Engine Rebuild Cost – How Much Does It Cost to Rebuild an Engine?

Sure, an engine rebuild is cheaper than replacing an engine. Still, rebuilding an engine is a very costly project that should make you think first before doing it. Engine rebuild cost – how much does it cost to rebuild an engine?

The cost of a typical engine rebuild can range from $2,500 to $4,000. That includes costs for parts and labor. An engine rebuild may consist of simple tasks like replacing seals and bearings. Others may require taking the engine out, fixing the damaged parts, and then re-installing it.

You can also buy a rebuilt engine for about the same cost. If you have an old car with a standard water-cooled four-cylinder engine, you may be able to restore the engine to near its original specs for about $400 to $500. The cost will be around $500 to $600 if it’s a six-cylinder engine.

Read on to learn more about the cost of rebuilding an automotive engine, what it will take if it is worth it, and other things you need to know to determine if it’s what you want.

Engine Rebuild Cost

Engine Rebuild Cost

How much does it cost to rebuild an engine? The usual cost of rebuilding an engine will range from $2,500 to $4,000, including parts and labor.

Engine rebuilding can be as simple as replacing the seals and bearings. In almost all engine rebuild jobs, you need to take the engine out, perform the required parts repairs and replacements, and then re-installing it back to its place in the engine bay.

Buy or Order a Rebuilt Engine

You can also buy or order a rebuilt engine for about the same cost. If you have an older car with a four-cylinder, water-cooled engine, you may be able to rebuild it at only around $400 to $500. It would be a bit higher if your old car had a six-cylinder engine. It will cost about $500 to $600 to rebuild it.

Reassess Whether Rebuilding Will Increase the Car’s Value

The thing you need to ask yourself is: is it worth it? If you have a 20-year old car with a market value of only $2,000, it may not be worth spending $2,500 to rebuild its engine. So, you have to crunch your numbers to see if the engine rebuild will increase the value of your car. If not, then you should think twice before doing it.

The decision will also depend on what you want. Do you want to rebuild the engine of your old car, or do you want to get a whole new engine? When you rebuild the engine, you will pay for the parts replacement and the cost of labor.

Engine Overhaul Is Cheaper Than Buying a New Engine

Naturally, an engine overhaul is considerably cheaper than buying a new engine. There is also the option to rebuild the engine to repair some of its issues. The cost of that is also a lot cheaper than the cost of a new engine. You may be able to save half of the cost of a new one by just rebuilding the old one.

Rebuilding Extends the Engine’s Service Life

You should also understand that it will not be like a new engine if you rebuild your engine. However, rebuilding it will extend its service life. While we are on this topic, you should also know that there is such a thing as a re-manufactured engine.

This could be one of your options. A mechanic will add new parts to the re-manufactured engine, with a fully overhauled engine block to its original factory specs.

Rebuild an Engine Two to Three Times

In theory, you can rebuild an engine indefinitely. However, the safest number of times you can overhaul or rebuild an engine in real life is two to three times only. This is what experts in the automotive industry recommend. Additionally, they suggest that you should only allow engine overhauls on non-commercial vehicles.

Engine Rebuilding – Is It Worth It?

engine rebuild

Lagging Engine Performance

Only you can finally say if rebuilding the engine of your car is worth it or not. However, it will be helpful to consider what experts say about the cost of rebuilding engines.

If your car is already 20 years old and its engine is already lagging in performance, it is ripe for an overhaul. That is, if you love your old car and the option of buying a new car is not on your plate.

Buy a New Engine If Rebuilding Cost Is Higher Than the Car’s Current Market Value

But let’s say the current market value of your 20-year old car is only $2,000 and the cheapest cost of rebuilding it is $2,500. Your course of action is really obvious, right? If this is your case, it’s better to buy a new engine or a new car than to rebuild the engine of your old car.

Unless, in your mind, your old car holds tremendous sentimental value. In such a case, rebuilding the engine of your old car is worth it, especially if your budget can afford it.

But all things considered, if the cost of rebuilding the engine is higher than the current market value of your car, it is not very difficult to see that it is unwise for you to rebuild that engine. Unless you consider your old car an heirloom piece of machinery, you are better off junking it.

Perhaps this is what most people are facing when they take their cars for routine maintenance. They are disappointed when the mechanics advise them of an engine rebuild. If you notice that your car is losing its power and is not performing like it used to, you might be in for this kind of surprise.

So, you see the picture, why do some people have to face the tricky question: rebuild or not. Engine failures happen because of many reasons. But whatever the reason, you can rebuild or repair your car’s engine.

It just takes a lot of money to do so. And that’s where the problem usually lies. If you have lots of money, there’s no problem. But if you don’t, that’s when you need to do a lot of thinking.

