Either you're looking for an engine upgrade to squeeze as much acceleration out of your vehicle or your original engine simply just reached its end of life — whatever your reason is for replacing your engine, you will have to be thinking about the engine swap cost. But more often an engine swap is done for performance and it comes with a price. Prepare to pay between $500 and $1,500 for labor alone, plus anywhere from $500 for a short block to $9,000 for a complete, high-performance engine.
Factors Affecting Engine Swap Cost
Here are some factors that may affect your engine swap cost so you at least know what to expect depending on the make and model of your car, the type of engine you want, and where you intend to have it done:
- Make and Model of your Car
The brand and type of car you choose, such as the engine, will affect the engine swap cost. Because of the ease and quickness of replacement, a basic car with easily found parts will almost certainly be a cost-effective switch. A swap involving an antique or rare car, or even a high-performance sports car, will almost certainly require more delicate or difficult-to-find parts.
- Engine Block Type
Whether you go with a short block, long block, or entire engine is one element that can affect the cost of your engine swap. A short block engine is around one-third the size or number of components required to build a full engine. This contains, among other things, pistons, bearings, connecting rods, and freeze plugs, but you'll need to acquire extra parts. Short block engines are the least expensive option.
Because it has more parts and is more assembled, a long block engine assembly is slightly more expensive. Aside from the parts you could expect provided for short block engines, long block engines also come equipped with camshafts, cylinder heads, and valvetrain components. You'll have to buy the rest, but you won't have to seek for as many parts, so a large block engine is a good option if you don't want to do a lot of customizing.
The most expensive but the most convenient and easy alternative is to get a complete engine, which includes everything you'll need to get started on your engine swap. While the most expensive option, if you're short on time and know exactly what you want in your engine, this is the way to go. Consider the brand, features, and technical specifications of your options in addition to the engine type, as these can all add to the cost of your engine swap.
So consider the engine you want to put under the hood carefully. It's pointless to go overboard here with an engine that has too much power as this will overwhelm the brakes, suspension, and fuel system.
Doing some research is the greatest approach to locate the correct engine. There are numerous resources available online, including numerous manufacturer-specific forums. Even if you think you've found the right engine, double-check everything before making any major purchases or decisions – even if it means paying for a professional's help.
Also If you felt finding an engine was difficult, just wait till you have to put it together. Mounting the engine is one of the more difficult components of engine swapping, but it will be made easier if you start with the appropriate engine. A like-for-like engine swap will be more easier than a non-factory specific choice, as you might imagine. This is because the mountings will be comparable to, if not identical to, the original engine mountings.
The replacement engine should also work with your vehicle's current cooling system and fuel system. These are two of the most important things to look into when choosing an engine, because you'll want to keep original elements like the radiator and fuel tank to save money and prevent the hassle of replacing other vital components.
- Labor Fee
A large portion of the engine swap cost is going to be for the labor fee. A mechanic could charge you as little as $500 or as $100 per hour of labor multiplied by 20 as it could take that long to complete the engine swap.
Again a typical engine swap can take anywhere from 15-20 billable hours to complete. The average hourly wage for a mechanic in the United States is $100. So during your engine swap, you should budget between $1,500 and $2,000 for labor.
Keep in mind, as mentioned earlier, depending on the engine you choose you may need to purchase extra parts to complete the block. And not only that — if any other vehicle components need to be reconditioned or repaired as part of the engine replacement, your actual cost will almost certainly be higher.
When the engine is replaced, for example, you may also need to install an auxiliary cooling system. This helps to minimize overheating and other potentially harmful issues, but it may raise the cost of your swap.
Most engines will also require the installation of new reservoirs, so make sure your car has enough room for them. The reservoirs hold vital fluids for proper engine operation, thus neglecting this step could result in major problems.
Engine Swap Cost: Is it hard to swap an engine?
An engine swap is both straightforward and difficult. It all basically comes down to swapping out a car's original engine for a different one. But the reality is that engine swaps have become more sophisticated and complicated as their popularity has grown.
To begin with, a gasoline or diesel engine can now be replaced with an electric motor. For this purpose, several companies, notably Yamaha, are creating modular “crate” motors. Even if you're merely swapping out a gasoline engine, it's not as simple as removing a few screws.
A whole lot of things, as mentioned, may be involved when doing the engine swap. Welding may be required if the frame needs to be reinforced. An engine hoist is required to remove the old engine and install the new one. And if you are going to have it done for you by a shop, it won't be cheap and expect that engine swap cost to go as triple as higher than you are expecting.
