Replacing an engine sounds like an incredibly expensive thing to do, but when you compare the cost of repowering or replacing an engine to the cost of purchasing a new vehicle, the replacement cost becomes much more palatable, quickly. This is a sizeable repair that will take time and may be more than the vehicle is technically worth.
Considering repairing an engine is a big undertaking, there are few cheap adjustments that can be made to this critical part of your vehicle’s operating system. The economic equation for vehicles outside of 12 years old doesn’t make sense when it comes to replacing the engine – unless the vehicle is a classic or has special value, it should probably be traded.
To make sure you’re getting a good quality engine and that its worth the invest keep a few things in mind:
Motor mounts: Check motor mounts to ensure they are still adequate for installation to support the engine and are in good overall shape. There's no point in installing a new engine if you are just going to let it fail with faulty motor mounts.
Engine quality: There are a wide range of engine qualities, and there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to engine replacement. While you may want to replace your engine with exactly the same engine that was previously in your vehicle, you can always make a different choice: a hotter camshaft, oversized pistons, a performance intake manifold, or other upgrades.
Budget: Look for a “crate” engine instead of a custom-built engine. Crate engines are a ready-to-run option that generally cost up to 20% less than a custom engine built for your vehicle.
Upgrading: If you want a little upgrade, go for a stage 1 upgrade, which generally includes more compression, bigger valves, a hotter cam and could add around 70 hp to the stock engine. Keep in mind that any upgrades you make to the engine will require subsequent upgrades, or at least a solid review, of other parts such as the transmission, clutch, or radiator.
Upgrading or replacing your engine can be a good investment in either a newer vehicle that you still owe a number of payments on, or when you have a classic car.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Buy a Good Quality Engine and was authored by Valerie Johnston.