Replacing a Car’s Engine: Estimated Cost & Considerations

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The engine is the heart and soul of your vehicle.

It’s not a big secret that a properly functioning engine is vital to keep your car safely on the road.

Having a critical engine failure will ruin your day, week, month, and maybe your entire year.

The only possible solutions are rebuilding the engine, replacing it, or just getting a whole new car. And, unfortunately, all of them are expensive. 

Let’s take a closer look at the cost of replacing an engine, and see if rebuilding or replacing it is really better than buying a new car. 

Should you Replace your Engine or Just Buy a New Car?

Really, it all depends on how much your car is worth, and for this, you’re going to have to do some math.

Most people aren’t replacing an engine on a brand-new car. By the time you need an engine replacement, the value of the car has probably gone down considerably. 

If the engine replacement will cost you as much or more than your car is worth, it might be time to part ways with your vehicle.

If, however, you own a very valuable car and the engine replacement will cost much less than the car is worth, you might want to go for the replacement. 

Before you make the decision, you’ll need two numbers:

  1. The estimated current market value for your vehicle (or how much you could expect to get if you sold it).
  2. The estimated cost of replacing the engine for the vehicle (you’ll need to factor in parts + labor).

Subtract the estimated cost of replacing the engine from the estimated value of your car.

If the number is positive, it may make sense to replace the engine. If the number is negative, buying a new car may be the better financial decision.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Car’s Engine?

An engine replacement can cost anywhere between $3,000 to $6,000, with the average floating right around $4,000. 

Labor is going to be a pretty big portion of the overall cost, as the job isn’t exactly easy.

You can expect to pay about $800 to $2000 (or more) for labor.

IMPORTANT: The need to replace an engine on a relatively new car may be due to an issue that is covered by the car’s warranty. Make sure you check your coverage, as this could potentially save you thousands of dollars. 

Causes for replacing the engine may also be part of a manufacturer’s recall campaign. If you suspect your engine needs to be replaced, be sure to check for any active recalls as well.

Engine Repair vs. Replacement

Replacing an engine or buying a new car aren’t necessarily your only options.

You may also opt to rebuild your engine.

Though this could be a much longer process (think weeks long) than replacing the engine, it can also be significantly cheaper.

The cost of rebuilding an engine is typically around $2,500 to $4,000.

Signs Your Engine Needs to Be Replaced

One of the biggest signs that your engine needs to be replaced is simply that it’s not performing how it used to.

You may be getting less gas mileage, and the engine might have to work much harder to move the car at a fairly modest pace. 

Some other signs your engine needs to be replaced include:

  • The check engine light: While the check engine light is often triggered for issues that have relatively simple fixes, it could also be a sign that something serious is happening with the engine and it just might need to be replaced. 
  • Frequent unusual sounds like knocking and grinding.
  • Excessive exhaust.
  • Oil or coolant leaks.
  • Constant overheating.

These do not mean you need to replace your engine for sure, but they are signs that could indicate that you at least need to have your engine thoroughly inspected. 

In some cases, you may just need to replace a gasket or replace a specific component within the engine.

How Long Will It Take to Replace a Car’s Engine? 

Depending on the car, it will likely take between 8 to 20 hours to replace a car’s engine.

As you might imagine, replacing a car isn’t exactly simple, and most shops don’t just have extra engines hanging around. 

You’re likely going to have to wait for your mechanic to get the new engine and parts before work even begins on the replacement. Don’t expect to be without your car for just a day. 

Engine replacements can take up to a couple weeks or more, depending on the complexity of the vehicle’s design and the workload of the shop.

Does Replacing the Engine Also Reset the Mileage?

Replacing an engine does not reset the mileage on a car.

While the engine is a very significant part of the car, there are so many other components of a car. It’s important to know how many miles any other key components have seen on the road.

Resetting the mileage would not give an accurate reading of how used the car is.

Instead, you can keep a record of when the engine was replaced so that at any point, you can know how many miles are on it. 

Keep in mind that altering an odometer is a federal crime. Learn more about odometer rollback fraud here.