How Much Does a Complete Engine Rebuild Cost and Take?

A complete engine rebuild is a major undertaking. If your engine problem is given a diagnosis that requires an engine rebuild or replacement, you’re probably wondering which choice is cheaper. The answer depends on the type of vehicle and options available. Sometimes you are better off installing an already rebuilt engine into your car instead of a new one or rebuilding your old one.

People rebuild engines for many reasons. Some people love the challenge and rebuild old car engines as a hobby. Others do it as a business and resell the engines to consumers to install in their vehicles. A final reason to rebuild your car engine is to keep the car you love up and running.

How much does a complete engine rebuild cost and take? Regardless of the reason for rebuilding a car engine, it takes a lot of time and money to accomplish the feat. A complete engine rebuild could cost as much as $3000-$4000. The whole rebuild kit -- the fluids, gaskets, seals, and other parts -- adds to the price very fast.

Engine rebuilding can be done in 1-3 weeks. A lot of time spent waiting for mechanic work to be accomplished is waiting for parts to arrive. The amount of time billed to the job will probably range from 10-25 hours. With parts and labor combined, you will be looking at a decent mechanic bill.

Replacing the Car Fluids

Why is the cost so high for an engine rebuild? An engine rebuild takes a lot of different components to complete. A portion of the cost is going to be the engine fluids. Fluids such as the engine oil and coolant will need to be added in order to make the engine run properly. These fluids can cost anywhere from $100-$300. The amount of fluid needed and quality or brand of fluid all factor into the cost of this vital part of an engine rebuild.

Worn Out Gaskets and Seals

During an engine rebuild, you also have to replace all of the gaskets, seals, and o-rings in your engine. There are exhaust gaskets between the engine and the exhaust areas of the vehicle. Seals between fluid locations wear out during use and need to be replaced to complete the job. The last thing you want is to forget a gasket and have to go back in when your oil leaks.

It is surprising how many gaskets an engine requires. There can be 20-50 tiny little gaskets and o-rings that must be installed. This can easily add up to a couple of hundred dollars. Every small part adds to the total car repair costs.

Necessary Parts

For a complete engine rebuild, you replace multiple parts that attach directly to the engine. You need a new water pump, plugs, wires, timing belt or chain, bearings,  and sometimes more to completely rebuild your car engine. These parts cost more than the fluids or seals. A water pump can cost $50-$200, and an oil pump can range from $50-500. Each vehicle is different, but when you add up all of the necessary parts to finish a complete engine rebuild, it gets expensive.

Labor

The most expensive part of rebuilding an engine is labor. There is labor involved in every aspect of a complete engine rebuild. If you are unable to do it yourself, a mechanic spends hours preparing the engine block for removal. Then they lift the engine out of the vehicle and spend more hours cleaning and preparing the engine. Finally, the mechanic replaces the parts, gaskets, and seals.

If the number of o-rings in an engine is astonishing, the amount of nuts and bolts is overwhelming. There are dozens upon dozens of bolts that they will remove throughout the process. They track the bolts and reinstall them in their proper place. This is enough to cause a headache!

After they replace and clean the parts, they reinstall the engine into the car. They add fluids and tighten the final bolts. Fingers are crossed as the vehicle is fired up with its brand-new (rebuilt) engine.

Depending on the engine, it may take 20 hours to complete the rebuild. At $100 an hour, expect the auto repair shop to bill you $2000 for the labor costs alone. Rebuilding an engine takes special skills, so it will probably be much higher than $100 an hour. It’s easy to see how fast this adds up!

Different Makes and Models

There are often cases in which rebuilding is cheaper than purchasing a new engine. Engine replacement costs may reach as high as $3000-$7000 but could be a little quicker short term. The type of vehicle you drive will determine which option is cheaper between a replacement or rebuild.

An engine rebuild cost and time vary across different makes and models. A small Toyota four-cylinder engine may only take 10-15 hours, while a more complex engine may take 25-30. Some engines require a longer process in the removal stage. A big, diesel engine may be a lot more costly when it comes to parts.

Rebuilding or replacing your engine is not a small decision. It should be based on adequate research and price quotes specific to your make and model. You have many different options depending on what your car’s engine needs.

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