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How Much Does it Cost to Rebuild an Engine?

how much does it cost to rebuild an engine

You’ve been in denial about it for a while, your car is slowly falling apart. You may experience overheating, stalling, leaks, and strange noises coming from the vehicle that you have relied upon for years. Your mechanic may have told you that the car’s days are numbered, but you did not want to listen. Although it is possible to become attached to a car, there comes a point where it only makes sense to get rid of it. If you are looking to replace or rebuild the engine of an old vehicle, you can expect to pay anywhere from $2500 to $4000. If you don’t want to rebuild the engine yourself, you should be prepared to pay about $50 to $100 per hour for labor.

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How to Know when the Old Engine has to Be Rebuilt

In addition to stalling out in traffic and leaking fluid, there are a few telltale indications of an engine that is about to die.

The Car Won’t Start

If the car simply won’t turn over, the first thing you want to do is calm down and check the battery. Make sure that all of the wires in the engine are properly attached. Loose wiring can cause many an engine problem.


Make sure there is nothing wrong with the starter motor. The starter motor is a simple apparatus that carries a tiny gear wheel that attaches to a large gear ring that sits around the rim of the engine’s flywheel. It costs around $350 for parts and labor if you should need to replace it.


If the battery is working and there is nothing wrong with the starter motor, your car probably has a serious problem.

Exhaust Leaks:

If a dark cloud of smoke follows you where ever you drive, the pipes themselves may be damaged or the engine’s seals may be falling apart. Loose seals can often cause the oil in a car to burn too hot. Those seals may be located at the bottom of the engine and the engine might need to be removed in order to replace those seals.

You Hear a Knocking When the Car Starts

If your car knocks and clatters when you start it, it normally means that the pistons in the cylinders are loose and moving around a lot. The only way to fix this is to have the engine rebuilt piston by piston.

A Broken Timing Belt

A timing belt is part of the internal combustion engine. The device contemporizes the rotation of the crankshaft and the camshaft. This causes the valves of the engine to open and close when they are supposed to. When the timing belt breaks it can destroy the interworkings of an engine. Replacing the belt requires a good deal of labor.

An Oil Leak With Metal in it

It is never a good sign if your car is leaking any fluid. If your car is leaking oil you have a major problem such as deteriorated engine gaskets, a damaged oil pan or worn-out connections. If the puddle of oil has metal in it, it may mean that oil has gotten into the combustion chamber.


Before you pay to have an engine replaced, you must ask yourself if that particular car is really worth it. Does that car have sentimental value or is it considered a classic that is worth revamping?


You also may want to learn a bit about the different kinds of car engines and the advantage and drawbacks of them each.

Inline Engine

Inline engines are used in most contemporary vehicles. The cylinders are arranged in a straight line and they are always facing upwards, making them very easy to build. You will find them in small cars, such as hatchbacks. They come in four and six-cylinder models.

Problems with the Inline

Although economical, inlines are longer and taller than other types of engines. This kind of engine is in need of a heavy block. When a car with an inline reaches a high speed, the combination of a heavy engine in a small space can cause the car to vibrate. The vibration can cause damage to the engine’s parts over the course of time.



Straight Engine

In a straight engine, the cylinders are set up in even rows from front to back. They are used in luxury cars and they come in both 4 and 6 cylinder designs. The simplicity of its design makes it a very popular engine. Straight engines are known for the smoothness and balance of their rides. Four-cylinder straight engines can have a problem with balance and damage caused by vibrations, but the six-cylinder engines do not have this issue.


V Engine

The cylinders in this kind of engine are arranged in a V shape and each cylinder faces outwards. It is considered high performance because you can fit a six-cylinder engine into a small car. V engines are small and lightweight. So long as they are balanced correctly, they can be very efficient in terms of performance and gas mileage.


Problems With V Engines

Unfortunately, getting work done on a V engine can be very expensive. It may even be hard to find a properly trained mechanic. If the cylinders are misaligned, you can be in for a noisy and bumpy ride. Over time, a lack of balance can put pressure on certain parts of the engine and this can damage it.

Boxer Engines

In a Boxer engine, the cylinders are arranged horizontally.  The pistons move left and right rather than up and down. The design makes cars with boxer engines easier to handle. They are known for their distinctively quiet sound. You will only find a boxer in a Porsche or a Subaru.


