How Much Does it Cost to Replace an Engine?

How Much Does it Cost to Replace an Engine?

A blown or destroyed engine is one of the worst and most expensive things that can happen to a vehicle. Regardless of whether the engine was destroyed by a fire, an accident or a blown head gasket, the solution is the same, you need a new engine.

Replacing an engine can be a daunting task and in almost all cases will require the services of a professional. If your vehicle requires a new engine, one of your first questions will probably be “how much is this going to cost?”

There is no definitive answer to that question as each engine and situation is different but it is possible to come up with a ballpark figure. Before you start pricing engines there are a few other factors you will have to consider, ranging from the type of engine you need to whether a new or rebuilt engine is the right choice for you.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about replacing an engine.

What You Need to Consider

Dropping a new engine in a vehicle is pretty complicated work and should always be done by a professional unless you are extremely comfortable working on your car.

Before you get started, you need to decide what type of engine you need and determine the scope of the job so you can accurately estimate the cost to switch out the engine.

One of the first considerations is whether you need a “short-block”, a “long-block” or a complete engine. Here is a quick overview to help you determine your engine needs:

  • Short Block: A short block will be the most affordable option but you will need to provide some additional parts. This is an incomplete engine that comes with the engine block, crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, bearings and oil pan. However, you will need to provide additional parts that may include, but are not limited to, cylinder heads, gaskets, and an oil pump.

Make sure that any parts you are taking off your old engine to put on the new short block are in decent shape and will fit on your new powerplant.

  • Long Block: This is a more complete engine and comes with everything the short block has as well as cylinder heads, camshafts, valves, valve springs and a new head gasket. You may still need to provide some parts such as valve covers, exhaust manifold, and timing covers.
  • Complete Engine: This will include all necessary parts and will be the most expensive option. Crate engines are easy to find, and the more common ones are fairly affordable.

Another factor you will need to consider is whether you are buying a new engine from the manufacturer or looking for a used one. Here are a few pros and cons of each:

New: Comes with a warranty and should include all parts. You know what you are getting with a new engine and have recourse if something should go wrong. Obviously this is the more expensive option when it comes to replacing your engine.

Used: Going with a used engine will absolutely save money but it does require some due diligence. Shop around, read reviews and do some research. A few tips for finding a used engine:

  • Make sure it will fit: Get the VIN number, engine code, and the production date off of your current engine and make sure the new one is compatible. Make sure the engine will interchange directly without having to modify the long block. Expect to have to change some of the bolt on parts because different vehicles use the same long block but different bolt on accessories like intake and exhaust manifolds.
  • Get Engine History: Get the VIN number and pull a CarFax to make sure the engine was not involved in a car accident. Ask the supplier if the engine has been run tested, compression tested or inspected internally. Verify that the engine has good compression, good oil pressure and the internal components are up to specifications.
  • Get Your Mechanic Involved: Have your mechanic review the engine details and make sure it will fit properly and is a good choice for your particular car. Once the engine arrives, have your mechanic inspect it to make sure it is in the condition agreed upon and all parts are included.
  • Shipping Costs and Warranty: Shipping costs can be substantial with an engine so make sure those costs are included in the final price you agree on with the seller. Verify that the engine supplier offers a warranty you can count on, the longer the warranty the better. Ask about extended warranties and labor warranties. Make sure the seller has a good reputation online and check with the BBB and other consumer safety sites before signing on the dotted line.

Engine Costs

The cost of an engine can vary dramatically depending on what type of engine you are looking to purchase, so determining an exact price can be difficult. Short block engines for a run of the mill mass produced vehicle can be pretty affordable while replacing the engine in a Ferrari can require you to take out a second mortgage on your home.

Here are a few ballpark figures when it comes to engine costs:

  • Long Blocks: The typical American or Japanese rebuilt four-cylinder or V-6 can run from $1,500 to $2,500. This price can go up dramatically for a sports or luxury car. A Corvette Z06 LS7 crate engine will run you $14,000 while a used Ferrari engine can push that cost up to $45,000 or higher.

Diesel engines will cost more as a general rule. Expect to pay roughly $5,000 to $10,000 for a rebuilt Detroit Diesel engine and around $4,000 for a Ford Powerstroke.

  • Short Blocks: You can often pick up a rebuilt short block for under $1,000 but cost can go up to $2,000 depending on what type of engine you need. Remember, with a short block you will need to provide or purchase additional parts, so make sure you include those costs in your estimates.

Labor Costs

Much like the cost of the engine, labor costs can vary dramatically. In many cases, labor costs can be just as expensive as the engine itself. Giving an exact cost here is impossible as each engine provides its own set of challenges but following is a quick overview of labor costs.

Dealership: Having a new engine installed by a car dealership is usually one of the most expensive ways to replace an engine. Expect labor costs to run up to $200 an hour which means if dropping in the new engine takes 15 hours (this is fairly typical) you can be on the hook for $3,000 in labor costs and that is if everything goes smoothly, complications can run that cost even higher.

Independent Garage: Hourly rates tend to be lower at these types of garages so you may only be paying between $75 and $125 per hour, which drops the price down to $1,125 on the low end. In the majority of cases, labor costs will run at least $1,000 and go up from there.

Older vehicles tend to be cheaper than newer cars and if you go with a short block remember to consider the time spent adding all of the additional parts before it an be dropped into the car. This can add up to a significant expense so be sure to factor these costs in when deciding on a short or long block.

While it can vary between cars, expect an engine replacement to take at least ten hours of labor and more commonly, 15 to 20 hours. A short block will involve more labor costs than a ready to go crate engine, but the crate engine will have a higher cost than the short block so its important to sit down and run the numbers to figure out which is the least expensive option in your particular situation.

Do It Yourself: This is obviously the least expensive option but is not recommended unless you are extremely confident working on your vehicle. Replacing an engine is one of the more complicated repairs you can perform and in almost all cases it is best left to a professional.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that there can be huge variances in the cost to replace an engine but we can draw a few conclusions and come up with a basic ballpark figure.

In most cases, a standard engine replacement on the typical car or truck will usually run between $2,500 and $5,000 at a local garage and could run up to $7,000 or more if you use a dealership and buy a ready to go crate engine.

This figure will go up dramatically if you are replacing the engine in a high-end sports car or even a European sedan. If you are dealing with a luxury automobile expect to pay 50 to 100 percent more than a typical car.

Finally, remember to include the various odds and ends you will need such as plugs, wires, caps, air filters, fuel filters, hoses, lines, engine mounts, oil filter and the various fluids your new engine will need. While none of these items are super expensive, they all add up.

The best advice is to shop around and read reviews. Consider hiring a mechanic before starting the process so they can help you determine the best engine for your needs. They may also be able to help you secure an engine and do an inspection when it arrives.

A bit of careful planning will ensure that you find an engine that fits both your budget and your vehicle.