Cars are real lifesavers. It gets you to places conveniently. For some it is just something you put some gas on and drive but there is more to it than that. Where does that gas go? It is for the engine, where all the magic happens. A car relies on its engine for everything. Simply put, the engine is the heart of your car. When it fails, it can be a major pain in the neck so it is very important to know the engine price for cars.
Common Symptoms your engine is failing:
- Fluid found on the ground underneath your parked car,
- A smoking tailpipe, and/or
- Squeaking, knocking, whining, ticking or even buzzing noises from your car
Knowing how much a replacement engine will cost determines your next action plan. Whether you are going to replace your engine with a new, used or rebuilt car engine. While others opt to replace the vehicle altogether because at times merely replacing the engine might cost more than it's worth.
How much does a car engine cost?
The engine price for cars depends on three key factors: complexity of the engine involved, the size and the rate at the shop you have chosen to do the work and whether you plan to replace it with an engine that is used, rebuilt or a new engine.
Factors That Affect Engine Price For Cars
- Price for a New Engine
New engines come at around $4,000 for a 4-cylinder, $5,500 for a V6 and for a V8 at about $7,000. The cost increases, again, based on engine complexity and car brand. And it also follows that you’ll be paying more for a performance engine to be installed in an imported luxury car than a stock engine to be installed on a domestic economy car.
- Used Engine Costs
The two types of used engines are rebuilt engines and salvaged engines. Re-built engines as the name suggests are re-built by skilled technicians with new engine bearings, piston rings, gaskets and seals. The engine block, cylinder head and camshafts however rarely need to be replaced, and are instead only inspected, cleaned and reused when it comes to rebuilt engines.
Salvaged engines, on the other hand, are used original engines that no longer have use for their original applications. This can be due to accidents, theft or government-mandated limits. The latter can be true in countries like Japan where cars are mandated to only stay on the road for 7-8 years and they have to be replaced.
In that case the vehicles are disassembled and parts, including the engine are sold to shops in the United States. The mileage numbers are included on a supporting document but unscrupulous re-sellers will not include the documents so that they can charge more for the engine despite the mileage.
But for those who wish to save they still usually go for a used car engine because sometimes it can be bought for as little as $400 to $1000 dollars. But again, engine price for cars varies with the age of the vehicle and used engine accumulated miles.
You will also have to account the shipping costs that will depend on where the engine is to be shipped from as freight charges will not be included in the price. The shop will pass that cost along to you so that is more cost out of your pocket.
- Rebuilt Engine Cost
Rebuilding an engine brings it back to the manufacturer’s operating standard. Although the engine is not completely new, you can be assured that the worn moving parts have been replaced as well as all the seals and gaskets.
You can be confident that the engine will run when properly installed. Expect for an extended lifespan as well. It often comes with a stronger warranty than what you can expect to get from a used-parts dealer.
Rebuilt engines because of these advantages come with a much higher engine price when compared to a used 4-cylinder engine. It will cost in the $2,500 range, which is still substantially lower when compared to a brand-new engine.
- Labor Cost on replacing an engine
So how does the labor cost add up to the engine price for cars? The main risk you have to take when you purchase a used engine is the investment you will have to shell out for labor. A junkyard or other used-parts supplier often provides a short-duration warranty on the engine itself, but that will not include the labor done by cost for installation.
Also if the newly installed used engine happens to not run, that does not mean you’re off the hook for paying for the mechanic, unless of course the failure is due to the mechanic’s error. You will also have to pay for the extra billable hours required to get the engine running. To lower the risk of a non functioning used engine, you can pay more for a rebuilt one.
- Labor Cost Could Cost As Much as the Engine Itself
Other than the engine price for cars, you should also be prepared for the labor price. When all is said and done labor cost can easily go up as much as the engine itself, most especially if you ask for professional assistance. While a basic garage may charge from $50 to $75 an hour, a specialist can easily quadruple that amount.
When it comes to how much labor hours it would probably take. You can expect for it to be at least 5 to 20 hours for a typical engine replacement on a newer vehicle. Most of the labor hours will be spent on transferring your old engine parts to the new block. So you could potentially lose money by going with the short- or long-block.
If your specialist’s time is expensive, it’s especially best to pay up front. There are different factors you're going to have to weigh but on the average you can expect to pay as little as $1,000 for a drop-in replacement of a complete engine by a simple corner garage, up to more than $4,000 if you are going to a specialist to disassemble an old engine, and then assemble your new engine from the short-block before installing it.
- Other Costs When Replacing an Engine
Besides the labor cost, replacing an engine also requires additional costs for parts that bolt to an engine. Examples of these are fuel pump, water pump, belts, hoses, intake and exhaust manifolds, tensioners and pulleys. Labor for replacing these parts will often exceed the cost of the part significantly.
Engine replacement, however, will however require removal and reinstallation of these parts, so additional labor charges for these additional parts will balance out to zero because it is already included in the labor cost for replacing the engine. So take advantage of this and ask your mechanic about the ancillary parts to consider for replacement.
Other costs will also include shop materials your new engine will need like oil, coolant Freon and all the other fluids that will keep it running smoothly.
As you can see, the engine price for cars can be very expensive when you add other things that will be needed to make the car running again.
Is it worth replacing an engine?
Taking into account all the mentioned variables of the engine price for cars so far, the real question is not so much, “How much does an engine cost?” But the real question is “When is it worth investing in a new or replacement engine?” Is it a better choice to replace the vehicle altogether?
Replacing the engine vs. Replacing the Car
The answer to that very important question is not the same for everyone. So far, we’ve already discussed the different factors that can influence the engine price for cars. To answer the question, consider the following:
First you must ask yourself if you will be able to handle the huge budget required to make the repair? But then again, replacing the vehicle altogether may be more expensive in the long run.
In some cases, engine replacement is a viable alternative to acquiring a new vehicle as engine replacement can be done for a fraction of the cost, and you are also able to avoid taxes, license fees, and insurance expenses needed for a newly incurred vehicle. Not to mention the fact that you may still owe something from the broken vehicle.
In that case the lesser expensive path will be an engine replacement, most especially if the interior and the nonmotor parts of your vehicle are still in good shape.
Also think about the recent investments you’ve had with your car like if new tires were installed within the last year. Assess your car’s overall condition like how is its air conditioning or how is the suspension holding up? And as the catalytic converter will eventually fail as the car ages, consider if you have already replaced it.
To make the right decision of whether or not to buy a new engine, you should consider other factors other than engine price for cars.
Use Kelley Blue Book to find out your car’s value, adding that to what you have already invested in it recently and balancing it out with what maintenance it will be needing in the near future will give you an idea for considering whether or not you should invest in an engine replacement.
No matter how attached you are to your vehicle, there are still instances when merely replacing the engine is not just worth it, most especially when the engine is not the only problem you have when it comes to your vehicle.