How Much Does It Cost To Rebuild an Engine?

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It happens to the best of us, and usually, at the worst of times, you are just driving, and suddenly there’s a loss of power or a giant plume of smoke from the engine bay or exhaust.

The vehicle doesn’t want to start, and now you are thinking, how much does it cost to rebuild an engine?

Don’t fear; this article will give you the necessary answers about motor failure.

How Much Does It Cost To Rebuild An Engine?

Generally, prices can range from $1,500 to $5,500 for an engine rebuild on a standard passenger car. Sport and supercars are exempt from this since most have astronomically high service and repair costs, and they are the smallest percentage of vehicles on the road.

The price varies widely due to the differences in engines, the way they are produced, the damage, and how easy it is to remove said engine from the vehicle.

A Chevrolet Spark is one of the cheapest cars for a rebuilt engine since it has a small four-cylinder engine, and it is straightforward to remove the engine from the engine bay of the vehicle.

Then on the other side of things is the Mercedes-Benz R-class, where the average quote just to remove the engine is over $1,800. That’s without them having even started working on rebuilding the engine!

So, now you know the general cost of an engine rebuild, there are some more questions you need to ask, like the signs you may need an engine rebuild. 

Let’s look at those next.

how much does it cost to rebuild an engine

What Are The Signs That An Engine Needs To Be Rebuilt?

There are numerous signs ranging from the sudden loss of power to a loud continuous metal grinding noise and vast plumes of smoke coming from the vehicle.

Let’s take the sudden loss of power. This is very hard to diagnose if you don’t have mechanical know-how.

Numerous factors can cause this, from not tightening the battery terminal, running out of fuel due to a bad fuel pump or the timing chain/belt snapping and bending the engine’s valves.

The one sign that a regular person at home can recognize is when the car can still start and drive but burns engine oil or consumes antifreeze.

This can be seen from the exhaust of the car. Burnt oil is a blueish-grey smoke, and water being combusted produces white smoke.

Have a look if the car is leaking oil or antifreeze; if you see puddles, especially oil, it may be a catastrophic engine failure, and the engine needs replacing.

The best practice is whenever something strange happens while driving or a warning light on the dash come on is to take it to a reputable mechanic to diagnose the problem.

Is It Cheaper To Rebuild Or Replace An Engine?

Generally speaking, it can be cheaper to replace the engine for budget-orientated vehicles.

In contrast, for more premium models, an engine rebuild (although time-consuming) can be more affordable, but it all depends on the make, model, and year of the vehicle.

With a budget hatch like the Chevrolet Spark, you can find a brand-new engine for $1,250. Add another $1,000 for labor costs, and replacing an engine is only $750 more than rebuilding the original engine.

On the opposite spectrum is the Mercedes-Benz R-class, where the ‘second-hand’ value of the engine can start at $9,000 on the low end, with new engines closer to $20,000, and that excludes the price of labor. Rebuilding the original engine will only set you back something closer to $8,000, a relative bargain.

Another essential factor to remember is that an engine rebuild seldomly takes only one day to be completed.

In the worst-case scenario, it can even take several weeks or even months if there is a backlog at machine shops. 

If you want your vehicle back as quickly as possible, then an engine replacement is a better option because that should take, at the most, 2-3 days.

New vs. Used Replacement Engines.

There are pros and cons in both new and used engines, and depending on what you want out of the engine, these could sway your decision. 

Let’s start with the used engines.

Used Replacement Engines


  • Cheaper than new engines
  • Already ran in
  • Faster to acquire


  • In some cases unknown history
  • Already ran X amount of miles
  • It might need basic maintenance 
  • In most cases doesn’t have a warranty

New Replacement Engines


  • Factory fresh with 0 miles
  • Comes with a warranty
  • Doesn’t need any initial maintenance


  • Higher prices than used
  • Might take a few days to order

How Much Does It Cost To Replace An Engine?

Labor alone can take 8-15 hours, depending on vehicle and complexity, and labor prices range between $90 to $150 an hour, meaning it will cost between $720 to $2,250 to have an engine replaced (excluding the price of materials, like the engine itself).

As engine prices can differ so vastly, this can at least give you an estimate on how long and what price range the labor would be, once you or the workshop have sourced a motor.

mechanic changing the timing chain tensioner

Final thoughts on rebuilding an engine

It’s inevitable that if you have owned vehicles your entire life it will happen that you need to rebuild or replace your engine.

As you can see, there are many options depending on the model, make, year, and damage that occurred that need to be considered when deciding on rebuilding or replacing a damaged motor.

Hopefully, with this article, you’ve gained a firmer grasp on all the costs involved and what not to worry about when it comes to rebuilding or replacing an engine.


Is it worth rebuilding an old engine?

Yes, if it is saveable. Rebuilding an engine isn’t just cheaper but in many cases more environmentally friendly as there is no need to produce an entirely new engine just because a minor part has failed.
Something to also keep in mind is engine availability and classic value. A vehicle produced in the 50s-’70s is better off having matching numbers (when it has its original engine), as this will keep its resale value higher.
In some cases, cars that were made long ago have no new engine availability, and/or very few used ones are on the market, leaving you with the choice to rebuild or to swap in a newer model engine.

What is the labor cost to rebuild an engine?

The average machine shop labor rate is between $60-$80 an hour and the average time for them to rebuild the engine is 10-20 hours, so the total labor cost of rebuilding an engine is between $600 to $1,600.
Keep in mind that machine shops can have extremely long waiting lists and that is why some jobs can take months to finish. 
And in other cases, you may be lucky and get the engine back in a week.

How long does a rebuilt engine last?

Done correctly a rebuilt engine can last just as long as a new engine. Mechanically the engine is like new, just keep in mind that all the sensors and electronics are reused when rebuilding an engine to keep costs down.
I believe everyone has heard horror stories of engines being rebuilt and breaking again within a short time period.
Taking your vehicle to a reputable mechanic will minimize this risk and help put your mind at ease.

Is a rebuilt engine like new?

Mechanically yes, on the electronic side of things no (unless you specify to replace all electronics).
In most cases, you don’t have to fear reusing the existing electronics. 
If one sensor or ECU (Electronic Control Unit) was at fault, it will be replaced and electronics on vehicles are designed in such a way that if they fail, it won’t cause catastrophic engine failure.