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What Does An Engine Rebuild Cost? // [8 Signs To Look For]

What Does An Engine Rebuild Cost? // [8 Signs To Look For]

Engine rebuild – two words that immediately strike fear into the heart of any car owner. If you own a car, you probably know that an engine rebuild is one of the biggest repairs that you might ever have to make on your vehicle. And they’re not cheap! Rebuilds require hours of labor by a mechanic with the expertise to do the job, so it’s going to cost. But just how much will it cost and how do you know if you really need this service performed? We’ll answer both of those questions here.

How Much Does It Cost To Rebuild An Engine?

Let’s go ahead and get the bad news over with first. The amount that this repair costs you depends on the specific vehicle that you drive, the specific engine in the vehicle, and the amount of damage to the engine. On average, a rebuild will cost you $1,700 – $5,500 in parts and labor costs. While that seems like a lot, it’s not as expensive as a complete engine replacement. Total replacement can cost over $10,000 in some cases!

An engine rebuild requires the purchase of new parts like gaskets, piston rings, and others that may be damaged. These are generally purchased all at once as part of a rebuild kit. It also requires the mechanic to resurface the cylinder heads or engine block in some cases. It takes many hours for the disassembly and reassembly of the engine, and everything must be done exactly correct. Given the time and expertise required, much of the cost associated with this job is due to the labor involved. Maybe you’re wondering how to rebuild an engine and whether you can just do this yourself. This is not a job that you want to try and tackle on your own unless you are an experienced mechanic with the proper tools!

Engine Failure Symptoms To Look Out For

Just because your car is running a little rough does not mean that you’re going to need a motor rebuild. Maybe someone has mentioned that possibility to you, and you want to confirm whether they’re just blowing smoke (perhaps like your car). We’re not fortune tellers, but there are some things that you can watch for to determine whether a rebuild is likely in your future. Some of these symptoms are more telltale signs than others, but if you notice any of them, it’s definitely something that you should get checked out and keep an eye on.

1. ‘Check Engine’ Light Turns On

Many people choose to ignore warning lights on their dash, but this is not a good idea! That light comes on for a reason. It is your car’s way of signaling to you that there is a problem. Left unchecked, that problem can get worse and cause additional damage. A check engine light could be an early warning sign of a possible rebuild.

If your car starts to misfire or ping, this can trip the check engine light. These symptoms could be associated with larger issues inside your engine. However, don’t fret too soon! This light could be a simple problem as well like an engine misfire due to a bad spark plug or even bad gas. The best thing to do is have an auto repair shop read the trouble codes from your car’s computer to determine the cause of the light.

2. Engine Knocking/Rattling While Idle

This is not a good sign, and it often points to big problems. The knocking or rattling sound that you hear with the car idling is likely the pistons rattling around on the crankshaft as it turns. When the bearings start to go bad, the pistons no longer fit tightly and there is some play in the system. As the crankshaft turns, you can hear the rattling created by the loose piston connections.

This sound could also point to a broken timing belt or timing chain – and neither of those is good either! If you have a broken part that is causing a rattling sound, you need to have it checked immediately to avoid further damage!

3. Engine Oil Mixing With Coolant

If you notice that your engine oil is milky and frothy or that your coolant is dark and murky, you’ve got a problem! This could be a sign of a blown head gasket or even a cracked engine block. Depending on the severity of the problem, you may or may not need a complete overhaul, but the problem needs to be fixed right away. If you don’t fix it, you could end up needing a new water pump and radiator along with the new engine parts.

4. Rough Acceleration

This sign doesn’t always point to a bad engine, although it can in some cases. It could be something as simple as dirty or clogged fuel injectors, although it might point to bigger problems. If your engine has lost compression, then it will really begin to affect your engine performance. This becomes even more obvious on high performance engines that normally run with high compression ratios. If you notice that your car doesn’t want to accelerate when you press the gas pedal, then you have an issue that needs to be repaired. On cars with a manual transmission, this might also signal that it’s time for a clutch replacement.

5. Engine Doesn’t Turn Over

This is a surefire sign of a problem. If you just hear a clicking sound when you try to start your car, it could mean that your engine is locked up. The internal parts of the engine have become seized due to excessive heat or damage and will no longer move inside the block. If this is the case, it will need to be completely overhauled.

This sign could be an issue with your starter motor or battery as well, so have a mechanic check your vehicle before you decide to sell it for junk. It might still be worth more than just a scrap car price. It could turn out to be a fairly simple fix after all. If the car turns over but just won’t start, then the issue is probably not as bad.

6. Car Goes Into “Limp Mode”

If your car enters limp mode, then the computer has sensed that there is a major problem with your vehicle. Most luxury cars have this feature, and this mode greatly reduces the performance of your engine to help prevent additional damage. This usually signals pretty significant engine problems, so head on down to the dealership to have things checked out.

7. Broken Timing Belt/Chain

If your timing belt breaks, severe damage can be done to the internal parts of your engine. The pistons and valves may actually slap together because the crankshaft and camshaft are no longer working together in tandem. They are typically kept in sync by the timing belt, so when it breaks, they no longer are perfectly aligned. This can lead to extensive damage of the valves, pistons, cylinder heads, and cylinder walls. It is much more cost effective to perform preventative maintenance and have your timing belt replaced at your manufacturer’s recommended interval instead of having it break and causing damage to your engine. When this happens, you typically need new pistons, new valves, and possibly even a completely new engine.

8. Thick White Smoke Coming From The Exhaust

Thick white smoke from the exhaust means that coolant is entering the combustion chamber. This is not a good sign, and neither is blue smoke coming from the exhaust. Blue smoke means that oil is getting into the combustion chamber, and neither of these scenarios ends well. At a minimum, you’re probably looking at a new head gasket or oil pump. However, you might need a total engine rebuild if too much damage has occurred.

How Much Does A New Engine Cost?

Unfortunately, it’s not cheap! A new engine costs even more than a rebuilt engine. Smaller engines like a four-cylinder are less expensive than larger eight-cylinder engines. On average, a new engine is going to cost you $4,000 – $8,500 including parts and labor. If your engine needs to be replaced, then you might consider purchasing a used engine instead. This might save you a little money, and some mechanics keep used engines around the shop to use when needed. Some people sell their car for parts for this very reason!

Although this is an expensive repair, most automotive repair shops include a warranty with their work. So, if you get a new engine, you might not have to worry about paying for any additional repairs for the next 3 years or so. A rebuilt engine typically includes a warranty of a year or less. Plus, rebuilding your engine doesn’t mean that your car will have a rebuilt vehicle title, so your car will still have plenty of value after the engine is fixed.

Is There A Better Alternative To Rebuilding An Engine?

There is a better alternative to an expensive engine repair! Instead of spending all that money on your car, why not sell your car now for some extra cash that you can use for a new car. Auto Wranglers will make you an instant cash offer to purchase your vehicle – even if it doesn’t run! You’ll have your offer in about 90 seconds, and the whole process only takes a day or two. We buy cars across the whole country, and we always provide free towing and pickup. It’s quick and easy to get a quote, so go ahead and get yours today!


Don’t let the words engine rebuild scare you too much if you notice any of the problems mentioned above. Some of those symptoms could point to smaller, less serious problems. However, if you do end up needing a rebuild, you do have other options. You could avoid paying for that expensive repair by selling your car to Auto Wranglers. We’ll pay you cash for it within just a day or two so that you can buy yourself a new vehicle that doesn’t have engine problems. Get your free quote to get started today.