How Much Does an Engine Swap Cost?

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There are many factors to consider when calculating the cost of an engine swap. But as a broad estimate, an engine swap, on average, can cost between $1,500 to $4,000. However, for a high-performance engine, it can cost more or less around $9,000. Similar to exchanging the heart of a person, an engine swap expense will be different for every vehicle.  To realize more of the ballpark of what you would be looking at in terms of pay, we will discuss different types of engines and other factors that affect the pay. We will also discuss things to consider when deciding to swap your engine.

Is an Engine Swap Worth it? / Should I get an Engine Swap?

An engine swap, otherwise known as an engine replacement, is essentially removing the current engine and replacing it with a new engine. In this process, other adjustments are usually made to ensure the engine will be compatible with the rest of the vehicle. The reason why anyone would swap their vehicle’s engine is to change the performance of their vehicle. Normally, it is to enhance performance. Whether the current engine needs a repair or you just want more power, you can keep the same vehicle by swapping the engine.

Before diving into the process, there are things you should understand and prepare for such as its effects on auto coverage or the types of engines you should swap with, and what precautions are necessary to ensure a successful procedure.

Reasons for an Engine Replacement

If your vehicle seems to be malfunctioning to the point of no return due to a cracked block or high mileage wear and tear, as previously mentioned, going through with an engine swap won’t cost you an entire car. Being the heart of the car, swapping the engine can let your car drive like new. You can swap the engine for a similar or even a smaller, more efficient engine with little changes to the rest of your vehicle.

When trying to maintain your vehicle, older engines may need spare parts that are difficult, near impossible to find. Replacing an outdated engine can allow maintenance to be easier and cheaper in the long run.

You can swap your engine for higher performance or just for practicality. If your vehicle is struggling uphill and you don’t want to invest in a new, more powerful car, whether for financial reasons or sentimental reasons, rather than selling your car, you can keep the car but just swap the engine with a more powerful engine.

Engine replacement benefits can include more power, easier to find parts, may save you money, allow you to keep the same car, and make your car more reliable.

Engine Swap Expenses

Know what an engine swap can cost you before jumping all in. This process is not the same for every car. It is a difficult process. Many things can go wrong and create a difficult situation. Professionals will still do research, planning and spend a lot of time under the hood.

This process can damage your newly bought engine or may result in total car failure if done incorrectly. After just mounting and fitting the engine into the car properly, connecting the engine to the transmission, electrical, and other parts correctly is another vital task that can get quite complicated. If you are changing your engine to a different type of engine, I would highly recommend placing this process in the hands of a reputable professional or at least research how others did their engine swap on the same make and model of vehicle and engine.

Engine Compatibility

Make sure your new engine will be compatible. There is not much to change if you are just swapping your engine for a like-for-like basis. But for a completely different engine, there are many questions to ensure compatibility.

  • Weight – How much heavier will the new engine be? Will the vehicle be structurally sound with the added weight or is there a chance the engine will drop as you drive off the lot?
  • Dimensions – Will your new engine fit in your vehicle flush? Will there be rearranging of parts or downsizing other parts in order to fit the new engine?
  • Electrical – What is connected to the ECU (Electronic control unit) and the engine? Will the wiring harness need to be replaced? Will the ECU needs to be replaced?
  • Cooling – With more power, comes more heat. Do you have the right system to ensure your new engine will not overheat?
  • Transmission and Axle – How much horsepower are you adding? Will your transmission and axle be able to handle the added torque?
  • Emissions – If you are swapping to a diesel engine, there are extra rules and regulations depending on what state you are registered in. Will they pass?

Engine Swap Cost Breakdown: Part or Complete?

Short block

The bottom end of a vehicle engine, including the engine block, crankshaft, cam pistons, and connecting rods. Packaging may sometimes include camshafts and timing belts. This is the cheapest of the engine selection as this provides the least parts. Additional purchases may be necessary to complete your project.

The market price value for a 2010 BMW 335i short block is $4,960.74

A 2010 Toyota Corolla short block will cost $2,216.60

If you are not looking to change the cylinder head and intake manifold, you may choose to swap the short block. Be sure to have the cylinder heads resurfaced to ensure your used cylinder heads will properly seal when installed onto your new short block. Resurfacing cylinder heads can cost around $300 to $600.

Long block

An almost complete engine that includes the cylinder heads, camshaft, and valve-train along with the short block components. Packaging may include an oil pan and valve covers. With no extensive customization, there will be fewer additional purchases needed.

Continuing with the same car models for comparison, a new 2010 BMW 335i long block market value is listed at $10.534.72

A new 2010 Toyota Corolla long block goes for $5,951.23 (the camshaft and valve-train listed as $3,261.67 and the cylinder head at $472.96)

Complete Engine

As it sounds, the whole of the engine (“turn-key” or crate engine). On top of the components in a long block, a throttle pedal, spark plugs, airflow sensors, and other parts are included. While choosing a complete engine, there are still options to choose from in terms of the brand, the different features, and technical specifications that will affect the price of the engine swap.