When and if the engine is installed, you'll need to begin the difficult task of connecting the drivetrain and gears. This is where accuracy is crucial, as any errors here could have a significant impact on the entire project.
Custom shafts will be required for most engine swaps, unless you got the engine from a specialist, in which case they should be provided. These aid with the connection of the new engine to the old rear or front-wheel drive system.
To connect the new engine to the existing systems, custom hoses and fuel lines may be required. However, these are usually available alongside replacement engines. Simply ask the dealer what other parts and components are required for the engine to function properly in your vehicle.
Engine Swap Cost: Is it worth it to replace an engine?
There are many reasons why you would want to replace an engine. And when done for performance’s sake. It’s really up to you how much you are willing to pay — as engine swap cost is no joke. But when engine swap is done because your original engine has reached its end then it could be a totally different story.
When your car requires repairs, the last thing you want to hear is that your engine needs to be replaced. Depending on the age of your vehicle, engine replacement may or may not be worth it. On average, a new four-cylinder engine will cost between $4,000 and $5,000. For a V6 or V8 engine, the price may skyrocket. While the replacement may be necessary, there are less expensive alternatives, including low-mileage used engines or rebuilt engines.
The primary risk when buying a used engine is the cost of labor. Although a junkyard or other used-parts seller may provide a limited warranty on the engine, it does not cover the labor performed by the service center installing the engine. If the newly installed engine fails to start, you'll be responsible for the mechanic's time (unless the failure is due to the mechanic's error), as well as the additional billable hours required to get it functioning.
By getting a rebuilt engine, you can reduce your risk. When an engine is rebuilt, the manufacturer's operational standards are restored. That doesn't mean the engine is brand new, but worn moving parts, as well as all seals and gaskets, have been replaced. You may rest assured that the engine will start and function correctly once installed, and that its projected lifespan has been increased. It usually comes with a longer warranty than you'd get from a used-parts store.
This assurance comes at a price. A rebuilt 4-cylinder engine will cost in the $2,500 area, compared to a used 4-cylinder engine that costs $1,000 or less—still a significant discount over a brand-new engine.
Engine Swap Cost: Is it illegal to swap engines?
You might be considering an engine swap because you want more horsepower and speed, or because you need to replace a blown motor. But you have one concern — you just have to ask whether or not swapping engines on your vehicle is illegal.
The answer to this question is yes in many states. Some jurisdictions say yes, but you will have to ask if the engine was available for that year's model of automobile or truck. Some argue that it's fine as long as the engine was available at all during the year. To find out what your state's laws are, contact your state's motor vehicle department. You may find some useful information on the DMV.org website, a non-official government link with generalized information. Links to some state sites can be found here.
When it comes to engine swap requirements in California, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) are the two organizations that set the standards. To summarize, the standard prerequisites for totally swapping an engine into a certain chassis include the engine being the same year or newer than the chassis being changed into, as well as the appropriate emissions equipment.
Engine Swap Cost: Do engine swaps affect insurance?
Any change in your car will almost likely have an impact on your insurance, and different car modifications will tend to increase your premium. A vastly improved car, for example, may significantly boost its worth. A brighter, more attractive car, on the other hand, is more likely to be broken into or stolen. Furthermore, if you drastically improve the car's power and performance, most insurance will consider it a higher accident risk.
Certain alterations, on the other hand, will not have a negative impact on your quote if they are anticipated to reduce the chance of an accident. The best solution is to check your insurance contract to see if you need to tell the company if you make significant changes. There's no reason to notify them and you’re not legally bound if it doesn't say anything.
Taking into account all of the factors discussed thus far, the question “How much does engine swap cost?” essentially implies “When is the investment required to replace an engine the best choice?” That answer falls in a different place for everyone. Can you afford the cash flow required to make the upgrade or repair?
Although replacing the car is more expensive in the long run, it allows you to finance the purchase and may result in a more reliable vehicle—though this is not a guarantee. If you still owe money on the broken car, taking the cheapest route becomes your best option, and a $2,500 replacement makes sense.
Also when it comes to engine swap for the sake of performance, it may sound like a good idea but keep in mind the scope of the project and how difficult finding the suitable alternative engine solution can be. Because, in reality, replacing an engine is not only expensive but is also a massive undertaking that needs a significant amount of time, planning, and skill. At the end of the day, it’s really up to you if all the hassle and the money is worth what you want to happen for your car.