When the time comes for a new engine, the big question is, "Is it worth investing that much money in my vehicle, or should I buy a new one?"
There is no right or wrong answer, and each situation should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
For example, if you have a 15-year-old car that is worth $2500, has 180,000 miles on it, has some body rust, needs some other repairs or maintenance, and is in generally poor condition, it probably does not make sense to invest a few thousand dollars in a new engine for that vehicle. On the other hand, if you have an 8-year-old car that’s in relatively good condition, then it makes sense to take a closer look at a remanufactured engine.
Before going any further, consider the honest answers to the following two questions.
. Does the vehicle suit your needs?
Sometimes a vehicle no longer fits the purpose for which it was first purchased. Sometimes situations arise that make your current vehicle incompatible with what you need it to do. For example, you own a 2-seat sports car and you just got married and are expecting to start a family. Is the 2-seater going to be practical for a family of three or more? Another case: you just moved from an apartment to a new single family home and need a truck instead of your current car. If your current vehicle passes this test, then let’s move to question #2.
2. If the engine hadn’t failed, would you keep the vehicle for 2 or more years?
On average, the "break even" point on an investment in an engine is about 2 years. In other words, you have to drive the vehicle for 2 years to recoup the cost of the engine. Every day you drive the vehicle beyond the 2-year point, you’re ahead of the game, financially speaking. If you wouldn’t keep if for at least 2 years, you’ll probably lose money. On the other hand, if you have a newer vehicle that’s still worth a considerable amount of money, it may still make sense to replace the engine in order to trade it in or sell it. A vehicle that is not in operable condition has very little value as a trade-in or resale.
If at this point it makes sense to consider replacing your engine, there is more you need to know. The options are to rebuild your current engine, replace it with a used one, or install a remanufactured one.
Used engines are a gamble at best.
Most professional shops won’t even consider installing a used engine; the risks are just too great. With a used engine, even if the mileage is reasonably low, you have no idea how the engine was maintained or used. Furthermore, today’s computerized engines are much different than those of 30 or 40 years ago. While it might have worked perfectly well to install a 1965 Chevy small block in a 1969 vehicle, you can’t assume that a 2001 engine will work in a 2000 vehicle.
Computerized engine control systems have software designed for very specific applications, and if things aren’t just right, a real nightmare scenario can ensue. Parts that won’t work right, "Check Engine" lights that won’t go out, stalling or other demons that seem to defy explanation. Furthermore, while most used engines are warranted for some short period of time by the junkyard selling it, they do not pay labor to replace a defective used engine. If the engine fails and the junkyard won’t pay labor, would you expect the shop to do it for nothing? Would you be willing to pay?
Rebuild Your Engine
While rebuilding the engine in your car can result in an excellent repair, there can be some serious drawbacks.
One is warranty. If you drive your car a thousand miles away on vacation and the engine has a problem, who’s going to fix it? Towing it back to the shop that rebuilt it is not feasible. Will that shop pay another shop to make the needed repairs? A few will, most won’t. Ask.
A big drawback to rebuilding your engine is time.
The engine must be removed, disassembled, machine work performed, parts purchased, reassembled, and installed back in the vehicle. This could require several weeks, where installing a remanufactured engine takes 2 or 3 days. Of course, if you have a modified performance engine, custom rebuilding is your only choice.
The third drawback is the inability to quote an exact price before the job is begun.
There is no way to estimate the extent of the damage until the engine is completely disassembled, cleaned and inspected. Unexpected costs can arise due to problems like cracked castings, crankshafts that can’t be repaired or cylinders that need to be sleeved.
The reality is that rebuilding your engine could result in more time, more money and less warranty.
For most people, installing a remanufactured engine is the best choice.
The big concern here is the quality of the remanufactured engine and the quality of the shop doing the installation. The quality of remanufactured engines varies greatly.
This is one time that you really don’t want an inferior product.