Replacing an engine? Understand your options...


Anytime a motorist is facing the decision of how to best acquire a replacement engine, they are likely coming from a position of disappointment and frustration due to mounting auto repair bills.

Never the less, it is important to consider all of the options available not just in terms of current cost, but also in terms of future cost, as some options will be cheaper up front but may cost more money on the back end.

There are four main options in replacing an engine: new, used, remanufactured and rebuilt engines.

  • New engines are exactly what they sound like. The manufacturer makes a new engine with all new parts from the ground up. As a result, this is the most reliable of the four options but also the most expensive. In many cases, customers would be better off getting a brand new car than getting a new engine put into an old car, but this depends on the age and value of the vehicle.

  • Used engines are also pretty simple to understand, as they are simply used engines pulled out of other cars that are no longer being used for whatever reason. After an inspection to confirm that they are still working, they’re put into the customer’s car.They are the least reliable option, as you never know exactly what you’ll get. It’s the cheapest option up front, though.

  • Rebuilt engines are basically repaired engines that are restored only to the degree to which they failed. In other words, only damaged parts are replaced and the rest of the engine is left intact. In some cases, this could be better than a used engine if the damage is specific and the engine is relatively new. In other cases, it’s a lot like just fixing a broken used engine. Sometimes this can be cheaper than a used engine, but the labor costs will often drive the cost higher.

  • A remanufactured engine is an engine that is not only rebuilt in terms of broken parts, but in which the entire engine must test up to a certain level. As a result, it’s a balance option. It’s not the most expensive, nor is it the most reliable, but it’s not on the low end of the spectrum either.

As you consider all of the replacement engine options you should think about how long you plan to keep your current car and how much risk you’re willing to take in order to save money now.