When you are looking to either purchase a vehicle or maintain your vehicle for future use, you will need to make sure that you have an engine that is in good working condition and will stay that way through the life of the vehicle. Sometimes, for vehicles with no other major issues and a faltering engine, an engine replacement or rebuild may be necessary.
If you purchase a car early in its life, the single best thing you can do to maintain your engine’s lifespan is to make sure that you stick to regularly scheduled maintenance. Unfortunately, engines can often start to show signs of wear within months of the car coming off of the lot. While there are certain parts of the engine that need regular maintenance, such as oil changes and even spark plug replacements, there are certain signs that you may need to replace or build your engine altogether. These include:
- Excessive oil consumption relative to what is normal for the engine
- Excessive amounts of white smoke in the exhaust
- Metal shavings present in engine oil (due to severely worn bearings)
- Abrasive knocking sounds coming from the engine
Excessive wear on the bearings may be the single largest reason why you may need an engine rebuild. Bearings are designed to ideally last the life of the engine, but given that they support the moving parts of the engine, their lifespan can be cut short significantly if the vehicle is constantly run on low oil levels or if the oil is not changed on the recommended basis.
If you do decide that you will need an engine rebuild in lieu of a replacement, you will need to go one of two routes to accomplish this: either hire a mechanic to rebuild the engine for you, and go it yourself. The latter option requires a significant amount of technical experience and involves ordering an engine rebuild kit tailored to your specific engine. The former often involves high labor costs, and you are typically reliant on what the mechanic may have available unless you wish to wait a significant amount of time for your rebuild.
The actual cost
It is worth noting that the actual cost of rebuilding or replacing the engine is going to depend on the engine you are looking to rebuild or replace. Particularly if this is for a performance vehicle, a rebuild kit will often need to be custom and can become expensive, although this is typically cheaper than replacing the engine altogether. A total engine replacement can cost up to 20% of the original cost of the vehicle, and often more once labor is factored in.
Overall, there are many factors to evaluate if you find yourself in a situation where you may need to replace or rebuild your engine. Maintaining your engine from the outset is the best way to go, but if you purchase an older vehicle or find yourself in this situation, make sure to research costs for your specific engine and make the most effective choice that will keep you on the road while being kind to your pocketbook.