Rebuilding an engine can be a great way to keep your favorite vehicle on the road, and also gives you the satisfaction of doing your own repair work. But it can also be a challenging, time-consuming task and isn’t for everyone. Whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced mechanic, consider the following questions before you attempt an engine rebuild:
There are three primary reasons to rebuild an engine: loss of compression, excessive oil consumption and excessive oil clearances. But like any symptom, there are multiple potential causes. For example, excessive oil burning could be caused by stuck oil rings – or you could just need a $6 PCV valve. Therefore, it’s important to thoroughly test your engine first to make sure a rebuild is necessary.
This is ultimately a personal choice and depends on factors such as the overall vehicle condition, how much longer you want to keep it on the road, and the cost of a new engine or vehicle versus a rebuild. Generally speaking, if you think the vehicle will give you at least 3-5 more good years – without any other major repair bills in that time – then a rebuild is a good choice.
Time spent on rebuilding an engine is time you won’t be able to use the vehicle. A relatively simple ring and valve job can be completed in a week of evenings and weekends, but if the cylinders need to be bored or the block needs to be decked, you could be talking about months. If you don’t have easy access to other transportation, the expense of a new engine could be worth the time saved.
Even the simplest rebuilds require a lot of tools. Most DIY mechanics have access to torque and socket wrenches, electric drills and oil pans. But far fewer have cylinder bore honing tools, piston ring compressors, or silicone gasket makers lying around. If you don’t have these tools, you’ll need to buy them, rent them, call in a favor to a friend, or pay for a machine shop to do more of the work. The best tool that you must have is one of our DIY Engine Rebuilding Books which we offer at the lowest price possible with Free Shipping in the continental U.S.