As an engine accumulates miles, its internals wear out, leading to a loss of compression, excessive oil consumption, and horsepower loss.
Eventually, a high mileage engine will suffer catastrophic damage such as a spun bearing or cracked piston ring and must be swapped with a new engine leading us to ask how much does an engine swap cost?
The engine swap cost depends on a number of factors including if the replacement is a high-performance engine, a crate engine, or a used engine. However, the engine swap cost to replace a typical late model car's old engine with the exact same new engine will be $2,000-$10,000 (averaging $4,000 for parts and $1,350-$2,025 for labor).
Engine swaps using the same engine are less labor intensive as you don't need to perform modifications to the vehicle, which can save you a lot of money.
Factors like location, new/used parts, labor rates, and car make/model, among others, can affect the engine swap cost as well.
The most inexpensive engine swap will be replacing the car's original engine with the exact same used complete engine from the wrecking yard or a used engine dealer.
Keep reading to learn more about how engine swap prices differ among different cars and how you can cut costs in some areas.
We'll also be comparing the costs of swapping and rebuilding engines, engine swap compatibility, and the cost of swapping an engine compared to the cost of a new car. Let's get into it!
How Much Does It Cost To Swap An Engine?
Engine swaps are not cheap, regardless of where you live.
You can break down the average cost to swap an engine into two main parts - the cost of the replacement engine, associated components, and labor cost.
Generally, the cost to swap a vehicle's engine is around several thousand dollars (including parts and labor).
Specifically, prices start at $2,000 if swapping in a used engine on an economy car to well over $10,000 for more complex engine swaps.
If you are a skilled mechanic or are competent enough to swap your engine DIY-style, you can save significant money by doing the work yourself.
Factors Affecting The Price Of Your Engine Swap?
There are a lot of factors that will ultimately cause the price of an engine swap job to fluctuate, including:
Location-based labor rates: labor costs will be less in a small town in the middle of Idaho than in downtown New York
How long it takes the mechanic to complete the swap: replacing the vehicle's engine with a different engine than the original engine will add extra costs.
DIY vs. professional labor: if you can manage the swap cost yourself you will save money
New vs. used engine: A new crate complete engine is significantly more expensive than a used complete engine
Diesel engine vs. gas engine: typically a diesel engine swap is more expensive than a gas engine swap
Vehicle manufacturer: the cost to swap an engine will be be more expensive for a Porsche 911 than a Toyota Corolla
Short block engine vs. long block engine: a short block engine (which includes fewer components) is cheaper than a long block engine (which is a complete engine including parts like the cylinder heads, camshaft, and valve train)
Stock engine vs. different engine: if you replace the engine with the exact same used or remanufactured engine you will save money on things like engine bay modifications, wiring harness crossovers, and ECUs
The type of replacement engine: A used engine with 100,000 miles on it will be much less expensive than a new high-performance engine
Wiring and vehicle electronics compatibility: it will cost you more if it's a different engine going in what came out for the proper harnesses etc.
One of the main factors that affect the cost of an engine swap is the type of engine you're replacing your old one with.
Take a look at some example costs of replacement engines for various popular vehicle models:
Engine replacement cost comparison across various models
|2015 Toyota Corolla
$4,025.99 (including core)
|2018 Ford F-150
|2010 Honda CR-V
|2016 Subaru Outback
$5,660.99 (including core)
As you can see, prices for used engines are way more affordable than brand new engines.
It also makes a pretty big difference how old/new your vehicle model is and the power behind it (i.e. pickup truck engines are more expensive usually).
And, of course, if you have a luxury vehicle or muscle car, the engine swap job is going to be far more expensive than it would be for a standard sedan, for example.
A vehicle's transmission is separate from the engine and you may or may not have to replace it when you swap your engine.
A benefit of replacing the car's existing engine with an exact match is you don't have to buy a new transmission or an adapter kit to attach to the existing transmission.
But if you have to replace both, your costs are going to increase overall.
The average cost to replace a vehicle's transmission is about $5,155.00
This estimate includes the average cost of parts ($4,295.00) and the average cost of replacement labor ($860.00).
Note that the cost of transmission parts can vary if they are new vs. used.
Additionally, you may pay more for transmission replacement labor if you live in an area where auto labor is in high demand.
Wiring And Vehicle's Electronics Compatibility
In short, your vehicle's wiring system can greatly affect the price you pay for an engine replacement.
Again, if you replace your engine with an exact match, you don't have to worry about wiring and ECU compatibility, saving you time and money.
If the rewiring job is fairly complex, you will need a highly skilled and in-demand mechanic that may charge higher hourly rates for their work.
Furthermore, complex wiring will likely lead to a swap that takes more hours to complete, leading to increased prices overall.
Labor Costs To Swap An Engine?
To understand the full scope of cost, you have to remember that labor costs are separate from the cost of parts.
As we have mentioned multiple times, you will save on hours of labor by replacing the engine with an exact match, thereby saving some serious money.
According to AAA, the average cost of auto labor is around $135 per hour.
These hourly auto labor rates can be as low as $50 in some places, and upwards of $200 in other places.
At this hourly rate, note that an engine swap can take anywhere from 10-15 hours to complete.
Knowing this, we can estimate that the cost of labor for an engine swap generally costs between $1,350-$2,025 on average.