Purchasing a new engine from the car manufacturer or automotive machine shop can cost around $4,000 for a 4-cylinder, $5,500 for a v6, and $7,000 for a v8. These figures will vary based on the complexity of the engine and the brand. Performance engines will be in the higher range while a domestic economy engine can be closer to $3,000.

For lower-priced engines, you can purchase through an independent shop or dealer with an extended warranty coverage. You can also opt for used/remanufactured engines that can go for a fraction of the price. Getting a warranty for these products may relieve you in the case things go south.

Engine Swap Cost Breakdown

Labor costs are determined based on the mechanic’s experience, the shop’s reputation, how long the process will take, and how difficult the process is. As previously mentioned, economy cars are easier to modify versus sporty or luxurious cars. Local mechanics can charge anywhere around $50 to $100 per hour. A simple engine replacement can take 20 hours to finish if done perfectly. However, because this is a difficult process, most professional mechanics can take 100+ hours, especially for an engine swap that demands creativity and lots of adjustments (blog.protectmycar.com). With these numbers, you can calculate the labor costs to be between $500 to $10,000.

Scenario: Engine swap like-for-like

2010 Toyota Corolla short block: $2,216.60

Cylinder heads resurfacing: $300

Labor: $500

Total: $3,016.60

Scenario: Engine swap higher performance

2010 BMW 335i long block: $10.534.72

Labor: $10,000

Total: $20,534.72

As previously mentioned, an engine swap cost will range between $1,500 to $4,000 but for high performance, the price can go beyond $9,000. Bear in mind, this is the cost for a one-and-done situation. If a mishap occurs and you do not get a warranty for the new engine, you will be back on square one, and probably not ready to dish out another thousand dollars. Be sure to do the planning and preparations necessary to cover all aspects.

Engine Swap Coverage

If you are going to modify your vehicle, it is best to let the auto coverage providers know. Without the proper preparations, your insurance will not reimburse you for all your parts or even void your insurance policy for undisclosed modifications. However, if you do let them know, depending on what type of engine you swap out to, it can change your premium.

An engine swap may cost you a higher premium if you are swapping it to a larger engine. Any high-performance modification will increase your insurance premium. Fitting a turbo engine can result in the number one spike for premium cost with a 132% increase. If you are replacing your engine with a smaller engine, it may lower your premium. Going with the pattern, if you swap the engine with a similar or identical engine, it may not change your premium at all.

When you go through the process of replacing your engine, keep documentation of receipts and photos. Letting your auto coverage provider know of the modifications will ensure continued coverage.

If you have a factory/manufacturer’s warranty, chances are they will not cover the new engine just because their main concern is coverage for their own manufactured parts. If you have an extended auto warranty with the engine being part of the service contract, you must let them know. If replacing the engine is within warranty terms, it may just be covered.

However, if there is nothing wrong with the existing engine and it’s only for enhancing performance, terms will have to be reevaluated for the new engine to be covered. Third-party extended auto warranty providers may be flexible in readjusting your vehicle service contract to include the new modification. However, they may need to approve of the new engine.

Engine Swap Cost FAQs

How does an engine swap affect a vehicle’s value?

Inserting a new, lower mileage engine can increase your vehicle’s value. If you are starting with a vehicle that doesn’t work, an engine swap can revitalize the car and increase its value on the mere fact that it is a working car. However, if you have a classic car that has a high markup on originality, swapping the engine might just lower the vehicle’s value.

Does replacing an engine reset mileage?

Although the new engine may have less mileage on it, the odometer is reading on mileage for the overall vehicle. It does not reset the odometer.

Can I put any type of engine in any type of car?

For the most part, yes, however the less compatible the engine is to the car, the more customizations you would have to do for it to be compatible with the car. The engine should communicate properly through the wires with the electrical system of the car, be structurally sound, and have a compatible cooling system and drivetrain.

Can you swap a v6 for a v8?

Yes. There are kits you can find that may help with this process.

Do engine swaps affect insurance?

It may. Any modification for high performance will increase premiums. However if you are just swapping like-for-like and there’s not much difference except more reliability, you can expect no change or possibly a lower premium given the insurance company’s approval of the new engine.

How long does it take to swap an engine?

This process is adjustable based on the vehicle and engine. The time it takes to swap an engine may be 20 hours or more.

How much is labor for an engine swap?

The cost of labor of an engine swap can range between $50 to $100 per hour.

How to tell if someone did an engine swap?

The fool proof way to know if an engine was swapped is to compare the serial number between the vehicle’s documents and the number on the engine.

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