The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Replacing Engines Instead of Buying New Vehicles

May 1999, by Staff

In some cases, engine replacement is a viable alternative to acquiring a new vehicle. It can be done for a fraction of the cost, plus you avoid taxes, license fees, and insurance expenses that are incurred in vehicle replacement.

Replacements Can Save Money, Extend Vehicle Life

  • Any vehicle that is otherwise in sound overall mechanical condition and is planned to be in service for several more years is a good candidate for engine replacement.
  • Engine replacement offers savings in taxes, license fees, and insurance costs
  • Replacements can be done at a set interval or at the time of engine failure.
  • Remanufactured engines should last as long as the original engine, effectively doubling the service life of the vehicle.


Vehicle replacement cost is among the biggest expenses facing managers of all types of fleets. However, a viable alternative to buying a new vehicle, in some cases, is engine replacement, which can save thousands of dollars per vehicle. Depending on the size of your fleet, that could amount to enormous annual savings.

In addition, an engine replacement offers savings in taxes, license fees, and insurance expenses that would otherwise be incurred in buying a new vehicle. Also, rather than the four- to seven-year depreciation cycle of a new vehicle, engine replacements can be depreciated in the same year.

(For the purposes of this article, engine replacement is defined as the removal of the original engine and replacement with a new, rebuilt, or remanufactured engine.)

When considering engine replacement, one factor is the intended lifecycle of the vehicle in question. If the vehicle is planned to be in service for another three to five years and is in good overall condition, it is a good candidate for engine replacement.

Replacement Intervals: Reactive or Proactive?

When is the right time to replace an engine? One school of thought is the reactive method, which is to replace it at the time of engine failure.

"Typically, we do [engine] replacements when the engine fails," said Duane Walker, plant manager for Eddins-Watcher Co., a petroleum distributor based in Odessa, TX.

The company performs eight to nine engine replacements in a typical year for its fleet of approximately 200 vehicles.

The other method is planned replacement at a specific mileage, regardless of whether the engine has experienced a failure or major breakdown. The proactive method offers other savings in engine-related maintenance costs, since the related parts receive less ancillary wear.

"We found that if you are proactive in replacing engines, you won't spend more in the long run, although your initial expense may be more," said Bob Haddox, director of transportation for Tulsa Public Schools, which routinely replaces engines to extend vehicle service life in its fleet of 600 trucks, buses, cars, and maintenance vehicles.

With planned replacements, it's a good idea to schedule them during slow times of the year, since a typical replacement requires 14 to 22 hours of labor time. This is an addition to the time it takes to order and ship the replacement engine.

Replacement Engines Should Last as Long as the Original

Once a vehicle has undergone an engine replacement, it should be able to last at least as long as the original engine, provided the other systems are all in sound mechanical condition. For example, if an engine was replaced at 150,000 miles, its replacement should be expected to last for another 150,000 miles if it is properly maintained.

In some cases, remanufactured engines offer increased performance over new factory engines of the same model and size. Some companies, such as Jasper Engines and Transmissions, a national supplier of rebuilt engines, make modifications which it says improves the performance and durability of engines.

Rebuilt or Remanufactured, What's the Difference?

The term "rebuilt engine" refers to any engine that is removed from the original vehicle, repaired, and replaced in that vehicle or any other vehicle. Unfortunately for the consumer, there are no specific standards for what type of repairs are done to a re-built engine. Some companies may only do necessary repairs, such as replacing damaged pistons or valves; others may make more through changes, such as replacing all pistons and valves.

The term "remanufactured engine" refers to a used engine, or "core," which has been completely overhauled to "like-new" condition, including the replacement of all parts such as valves and pistons, and the removal and reconditioning of all parts. In terms of function, it is the equivalent of a new engine.

"With a remanufactured product, you have the benefit of hindsight," said Mike Pfau of Jasper Engines. "When these original engines were designed and built, they were designed and built in a certain manner. When they get into service, there may be things that have failed, which did not hold up as well, that experience and history can teach us. So we as manufacturers will look at those areas, and we'll make modifications that will improve the overall performance and durability of the engine."

Typical modifications include replacing the intake valves with sodium-filled valves; replacing exhaust valves with stellite exhaust valves; putting in a hardened crankshaft; installing hyper-eutectic pistons; installing chrome-molly piston rings; adding a Teflon rear seal; installing chrome-plated valve stems; and installing graphite-coated pistons. The addition of high-performance parts, which are more resistant to heat and friction, increases engine performance and durability. Though these types of remanufactured engines are somewhat more expensive, they offer cost savings in maintenance and vehicle downtime in the long term.

When searching for replacement engines, fleets have to consider engine quality and durability, and the type of warranty provided, as well as how long the company has been in business. What do its other customers say about the product? What parts does it automatically replace, and are there parts that it will not, and why? Do they test them? Those are all criteria that fleet managers need to look for in order to shop for the best value.