Problems with a Boxer Engine

Boxer engines are very large and they can be hard to work on. cylinder heads can get pushed against the walls of the engine bay. This can make it hard to change spark plugs and do other simple things.

W Engine

The design is comprised of two V engines that are joined at the bass. The arrangement of the engines forms a W. These engines are used in Volkswagens. They have the same issues that V engines have. Their cylinders must be installed perfectly or the engine will become damaged over time. It can also be difficult to find a mechanic to work on your car.


Cost of Rebuilding and Engine

The cost of rebuilding an engine will depend on the kind of automobile you have, its year, and the method you chose to take care of the labor.


Sometimes the engine may be falling apart simply because it needs new bearings or new seals.  Parts such as these are not expensive, and it may sound like a simple job. Unfortunately, there is nothing simple about it because they must remove and then replace the engine to get the work done. This is part of the reason rebuilding an engine is so expensive.


The more intrinsic the work is, the more money you can expect to pay. For example, if all the pistons need to be replaced, it is going to take a mechanic a long time to do the work.


Some car parts can also be very expensive. If a car’s transmission needs to be replaced, the transmission itself can cost you over $1000.


Not only do you need an experienced mechanic to do the work. You need a mechanic who is certified in the type of engine that you have.


Selecting a Mechanic

If you decide that your car is worth saving, you want to make sure to find a qualified mechanic. There are a few different options for finding someone to work on your vehicle.


Go to a Dealership

Getting your vehicle serviced in a dealership is always the most expensive option. However, if you are committed to having the engine rebuilt, the dealership will employ mechanics who are experts in your particular kind of automobile.  They will normally have a flat rate for their services. If it takes 10 hours to rebuild your engine, it will cost the same as if it only took eight hours. The dealership is likely to have the necessary parts available.

Finding an Autobody Shop

Independent body shops tend to offer better prices and more personalized services. A Consumer Reports study found that drivers greatly preferred to go to an independent autobody shop than the dealership.


When you go to an autobody shop, you will get to meet one on one with the mechanic who will work with you. If you do your research, you may be able to find a mechanic who has worked for a dealership or manufacturer.


AAA has a list of approved mechanics that you can choose from. You can also look at online reviews, but those can be unreliable. Recommendations from personal friends are also a good way to find a mechanic. Do not be shy about asking the mechanic a lot of questions including whether or not they guarantee their work.


Independent Mechanics

If you are feeling broke and brave, you can look at Craigslist or a similar site and try to find an independent contractor to work on your car. Independent mechanics generally work from home and it is very unlikely that they will have the necessary equipment to rebuild an engine. You may save money in the short term, but if they do a bad job it will be hard to get your money back or sue them.


Engine Replacement

Sometimes rebuilding an engine is impossible. There are some things that can happen to an engine that will render it beyond repair.


If there is a hole in the engine block of a car, you are almost certain to have to replace it. Such holes occur when a part breaks in the crankcase. The crankcase is where oil is stored. The force of the part breaking often sends the rod through the block, creating a hole and a leak. It would take extensive work to fix such a hole and the repairs often will not hold.


If you have driven a vehicle for a long time without giving it the repairs it needs, the engine will eventually become so damaged that it is not worth rebuilding. Chances are, several parts will need to be replaced.  The cost of replacing multiple parts along with labor is certain to exceed the cost of buying a new car.


What to do with Your Old Car

You have a  few options for getting rid of your old vehicle. You can trade it into the dealership from which you buy your new car. However, you are unlikely to save any money by doing this. Dealerships will give you a great trade-in price for your auto, then they will tag the amount of money they gave your right back onto the final price of your new vehicle.


You could donate the vehicle to a charity. Some trade schools take donations of junk vehicles that they can use to train students. Charities will sell the vehicle for scrap and use the money for their operations. You will be able to write the amount of the contribution off on your taxes. Some charities may pay for towing and others may not.


Sell The Clunker to Us

Cash Cars Buyer can give you the very best price. We have an easy system for buying your vehicle and towing it away.


All you have to do is fill out our online form. We will just need to know your name, email address, and phone number. You must provide the make and model of your vehicle as well as the year and VIN number. We primarily look for automobiles that are under 16 years old.


We will call you back right away with an offer. If you accept our offer, we will arrange for pick up. Our friendly staff member will perform a quick inspection of your car, pay you in cash and tow the auto away.


It can be hard to say goodbye to your old friend, but the money we give you can go towards a fabulous new ride, so contact us today.








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