It's also worth noting that labor rates vary depending on where you live and the skill level of the mechanic.
Occasionally, an engine swap job will reveal issues with other related parts that need to be repaired or replaced.
These expenses can interfere with your budget.
Additionally, you may realize that your newer, more powerful engine is not compatible with current car components such as rear-ends and transmissions.
In that case, you would need to replace those other components to be compatible with the new engine, which costs more.
Other Engine Swap Considerations
There are many things to consider when swapping an engine.
For example, certain vehicles are only equipped to house certain kinds of engines with a certain number of cylinders.
V6 To V8
You may be wondering whether you can successfully swap a V6 engine for a new V8 engine.
It's certainly possible to swap a V6 engine for a V8 engine in your car.
But costs are going to increase. A V6 engine bay will often times require significant modifications to accommodate a larger V8 engine.
A new V8 engine swap is going to cost you around $5,000 on average, and labor costs get tacked on top of that estimate.
Can A V6 Fit In A 4 Cylinder Car?
Similar to a V6 to a V8 swap, a 4-cylinder to V6 swap will require modifications to the engine bay.
If the vehicle model had a factory V6 option and the 4-cylinder option, you are in luck because you will need to modify much less, and factory parts for the swap should be much more available.
Factory parts will save you money over having to get custom parts fabricated.
Do Rebuilt Engines Last Long?
Rebuilt engines have different lifespans based on the quality of mechanical work, quality of parts used, and whether it was a top-down rebuild or just a few parts.
Generally, though, a rebuilt engine(remanufactured engine) should last for many years of standard driving, or up to 150,000 miles on the road.
An engine assembled with quality components by a skilled mechanic should last as long as a new engine from the factory.
Is It Better To Replace An Engine Or Buy A New Car?
Does the car have catastrophic engine problems?
When deciding whether to buy a new car or to replace the car's engine, there are several things to consider.
The first thing to consider is how much mileage is on the car now? If the car already has 150,000 or more miles, will it be worth replacing the engine when you'll most likely run into other mechanical issues with the car sooner than later?
If the car already has high mileage, you can save money by putting a high mileage replacement engine in the car that only has about as much life left in it as the rest of the car.
Another thing to consider is that a new engine doesn't necessarily increase the vehicle's resale value by the same amount it will cost to replace the faulty engine.
You may be better off selling the vehicle and purchasing a new or used vehicle in good running condition.
According to KBB, the average new car price in 2022 reaches above and beyond $40k.
On the other hand, even the most expensive and high-quality engine swaps cost around $10,000.
There's no doubt about it - if your car is generally still in good shape and not in need of other repairs, an engine swap is cheaper.
Positives Of An Engine Swap
There is a lot to benefit from an engine swap, including the following:
Longevity: replacing or rebuilding your engine can greatly extend the lifespan of your vehicle and save you money long-term
Upgrades: if you upgrade with a more powerful engine, you'll have a more powerful car on your hands that accelerates faster and hauls more
Value: a brand new engine ups the resale value of your car in the case that you want to exchange it or sell it in the future
Insurance costs: by swapping your engine instead of buying a new car, you avoid increased insurance premiums
Monthly costs: swapping an engine is a one-time cost, whereas buying a new car can take years of monthly payments to pay off
Cons Of An Engine Swap
On the other hand, there are some downsides to engine swaps, including:
Upfront cost: this replacement job is a large, upfront cost that is hard for most to afford without a payment plan
Vehicle factors: costs greatly increase if you have a larger, more powerful vehicle model
DIY issues: this is a very taxing and difficult job to do on your own at home
Damage: bad engine swap jobs (which can happen with inexperienced mechanics) can damage your vehicle long-term
Old car issues: a swap is not worth the cost if your car has nearly reached its expiry date anyway
Engine Swap Vs. Engine Rebuild
Practically speaking, if your daily driver needs a new engine, swapping the engine out with a different engine is preferable to rebuilding your existing faulty engine.
If you elect to have your engine rebuilt, your vehicle will be in the shop for at least a week or two, while it should only take a day or so to swap your engine with another.
Is It Cheaper To Rebuild Or Replace An Engine?
Whether it's cheaper to rebuild an existing faulty engine or replace an engine depends on a few factors.
First, it will most likely be cheaper if you do the rebuild yourself; however, this is only a job for professional mechanics or very advanced do-it-yourselfers.
It takes about 20 hours to rebuild an engine, so if a shop charges you $100 an hour, you'll save $2000 doing it yourself.
Another problem may be that the faulty original engine block may have a serious defect like a crack that you only find after tearing the engine completely apart. In which case, you'll need to buy another block adding an unexpected expense to the rebuild cost.
Hopefully, our guide has helped to clear up any confusion regarding the question how much does an engine swap cost?
An engine swap (replacement) job generally costs between $2,000-$10,000 depending on the cost of labor, location, parts quality, mechanic skill, and other factors.
And transmission replacement, which sometimes accompanies an engine swap, costs $5,155 on average.
It's more expensive to replace a car engine than to rebuild it, but you may have unexpected costs, making an engine swap more economical in the end.
Make sure that you assess the general health and age of your car before deciding if an engine swap is the most cost-effective option for you.