When you purchase a rebuilt engine from GoWesty, you are required to pay a deposit called a "core charge" until we have assessed the condition of your old engine (your "core"). We get a lot of questions regarding this policy (which is, by the way, an industry standard), and we want to take the opportunity to explain our core charge procedure thoroughly.
Our engines are sold on an "exchange basis." This means that when we send you a rebuilt GoWesty engine, we have to get your old engine in exchange. Your old engine is then stripped down and rebuilt from the ground up. Without this exchange process, the supply of engines to rebuild would quickly dry up. Thus, a rebuildable engine core is very valuable. This process literally recycles Vanagon engines, which is incredibly important to those of you who need a replacement engine. Sure, there are other engine platforms available for your Vanagon—commonly called "engine swaps"—but we believe strongly in the waterboxer platform. You can read about our opinion on that issue here.
So, your engine has given up the ghost, and now you need a GoWesty replacement. There are numerous reasons why your original engine failed, and we have to address those issues before we begin the rebuilding process. If you've had a catastrophic failure, such as a rod blowing through the top of the engine block, you can probably imagine that your core isn't as valuable. We work engine miracles, but that's asking a bit much. If you have some corroded head studs, we have to replace them prior to rebuilding the engine. Basically, every part of your core has an assigned value—the cost that we pay to have that part replaced—and we strive to be as transparent about that process as possible. Our engine tear down checklist covers all the criteria and values of your specific core components. In other words, we're not trying to hide anything from you. Each part has a real-world value, a cost that we absorb to fix the issue, and one that we pass along to the customer. You can review that checklist here.
"But," you say, "my engine was running just fine when I decided to upgrade to a higher output GoWesty rebuilt engine. It should be a perfect core. Why am I getting dinged for these things and not getting my full core deposit back?" We do whatever it takes to make the engine we shipped to you as perfect as humanly possible. Think about it this way: Let's say we get a "strong running" engine back as a core exchange. When we break it down, we find that two of the head studs are corroded. Now, technically, these studs aren't "broken" yet. We could choose to leave them as-is, rebuild the engine, and ship it out the door. But what if that was your engine? When one of those studs finally snapped—which would undoubtedly happen—you would expect GoWesty to pay to have it replaced, right? What if we simply said to you, "Oh, right, the head studs were not quite corrosion-free. Sorry that one broke, but you didn't actually pay for new head studs, so what are you complaining about?" Luckily, that's not how we operate. We choose to build our engines without cutting any corners. And since not every core needs the same work, we have a core deposit system that covers the worst-case scenario: that the core being returned is not rebuildable at all. The work that we have to perform on your less-than-perfect core comes out of the core deposit. That is exactly what happened to the core from which your engine was built.
This system is what enables us to stand so firmly behind our rebuilt engines. No one else offers a 4-year/48,000-mile warranty, and there's a reason for that. We build the best waterboxer engines in the business, and we do it with pride.
Some of the core exchanges we receive are in great shape, and the customer is reimbursed the core charge deposit in full. But this is becoming exceedingly rare. Keep in mind that the newest cores we receive were built back in 1990. And translating engine years into people years is kind of like thinking about your dog in terms of people years. The newest engine core is probably about mid-40s in people years. Do you know anyone in their mid-40s who doesn't have a few blemishes?
In the end, we want to sell you an engine that you can trust 100%. We have a fantastic track record, so the proof is in the pudding. If we were to turn a blind eye toward the quality of the cores we receive, the next customer in line would receive an inferior motor. The question is this: What if that next customer was you?
It's not bad business to charge an engine core deposit. It would be bad business not to. The key to this whole process is transparency, and we demonstrate that in every facet of our engine-building process. Hopefully—after reading this article and considering the information put forth—you'll agree with us that the engine core charge is, quite simply, a necessary evil.