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If your engine has suddenly failed, or it just has hundreds of thousands of miles on it and it needs to be replaced, should you repair it or purchase a remanufactured or rebuilt engine? Let look at your options.

First of all you need to find out how much your vehicle is worth in it's current condition, at it's current mileage. You can check Kelly Blue Book online and get a very close idea of what your vehicle is worth in good working order. If the current value of the car with the cost of repairing or replacing the engine tacked on, is way more than it's worth, you should probably start looking for a new ride unless you are attached to it, or it's a classic that will be worth more as time goes on.

Let's now assume that buying a new or used vehicle is out of the question, whether due to budget constraints or because you love your car. We can now take a look at the possibility of having your engine repaired or replaced.

Get estimates for parts and labor for repairing and replacing your engine from a professional repair shop like Mr Mechanic Auto Repair. Make sure estimates are complete at out the door prices. This means it includes all the parts you're going to need or want to replace while the mechanic is doing the job. This would include a new oil pump, water pump, thermostat, belts, hoses, fluids, tune up parts, gaskets and seals, filters and possibly even a clutch if you car has a manual transmission.

Before you decide to repair your engine, you need to find out what exactly failed without incurring a huge cost to diagnose that. Usually a trained mechanic can listen to the engine turn over, or check for particulates in the oil, or oil mixing with coolant to figure our what has failed. Fixing it can become very expensive with machine shop and parts costs. If the engine block is damaged, or has a whole in it, it's not repairable. You would need to purchase a used engine just to start repairing it. Also if you opted for a remanufactured or rebuilt engine, they require an engine core with a good block. You would have an engine core expense added to you costs. If your engine block is in good shape, and it just had a lot of miles on it and became weak, the cylinders will probably need to be bored out and the cylinder heads will need to be rebuilt by a machinist. The camshaft, exhaust valves, and pistons may need to be replaced just due to high mileage as well. These repairs take time, and time is money. Since you're paying the technicians flat hourly rate and machine shop costs, the job will likely be expensive, probably too expensive to justify unless your car is a classic muscle car or collectable.

What are your other options?

Let's assume that the cost of repairing your engine is way to high due to the worn parts or damaged block. Now you will need a replacement engine. It may be tempting to purchase a used assembly to save some costs. If this is the way you want to repair your vehicle, make sure it has low miles, and comes with a warranty that also covers labor if something is wrong with it. When it's fired up in your car and they discover a rod knock, low oil pressure or a host of other possible problems, the engine is going to have to come back out. If the company you purchased the used engine from doesn't pay labor, and just replaces the bad used engine, you will have to foot the bill for doing the engine replacement twice. OUCH! Good quality used engine assemblies are available for reputable salvage yards and come with a warranty. Remember, you still want to freshen the unit up with a new timing belt (if needed), water pump, oil pump, belts, hoses, gaskets, seals, tune up parts, filters, etc. Don't forget these costs when calculating your total expenses.

You can sometimes purchase new engine assemblies from the dealership when they are available. Chevrolet is good at selling what they call "crate motors" with horsepower ratings from mild to WILD! You may want to check with the manufacturer of your vehicle to see if a new engine assembly is available, and what the costs and warranties are.

Rebuild engines are not the same as remanufactured engines. Don't let anybody tell you they are. Cheap rebuilds are disassembled and most parts are measured for minimum specifications, and only very worn or broken parts are replaced. The engine is cleaned and reassembled and sold like that. Remanufactured engines are built with all new parts, pistons, rods, bearings, valves, rocker arms camshaft, crankshaft, etc. This is by far the best way to go if you're considering a rebuilt or remanufactured engine. Again, make sure you read the warranty carefully and understand it completely. Some companies want you to prove all of your oil changes were done on time with the correct quality filters, and other spiffy rules. Remanufactured engines are usually less costly than a new engine, but not always. Make sure to check for a new engine first.

So, which way should you go. If money is a concern, a good remanufactured engine is the way to go. If you're driving a classic Camero or Mustang, and your wallet is fat, you may want to purchase a crate motor from the factory to keep the car's value high by using new factory parts purchased from the manufacturer.

Check out this very cool animation by Ford Motor Co. showing how a 4 cylinder engine is assembled and operates. Amazing to say the least.