get Scammed or Ripped Off Crate Engine Shopping

by | Jan 4, 2021

How to Not Get Scammed or Ripped Off Crate Engine Shopping

When you are spending thousands on a Ford or Chevy crate engine for your classic hot rod, you need to know your money is well invested with the right company. You don’t want to do the job twice, you don’t want to regret doing business with the wrong company, and you definitely don’t want to get ripped off. This blog was written so none of these things happen to you.

Knowing the basics in this blog will help you navigate the engine industry and avoid doing business with a scammer or a company that doesn’t deserve your hard-earned money. I will walk you through how to intelligently shop and read warranty fine print, advertisements, quality control, quality of parts used, and general information online.

Consumers get into trouble buying based on lowest price. Let’s put you in the drivers’ seat so you can get the best bang for your buck!

Asks You to Pay by Check or Cash

If you prefer to pay by check or cash that’s fine, but if the salesman you’re talking with is asking for check or cash then that is a red flag. Shady companies want you to pay with a check or cash because that eliminates your credit card company from protecting your money. You can dispute a credit card transaction if you are scammed but once that check is cashed, it’s permanent. Every legitimate business in America has a credit card processor. If they are persuading you to pay by check, cash, PayPal, Venmo, a bank wire or transfer… run for the hills

Real Reviews

Anyone can go online and write about anyone or any business. To get a true feel for a company, do the following: search YouTube for testimonials, look through social media for interactions between the business and its followers, find other companies that have done business with them, or search for news articles about the company.

In the world of business, you’ll see bad and good reviews. You can’t satisfy everyone unfortunately. But really read the reviews and see if the good outweighs the bad. A personal example here at West Coast Engines is we had an upset customer and left a bad review. We tried to make things right but he never wanted a solution to his problem. And later we found out he did this through his entire project. Miserable people will be miserable people. So really read the reviews carefully and optimistically for any company but if you see a bad trend or an abundance of bad reviews, steer clear!

If they are not on Facebook or Instagram or YouTube don’t even bother considering them. If they have a social media account, check to see if the comments and interaction is real. Also make sure that their posts are original and not stolen from other companies. We have had competitors literally download our pictures and repost them as their engines.


Some engine builders will only be on eBay or Craigslist and not even put in the time and effort to create a website for themselves! See if you can look up the owner or see what their factory looks like. See if you can schedule a visit. If you’re on the fence about them, ask for references. Get some evidence that they are REAL!

It’s important to see not just a background of the company, but a story with names and photos of the individuals that work at the company. Make sure their people are willing to put their full name on the product. It’s tough to find this nowadays so it’s best to do a little more research and find out where exactly that company started and if the business names were changed. This is very often overlooked but if the people that work there are hiding behind that company logo faceless and nameless, what are they hiding from?

Me personally, I have nothing to hide. My name is way out there. I’ve been in this industry for almost 15 years now and I buy all my parts direct from Holley, Borla, CVF Racing and some of the biggest names out there. I’ve formed relationships with everyone and never burned bridges. There’s some really good people in this industry! When you find one, keep them around.

Sketchy Warranty

You want details in writing. When does the warranty start? Is there labor paid? How long is the warranty good for? What voids it? Does it cover parts? Are there installation instructions?

Read the Fine Print – Disclaimers are a way of business, but how do you know when it’s a red flag? Here’s a few examples…

  • “Please return your warranty card back within 14 days of receiving the engine to receive the warranty.” – How can you have the engine installed, running, warranty paperwork filled out, and sent within 14 days? This is a way for companies to have an excuse not to cover their work. At West Coast Engines, we give customers several months!!


  • “Exact HP is unknown Engines has not been dynoed.” – Major red flag. If the engine is being advertised at 500 HP and yet the power is unknown… how does that work? And it’s definitely not a good sign that they offer a turnkey engine without at least firing it up to see if it runs.

“We will beat any price.” – Not a good sign. They are either overcharging or they need your money to pay to stay alive.

Sleezy Sales Tricks

“A CUSTOMER BOUGHT IT AND HAD US BUILD IT AND THEY FAILED TO PAY IT OFF SO WE ARE SELLING IT FOR WHATS OWED ON IT.” This is a lie. There is a company on eBay that does this. Here at West Coast Engines, we do 300+ engines per year and out of those maybe 2-4 end up not paying or cancelling. This is an old greasy used car salesman trick. That’s probably a guy you won’t want to give $7,000

“We will beat any price.” – Not a good sign. They are either overcharging or they need your money to pay to stay alive.


I always tell guys, “USE YOUR GUT AND DO YOUR RESEARCH!”  If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

It’s really that simple.  Good people will always sell a good product and they will always do the right thing to help their customers.

You know you’re doing business with the wrong person if you wouldn’t invite them over for dinner!

Thanks for reading! I’m sure I’ll their will be more added to this book over time, but I think this is a good head start to doing my part and saving people from getting burned. Happy hot rodding!

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