On any vehicle, your engine is up there with the most expensive to replace should it fail.
How much it costs you to replace will depend on the model and make of your vehicle, the complexity of its engine, where you get the work done, and the replacement engine being new or used.
Either way, it’s not going to come cheap.
Prices start from around $4,000 for a new 4-cylinder engine, with more powerful engines being expensive. To get an estimated cost from the AAA regarding your vehicle, simply enter your vehicle details.
Used engines are more affordable, of course, and can cost you under $1,000. However, you’ll need to factor in the risk of the engine failing, as well as the cost of both parts and labor for repairs.
Engines rebuilt to the manufacturer’s specifications can offer a good compromise and usually come with a longer warranty. They are also moderately priced.
Your other option is to cut your losses, sell or scrap your car, and buy a new one. Replacing rather than buying can make sense and offer better value if your car is worth the investment. If it’s not that old, hasn’t got that many miles on the clock, and is in good condition apart from the engine, you’ll probably find that the cost of a new engine is worth it.
If your car hasn’t been properly maintained, on the other hand, and other components are likely to go soon, you might consider replacing the whole vehicle before the costs spiral.
What an Engine Actually Does
The power your vehicle needs to move is generated inside its internal combustion engine. By injecting a mix of fuel and air into the engine’s combustion chamber, your engine can detonate controlled explosions that move the pistons connected to the rest of the engine. You can read about how a car engine works in more detail here.
Because of these explosions and all the friction between moving parts, a car engine is susceptible to wear and damage from overheating. Proper lubrication and cooling are absolutely essential to avoid this.
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Common Engine Problems and How to Spot Them
Look out for these common causes of engine failure. Remember, if you do suspect there’s a problem with the engine, make sure you get it looked at without delay. Do not make it any worse by driving around. If you do, you’ll risk doing more and potentially severe damage that could end up being a lot more expensive.
Engine Problem 1: Overheating
Usually, the result of a defective cooling system or an oil leak, overheating should trigger a “Check Engine” light on your dashboard. If you spot any smoke emerging from the hood, pull over safely and contact a mechanic.
Engine Problem 2: Lubrication Problems
Overheating and excessive exhaust fumes could indicate lubrication problems such as oil leaks.
Engine Problem 3: Detonation Problems
Detonation problems can cause serious damage to the engine, including melted spark plugs and blown head gaskets. Listen out for high-pitched or unusual sounds when accelerating.
Engine Problem 4: Fuel Delivery Problems
If you experience surges or power losses, it could be a problem with the fuel delivery or the engine block.
Engine Problem 5: Worn-Out Engine Bearings
Strange judders and knocks could be a sign the bearings need to be replaced.
Engine Problem 6: Using The Wrong Fuel
Misfuelling is a common cause of engine failure and can be catastrophic for diesel engines. Check out what to do if the worst happens here and memorize it just in case.
Should You Repair the Engine or Buy a New Car?
Whether you choose to replace the engine or buy a new car is, for most drivers, a question of weighing up the costs.
Unless you’re planning on keeping your car and running it into the ground, it’s worth asking how much your vehicle will likely be worth if you replace the engine. This will help you see if it’s a worthwhile investment or not and make a fair comparison with buying a new car.
There are always lots of extra costs to factor in when it comes to car ownership. On top of the vehicle itself, you will also need to consider the cost of fuel, regular/essential maintenance, and unexpected repairs, especially if you’re planning on keeping the car for a free year. Factor in depreciation too, and you’re getting somewhere near to calculating the true cost of ownership.
It’s for this reason that we’d recommend taking out protection. For a modest monthly cost, you’re avoiding the risk of shelling out a lot of hard-earned money on the more extensive repairs and maintenance. It’s the best way to reduce the overall cost of owning a car.
Of course, not all extended warranties and coverage plans are equal, and you need to understand what type of protection you need.
To find out more about extended warranties, check out our starter guide here, or read our reviews of the top providers in the country to see the levels of coverage, benefits, and customer service they offer.