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The Costs of a Replacement Engine

The Costs of a Replacement Engine
Kelly Boyer Sagert
Kelly Boyer SagertUpdated August 12, 2022
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Whether it’s a squeal or a hiss, a tap, a bang, or a knock, when your car engine makes new sounds, it’s time to investigate the source. Sometimes the issue is small and easily and inexpensively remedied. Other times, though, you may need to replace your engine. Tk through new engine replacement costs, the average cost of rebuilding an engine, and more—including situations where you don’t need to replace your engine at all. 

Is It Worth It to Replace an Engine? 

To make the right decision, consider how much the vehicle is worth and compare that figure to the cost of a new engine and the cost of a rebuilt one. If the price of an engine is more than the value of the vehicle or the cost and value are similar, then consider these things: the overall condition of the car; how long you’d planned to keep the vehicle; and your ability to purchase a new car if you decide not to replace the engine. If, on the other hand, the vehicle is worth significantly more than the cost of a replacement engine and you’re otherwise happy with the car, then it could make sense to replace the engine. Each situation is unique, so do your own analysis. 

How Much Does a New Engine Cost?

Buying a new four-cylinder engine and having the dealer replace it could start at $4.000. A high-performance engine, meanwhile, could cost several thousand dollars more with the average price being in between those two figures. You could contact your dealer to get a price for your specific vehicle and then make a decision.

How Much Does an Engine Rebuild Cost? 

If your engine is worth rebuilding, then the cost can be significantly less than buying a new one. Prices, in general, can range from $2,500 to $4,000. If going this route, factor in what you’d drive while the rebuild is taking place. If, for example, it’s a rental car, add in those costs.

Typical Engine Replacement Labor Costs 

When asking “How much does an engine cost to be rebuilt?” you’re largely talking about labor costs. Labor costs can range from $70 to $100 per hour and an average engine rebuild can take 10 to 25 hours. So:
  • 10 x $70 = $700 at the low end
  • 25 x $100 = $2,500 at the high end
  • the average cost to rebuild an engine can be between $1,200 and $1,800
There may also be additional engine replacement costs to consider. 

Other Engine Replacement Costs 

Along with (or instead of) engine replacements, a vehicle may need the following replaced:
  • Water pump
  • Fuel pump
  • Radiator hoses
  • Drive belts
  • Intake and exhaust manifolds
  • Belt tensioners
  • Idler Pulleys
Here’s more about each.

Water Pump 

Replacement costs average $500, including parts and labor (but not taxes or any other related fees). The water pump is a crucial auto part that distributes coolant to help prevent the engine from overheating.

Fuel Pump

Replacement costs can range anywhere from $200 to $1,000, including parts and labor (but not taxes or fees). This pump delivers gasoline to your engine’s combustion chamber or, if appropriate, delivers diesel.

Radiator Hoses 

A radiator hose connects your engine block to your radiator and carries coolant between the two to keep your engine from overheating. The actual replacement hose isn’t expensive, usually costing $30 to $60. 

Drive Belts 

Also known as a driving belt or serpentine belt, this car engine belt provides power for numerous driving functions. Replacing this belt can cost between $120 and $160 for parts and labor.

Intake and Exhaust Manifolds 

Labor costs make up most of the expense for an intake manifold. Depending on the vehicle and its intake manifold placement, the repair job can take two to three hours; so, figure approximately $250. Costs to replace the exhaust manifold can also vary by make and model with averages ranging from $150 to $400 and up.

Belt Tensioners 

A belt tensioner maintains the tension on the serpentine belt described above with enough grip on the vehicle’s pulleys (more about that next) to send the rotating force of your engine where it needs to go. On average, the belt tensioner costs $150 to replace. 

Idler Pulleys 

This part drives your vehicle’s belt and plays a key supporting role for your engine’s operation. Replacing an idler pulley can cost, on average, between $80 and $200.

Ways to Cover Engine Replacement Costs 

Three ways to cover engine replacement costs include the following:
  • Cash
  • Credit Card
  • Personal Loan
Here’s more about each.

Cash

If you’re able to pay for the car engine replacement cost out of the money you have in a savings or checking account—and you can pay the mechanic’s bill without cutting yourself short on other expenses—then using cash could be the right move. You won’t have to worry about paying any interest.

Credit Card 

It can be convenient to pay for your engine replacement costs with a credit card. You can pay the balance over time and may earn cash back or other credit card rewards. Plus, you can dispute the bill, if necessary. That said, if you don’t pay the balance in full, you will accrue interest charges, which makes the repair more expensive, overall. 

Personal Loan 

If you qualify for a personal loan, this flexible kind of financing can be used to pay repair costs. You will likely pay a lower interest rate than you would with a credit card and may benefit from higher limits. If unsecured, there is no collateral required for a personal loan. You will need to pay interest on the loan and monthly payments may be higher than on a credit card.

Other Typical Car Repair Costs 

These costs can include the following:
  • Airbag replacement costs
  • Catalytic converter costs
  • Transmission costs
  • Head gasket costs

Airbag Replacement Cost 

Today’s cars contain airbags, cushions that serve as safety devices in case of an accident. Typically, replacement airbag costs come in between $1,000 and $2,000 although it’s possible for multiple airbags to deploy during a collision, which would increase your costs.

Catalytic Converter Cost 

A catalytic converter contains the exhaust that previously went into the atmosphere. It also converts some components of the exhaust for a more eco-friendly process. When replacing yours, catalytic converter costs can range from $400 to a couple of thousand dollars, depending upon your vehicle. 

Transmission Cost 

Transmission costs can be fairly affordable or pretty hefty, depending on what needs doing. Your transmission controls how much power that’s generated by your vehicle’s engine reaches the wheels at a particular time. If you’re just changing the fluid, figure $80 to $250. To fix a leak, that will be near the top of that range. Rebuilding the transmission can cost anywhere between $2,500 and $4,500 with a new transmission costing between $4,000 and $8,000.

Head Gasket Cost 

This part creates a seal between your vehicle’s cylinder head and engine block. When you need to replace yours, head gasket costs typically range between $1,000 and $2,000 although more challenging repairs can go up to $3,000.

The Takeaway 

How much does it cost to replace an engine? It depends on whether you’d get a new one or rebuild the one you have—as well as any other supplementary repairs/replacements that would need to take place.

3 Auto Loan Refinance Tips

  1. Refinancing your auto loan could lead to lower monthly car payments and more money in your budget. Lantern by SoFi can help you find the right auto refi loan for you.
  2. Lengthening the term of your auto loan can decrease your monthly payments and free up funds for other financial goals.
  3. Generally, the newer your car, the lower the refi interest rate. This is because younger cars typically have a higher value than old or used cars — and the car serves as collateral for the loan. 

Photo credit: iStock/fnd3000SOLC0122004

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a car engine cost?
Is it worth it to replace an engine?
Can you buy a car engine?

About the Author

Kelly Boyer Sagert

Kelly Boyer Sagert

Kelly Boyer Sagert is an Emmy Award-nominated writer with decades of professional writing experience. As she was getting her writing career off the ground, she spent several years working at a savings and loan institution, working in the following departments: savings, loans, IRAs, and auditing. She has published thousands of pieces online and in print.
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