What Does it Mean to Overhaul an Engine?

engine overhauler

What Does it Mean to Overhaul an Engine?

An engine overhaul can be described in a variety of ways, and we’re going to answer some common questions about doing an engine overhaul in this article today. As we discuss the different ways to do an engine overhaul, we’ll include the ‘why’ as well. 

The in-chassis engine overhaul is when the mechanics don’t pull the whole engine out of the vehicle to rebuild it and repair it. They only rebuild or repair certain components like replacing the pistons rings and cylinder liners, sometimes replacing the pistons themselves if needed. An in-chassis engine overhaul gets the engine to top performance, making it as good or better than the day it came off the assembly line. 

A major engine overhaul is when the entire engine is lifted out of the vehicle and taken apart – thoroughly. This entails every bolt and nut is removed as is every part that is removable. They are either cleaned or replaced with brand new parts from the factor. 

How much does it cost to overhaul an engine?

By those two descriptions, it makes sense that the in-chassis engine overhaul is less expensive than the major engine overhaul. In some cases, the vehicle owner has the mechanic upgrade the engine as they to the engine overhaul to give it more power. 

There isn’t a fast and hard base dollar you can give an in-chassis or major engine overhaul. Every engine is different as to how it has worn out, meaning the depth of the repair or replacement isn’t known until the mechanic “gets inside” the engine. An average, typical engine overhaul can start around $2,500 and go up to $4,000 or more. This will include parts and labor. 

How do you know if you need an engine overhaul?

Your mechanic will let you know after they have performed a thorough inspection and diagnosis if an engine overhaul is needed. Some of the most common indicators are: 

  • Misfiring engine
  • Bad oil leak
  • Engine burning oil
  • Head gasket leaking
  • Engine pistons slapping inside the cylinders

There are other issues that can often make it look like an engine overhaul is needed, when it is something less intense, like a failed sensor or your vehicle is low on oil. A bad timing belt or electrical issues can make it seem like an engine overhaul is needed. Again, this is when an experienced mechanic can be the best source.  

Some common issues and symptoms that are indicators an engine overhaul is needed: 

  • At an idle, the engine is knocking and rattling. 
  • A thick cloud or puff of smoke comes from the exhaust when you start the vehicle. 
  • The timing belt or chain is broken. This can mean an engine overhaul is need, but not always.
  • The engine is seized and won’t turn over (start). This could be the battery or starter too, which is when you need the guidance of a mechanic. 
  • The engine clatters as you accelerate. This can also mean the timing belt is loose or broken, or it can be bad gas.

How long does an engine overhaul take?

In a mechanic shop, the place where to overhaul engine, with professional mechanics doing the engine overhaul, the average time is 3 weeks. Depending on the make and model of the vehicle, the engine’s existing condition, and if there are any issues in getting the parts needed, it could take up to 2 months. 

Do rebuilt engines last long?

There are four things you need to ask when getting an engine overhaul: 

1). How much will this cost? This can vary somewhat based on what parts are needed to complete the engine overhaul.

2). How long will the engine overhaul take? As we mentioned earlier, this can depend on the make, model, engine condition, and getting parts for the engine overhaul.

3). How will the engine last after the overhaul is done? Then there are two factors that can affect this result: 

  • How you drive the vehicle.
  • If maintenance and upkeep are done as recommended, like the oil change. 

4). What is the warranty on the engine overhaul work?

A typical warranty on an engine overhaul is 12 month or 12,000 miles. Some engine overhauls will have a 36 month warranty with unlimited miles. However, what most people with normal driving habits and keeping up with the oil change and other maintenance issues will get a lifespan longer than the original engine. You want the work done by a mechanic that has experience in how to do engine overhaul to get the best results.  

engine being taken apart

Is it worth it to rebuild an engine? 

Trying to decide is engine overhaul good thing to do for your vehicle can be a daunting decision. Things you should consider is the mileage on the vehicle, what the vehicle’s value is for trade-in or selling, and if there are any other significant repairs needed.  

A 20 year old vehicle with 200,000 miles on the existing engine with bent piston rods is not worth an engine overhaul. Chances are you’d be fortunate to get $2,000 by selling the vehicle or $500 trade-in value toward a new vehicle. Need engine overhaul in Atascadero, CA? Call 805-466-3236 today.