Whether your car engine has worn out or you are looking for a performance upgrade, a swap might be in order. What good can a motor replacement do and what does the typical engine swap cost? After all, it’s important to budget ahead of time for this automotive job.
In this guide, we cover the approximate cost of swapping an engine. We also look at what factors affect this cost and discuss the parts required. Furthermore, we show you the meaning of an engine swap and answer a few of your top questions.
How Much Does It Cost To Swap An Engine?
The total cost of an engine swap could be between $2,500 and $10,000. However, if you are putting in a high-performance engine or working on a luxury car, the cost could reach as much as $20,000. Prices can go up even more if a new transmission is involved in the swap.
To figure out the cost, several factors must be examined. Aside from the cost of the new engine, there’s also the labor charge and additional parts required for the installation.
Factors Affecting The Engine Swap Cost
It’s not as simple as figuring out how much a new engine costs. To get the total price for the engine swap, you must put together several factors.
Here are a few of the top considerations you must think about.
1. Engine Cost
The largest factor is going to be the charge for the motor itself. New engines can cost between $500 and $15,000, on average.
There are multiple types of engines to choose from. If you plan to swap out the engine with a rebuilt motor or one that is repaired, your cost won’t be as high as if you choose to purchase a new motor. In fact, you can find used motors for as low as $500, but there may not be any guarantees with these engines.
If you want something new, you may still be able to save by choosing a stock engine. This would be a direct replacement for what the car came with from the factory. Otherwise, if you want a high-performance engine upgrade, your cost is going to be much higher. The benefit of this option is an increase in power and handling.
READ MORE: Car Engine Replacement Cost
2. Labor Costs
Unless you have a full-service garage, you will probably need to pay for someone to install the engine. Motor swaps require a lot of work with specialized tools and you need a fair amount of expertise.
For this reason, you probably need to think about how much the labor might cost. This expense isn’t as easy to estimate. In most cases, you can expect to spend $2,000 or more just because of the complexity of the job.
However, labor rates vary greatly based on where you live. The type of vehicle you drive also plays a part in the labor charges.
3. Transmission Cost
With your engine swap, you may also require a new transmission. If you are swapping the engine because it has gone bad and you plan to use a direct replacement, a new transmission might not be necessary.
On the other hand, if you are upgrading the engine, the old transmission might not be compatible. In this case, you will need to also upgrade the tranny. You can choose transmissions with a vast selection of costs and quality as well. For a cheap, used transmission, you may only spend $250, while a new performance-oriented transmission could cost $2,500 or more.
4. Swap Kit And Additional Parts Cost
There are more parts to swap than just the engine. You will have to factor in all of the parts costs with your engine swap. Depending on what’s needed, this aspect could add $100 to $5,000 to your total cost. Among these parts, you can also choose budget-friendly components or high-performance elements.
Evaluate whether you need a new exhaust, fuel pump, or gaskets. There will also be necessary hardware and wiring that’s required. If you choose a stock engine, you may be able to use some of the existing parts over again and save some money.
5. Vehicle Type
The final consideration is what type of vehicle you drive. If you have a small, compact vehicle, the engine won’t be as expensive as if you were driving a heavy-duty truck. Additionally, if you have a popular vehicle, such as a Toyota Corolla, it will be a lot easier to get a new engine.
If you drive a luxury or sports car, the cost is going to be much higher. Not only will the engine itself cost more, but you may also need a special technician to perform the labor. On top of that, any extra parts required are going to also have a premium price tag.
What Is An Engine Swap?
During an engine swap, you take out the old car engine and replace it with a new one. The engine needs to be new to your car but isn’t necessarily a brand-new model. You can perform an engine swap with a used or rebuilt motor too.
Engine swaps are done for multiple reasons. If your motor is damaged and isn’t worth repairing, you may prefer to put something new in. You can also upgrade the performance of an engine by putting something more powerful under the hood. This engine swap may also require a new transmission with the upgrade.
Some people also prefer to upgrade the engine if towing and hauling are important. If you drive a truck, you may prefer increasing the capability with a better engine.
Parts Required In An Engine Swap
Before you begin the engine swap, you want to make sure you have all of the necessary parts. Some of these might seem obvious, but there are several you may not be thinking about.
Here are the basics of what’s needed, but more could be added depending on what you hope to accomplish.
The first you need for the engine swap is the motor. Engines come in a variety of sizes and styles, so you want to make sure you choose one that’s compatible with your vehicle. If the car currently has a four-cylinder engine, you will probably replace it with something similar. If you prefer to upgrade, you will need to make other modifications to the vehicle.
With your engine swap, you also have a couple of considerations to keep in mind. You can swap it out with a used or rebuilt motor. Otherwise, you might prefer a brand-new engine, which is especially helpful if you are looking to upgrade performance.
READ MORE: Engine Rebuild Cost
To swap out the engine with one exactly like it, there would be no reason to put a new transmission in. As long as the transmission is still in good working condition, you can expect the new motor to be compatible.
Otherwise, if you plan to upgrade the engine for performance, you may need to put a new tranny in as well. Check to see what’s needed before you get started because a new transmission can drastically affect your total cost.
The engine connects to the essential parts of the car through a system of wiring. When you perform an engine swap, you want to inspect all of the existing wires.
Some of them may be reusable, but others will need to be replaced. If you notice any frayed or worn wiring, it’s best to replace it during the swap.
4. Swap Kit
Instead of purchasing all of the individual components needed to provide the swap, you can buy a kit to make it easier. A typical engine swap kit may contain the headers, oil pan and motor mounts.
Depending on what kit you choose, some will also include the transmission cross members. As with a new engine, you can choose swap kits of varying quality.
5. Software Programming
The cost for the swap won’t just involve different parts but also some tools to get the engine programmed. For the engine to work with the various sensors and computers, programming has to take place.
The trouble with this programming is that not everyone can perform it at home. In many cases, an engine shop or dealership will be needed to help with the programming.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Swap a Gas Engine with a Diesel?
You can essentially put any engine into a car that you want, it’s just a matter of how much time and money you have. To swap a gas engine with a diesel, a lot of modifications need to take place. Expect to spend a good chunk of change once all is said and done.
Is Swapping An Engine Worth It?
If the engine no longer functions and your car has a decent resale value, it makes sense to swap the motor out. Additionally, if you need more performance from your car, you may find the cost is justifiable. On the other hand, if your car is old and will probably have more mechanical failures, it might not be worth putting another engine in. You might prefer to junk the car instead.
Is It Cheaper To Engine Swap Or Rebuild?
Most often, the rebuild is going to cost a lot less than a swap, maybe saving you half of the cost or more. However, not all engines make a good candidate for a rebuild. If the block or structure of the engine is compromised, you won’t want to use it for a rebuild.
How Long Does An Engine Swap Take?
If the swap requires you to take out the old engine and bolt in the same one, you may be able to get the job done in about ten hours. If any other modifications need to be performed or if other parts are required, the engine swap is going to take longer than normal.
Is Swapping Engines Easy?
Even with the same engine, it’s not easy to put a new motor in place. You have to carefully unbolt the old engine and replace it with a new one, making sure everything gets reconnected. If you are looking to put in a different engine, the difficulty is going to go up significantly.
To estimate the engine swap cost, you want to look at the complete picture. Don’t just evaluate what the new engine will cost you, but look closely at the total repair job, so you can ensure you have enough money set aside.
We advise you to shop around for the parts and labor rates. Even with a few hours of working out all of the details ahead of time, you may be able to save yourself a good amount of money. It could be well worth your time to shop around.