Why Engines Need Rebuilding

Two Reasons Why You Need to Rebuild Engines

There are two simple and basic reasons why car engines need rebuilding:

  • Pistons are already weak, and
  • Bearings are already worn out.

Rotating parts of the engine can move easily because of the bearings that they are mounted to.

Usually, you can use a motor or engine oil to lubricate these bearings. Experts designed and manufactured these bearings such that they can last several thousand miles. However, they can’t last forever, and in time, they wear out.

Poor Handling and Irregular Maintenance

It also depends on how you handle your car. If you are careful, observe proper driving practices, and perform regular maintenance on your car, its engine will last long. However, poor handling and irregular maintenance shorten the car’s life, especially its engine.

Improper Oil Changes

If you haven’t properly scheduled and implemented oil changes, the wear and tear of the engine parts will significantly accelerate. Bearings will wear out. They will create sharp knocks on the engine, which will cause it to fail inevitably.

Not Properly Oiled Piston Rings

If the piston rings are not well-oiled, they will wear out easily. They will not create the proper seal during the burning of the fuel inside the combustion chamber. This will lead to the condition that they call ‘blow-by.’ It will happen when the oil in the crankcase leaks past the piston rings and burns inside the cylinder with the fuel mixture.

If, while you are driving and you notice black smoke entering the cabin, below are the possible reasons:

  • Engine’s seal is breaking down, or
  • Damaged engine cylinders.

Again, how much does the engine rebuild cost? Rebuilding an engine is less expensive than having your engine replaced. Usually, an engine rebuild will cost between $2,500 to $4,000. An engine rebuild will involve seal and bearing replacement or taking the engine out and fixing damaged parts.

Signs That You Need to Rebuild the Engine

engine rebuild cost estimate

You need to know the symptoms of an engine that needs to be rebuilt. Look at the following signs before your engine collapses:

  1. Bad oil leaks
  2. Engine head gasket leaks
  3. Burning oil
  4. Engine misfire
  5. Pistons of the engine slapping inside the engine cylinders
  6. The timing chain or belt broke down. If the engine on your car is of the interference style, there will be some damage to its internal parts.
  7. Engine is knocking and rattling
  8. The engine won’t turn over. It may have seized.
  9. Engine clatters when you accelerate. This happens because there is too much play of the pistons as they move inside the cylinders.

But since this is a very costly job, you need to ask the mechanic if the engine needs rebuilding. They should first be sure of all the possible symptoms and then fix them. The point is: the mechanic should eliminate any probable cause of the engine problem.

But if they say they need to rebuild the engine to solve the problem, you have no choice but to do what they say. And this is where your due diligence comes in. You have to grapple with the question: is it worth it?

But be aware of mechanics that will say you need an engine rebuild when you don’t. Rebuild engine cost is not a light matter. So, it is also wise to get a second opinion unless you trust your mechanic.

Signs That You Need to Replace the Engine

There comes the point in the life of a car engine when it has spent all of its juices, and you have to let it go. It is better to replace it than to rebuild it. So, what are the signs that your engine has already reached this stage?

  1. You have been driving your old car for several thousand miles and you have been putting up with its lack of performance for so long.
  2. For the first time, you see a huge amount of oil under your car. There are also small chunks of metal mixed with the oil.
  3. Your car suddenly stops with a loud noise. The engine may have seized and all its pistons are stuck and cannot move inside the cylinders.
  4. Upon engine inspection, a hole was found on its side. This engine condition can’t be repaired. You need a new engine block.
  5. Your old car has no engine rebuild kit available in the market. Hopefully, there are used engines of its size that you can buy.
  6. If the cost of the engine rebuild is equal to the cost of buying a new one.

Rebuilt Engines Are Not Good As New

Don’t expect too much from your rebuilt engine. Rebuilding does not restore its original performance. Somehow, it no longer has its original specs. So, it can no longer deliver the same performance that it gave you when you got it fresh from the dealer.

However, engine rebuilders will claim that the engines they rebuilt were sometimes even better than new ones. I guess the only way you can prove that is by trying their engine rebuilding services. Are you prepared to do that?

Conclusion: Engine Rebuild Cost

A typical engine rebuild can cost from $2,500 to $4,000, depending on the engine’s repairs. Parts and labor are usually included in the total cost. The task could be as simple as replacing the seals or the bearings.

If the engine is that old, it may need to be removed from the chassis, repairing the damaged parts and then re-installing it. Before starting this project, you need to determine if the engine rebuild will be worth your time, money, and effort.

Related reading:

Ford Engine Firing Order [302, 5.4, 4.6 390, 5.0, 351]

Timing Chain vs Timing Belt – What Are the Differences?

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Interference Engine List