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  1. 1. ca [ September 03, 2014 @ 10:49AM ]

    i have a 2014 mazda cx5 with less than 7500k miles on it i need a new engine put it do i fight for a new vehicle or let them put it in a go on my way please help!

  2. 2. james fickackerly [ May 31, 2016 @ 12:35PM ]

    I was in trouble last year when engine of my 2006 Honda Odyssey EX-L grade blew. I couldn't find a used engine for less than $1800 anywhere with just 30 days warranty at salvage yards. I came across in Houston. They quoted me $1850 for a rebuilt engine. I was so impressed that I put down payment for them to start rebuilding one for me right away. I am glad I took that decision. I saved a lot of money because I paid as much as I would have paid for a used engine.

  3. 3. David Storm [ October 12, 2016 @ 09:23AM ]

    Buying a new(crate motor) or a remanufactured motor is the only way to go.with a year warranty. Buying a Salvage Motor is hit or miss..the normal salvage motor has 100K or more miles on it..with only a 30 or 60 day warranty! If you are keeping the vehicle,pay a little extra and get a new or remanuf motor.If your just going to replace the motor and sell the vehicle..that choise is up to you !

  4. 4. Samruddhi [ November 18, 2016 @ 01:28AM ]

    Who can help us to change the engine of the car instead of changing the entire car. We went to the car showroom of ford to ask for the replacement of engine but they refused us saying this is not possible.

  5. 5. Jolene downs [ December 19, 2016 @ 07:33PM ]

    Buying new engine diesel for a Dodge truck 17000.00. Can I keep my old engine

  6. 6. Kirby [ June 29, 2017 @ 05:56PM ]

    My Vin is 1FTRX08L8WKB57631 1998 F150 5.4 automatic I wanted to know what a list of all engines that will fix my truck what vehicles do I get them out of.

  7. 7. Shelly Mcginty [ August 27, 2017 @ 09:23AM ]

    My 2012 Dodge ram needed 164,000 miles needed a camshaft and lifters and that was $3500 so I opted to put a rebuilt motor in it and found a place called Remanns that had a five year warranty on parts and labor . It was here in 4 days in a crate. They did not charge me a court charge but I had to have my motor back to them which they picked up at no cost. My motor was 3499.00 and now I have 0 miles for the same price it would've cost for them to replace two things on my old motor and who knows what else they would've found. I think this is the best choice I could've ever made. Cost me 1500 to replace it by the mechanic, but now I have a five year warranty on parts and labor and a new motor. I highly suggest Remanns for your engine replacement

  8. 8. Kimberly Gordon [ September 14, 2017 @ 07:22AM ]

    I need a engine done on a 2003 Lincoln Navigator do y'all do that

  9. 9. Dan miller [ October 02, 2017 @ 06:02PM ]

    I need an engine replacement for a 2003 lexust rx300.

  10. 10. Dan miller [ October 02, 2017 @ 06:03PM ]

    Lexus rx300

  11. 11. Norman Parroche [ October 11, 2017 @ 06:05AM ]

    I need a replacement for used engine on my 2001 Lincoln town car. Please provide me total cost for complete works like ENGINE PLUS INSTALLATION = PARTS & LABOR with 50k warranty or 1 year.

    Our location here in Rolling Meadows, IL.

    Thank you very much.


  12. 12. Advance Auto Parts [ October 12, 2017 @ 10:58PM ]

    Now if you are in that situation wherein your car is seriously suffering from serious issues, especially car engines problems, you may feel that it’s already the end of the road. Well yes, it might be a sign that your old baby is already at the last leg of its useful life. Howbeit, you also must know that there is still some light to this predicament. You may opt to get a replacement engine so you could still use and enjoy your beloved car.

  13. 13. Advance Auto Parts [ October 20, 2017 @ 05:11AM ]

    All of us car owners, regardless of our age, social status, lifestyle, or vehicle preference, at the least have one thing in common. That is, the desire to be able to use and keep our beloved cars for as long as we could. It is our investment (sort of), our pride and joy, and fruit of all our hard work. But unfortunately, even if we do everything in our might, there will still be unfortunate circumstances when our cars may be damaged, broken, and wrecked.

  14. 14. Abdul [ October 23, 2017 @ 11:38AM ]

    I need a engine for my polo 1.2 moda

  15. 15. cameron bennett [ October 25, 2017 @ 10:51AM ]

    I like that you mention that a replacement engine can double the service life of a vehicle. I think if you're concerned about an engine, it's always good to seek out a professional to see what they recommend. Sometimes it may just be a problem somewhere else in the vehicle that needs to be serviced. either way, it's good to have an auto shop that you can trust to help you get the most out of your vehicle.

  16. 16. brown [ January 26, 2018 @ 09:53PM ]


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