The Best Places to Find LS Engines for your Discovery Engine Swap
LS engines are all over the place, but the best deals are hidden unless you know where to look.
LS engines are some of the most common engines around. GM made millions of them, especially the Vortec truck engines. This post will go through some of the best places to look for LS engines for your Land Rover Discovery LS engine swap.
Best place: Car-Part
We wholeheartedly recommend Car-Part (www.car-part.com) as the best place to find a used LS engine near you. Car-Part is a index of the inventories of thousands of local junkyards and auto part recyclers. It's as easy as sticking the year, make, and model of what you are looking for, and your zip code. Car-Part will show you different parts, where it's located, and usually mileage. The interface can be a bit clunky at times and you might have to enter search terms multiple times to see all your options (see this page for information on search terms), but overall Car-Part is an extremely useful search tool.
This tends to work great for our swap. In many cases the engines are sold without accessories, harnesses, or ECMs. This way you don't end up paying for parts you do not need and can buy new commonly-replaced parts, such as a starter and engine harness. Car-Part can also be extremely useful to find other parts needed for the swap, such as a drive-by-cable throttle body, or other parts for the Discovery, like a locking transfer case if doing a CDL swap into an 2002-2003 truck. A lot of the time parts from salvage yards also come with some sort of replacement warranty.
Facebook Marketplace & Craigslist
These two are usually the cheapest option, but can be a little bit more questionable for reliability. Common search terms include "ls 5.3 engine" and "chevy silverado engine". Your results may vary, but there are deals to be found. If picking up any engine from one of these sellers, make sure to bring a breaker bar along and try to spin the engine over by hand to make sure that it is not seized. Also, make sure that the seller includes parts attached to the engine like the coil packs, intake manifold, injectors, etc. These little parts can seem trivial compared to the rest of the engine, but buying all those parts new can be surprisingly expensive.
eBay can be a great place to find LS engines. There is a couple of issues with this though. A lot of times on eBay you can find full takeouts from trucks. A full takeout means that the deal includes the engine, LS ECM, harness, all accessories, and sometimes the transmission. This can be good, but it could come with a lot of things you may not need. For example, sometimes the ECM with the engine is not the one the swap requires. Furthermore, reusing the old GM harnesses can sometimes be a major pain versus ordering a new harness from an aftermarket supplier. With our current swaps, we also don't need the entire GM accessory drive. Therefore, you end up paying for this stuff that you really don't use with the swap.
The other issue with eBay is cost. A lot of the sellers on eBay are catering to a much larger engine swap market and therefore put on an "LS tax" on any LS engine. This can be a significant up-charge from most of the general junkyard engines found from Car-Part, sometimes as much as 30-50%. The other big issue is shipping cost. LS engines are inevitably near you. Chances are however that the eBay seller won't be. If shipping is included in the deal, then that's fine. However, if not, shipping charges for engines can be very high – especially if you are a home mechanic without a loading dock. There are usually additional fees for liftgate shipping services.
There are many other places we have heard about people getting LS engines to swap. Local or national Facebook hot-rodding for sale pages (see Sloppy Mechanics Classifieds Facebook Group or LS1Tech Forums) can be a good place to find LS engines, although reliability on some of those engines may be a little questionable. Friends and family are also common sources we hear about. Some such local sellers may be open to trades, which is a potential way to decrease the cost of your conversion.
Rebuilt & Remanufactured Engines
The list wouldn't be complete without a nod to rebuilt and remanufactured engines. LS engines are very reliable, but while the engine is out, it can be prudent to replace commonly worn out items or, if you want, start fresh and rebuild the entire engine. Your local machine shop is likely familiar with LS engines and is usually a great place to get a deal on rebuilding an LS engine that you provide. National re-manufacturers tend to be a little more expensive, but are another great option.
See our Land Rover Discovery LS Swap Kits here.