How to Decide Which Engine Repair Option is Best

Toyota Engine Repair

When the engine in your vehicle starts to show signs it is failing, you’ll find out there’s no such thing as a fast, easy, or cheap engine repair. And since engine work tends to be expensive, you’ll also find its a good time to consider the overall value of the vehicle before spending on engine repair or replacement.

Is your vehicle worth repairing?

Though transportation needs differ from person to person, there are several factors everyone should keep in mind when considering whether their vehicle is worth the investment of an expensive repair:

  1. As one component on a vehicle experiences wear from normal use, so do the rest. In other words, an engine repair may be the first of many repairs needed in the not too distant future.
  2. The need for repair means getting the vehicle to the shop as well as time spent in the shop. In other words, do you have another means of getting where you need to go when the vehicle is in the shop and unavailable?
  3. If you are the original owner of the car, you know its maintenance history. If this is a pre-owned vehicle, you may be unaware of times it has been subject to extreme use that can accelerate wear and tear on internal parts.

The rest of this article assumes you’ve decided your vehicle has enough value to justify spending on engine repair or replacement. The next step is having a trusted auto repair professional like our AutoTranz technicians determine the extent of engine damage. Then the goal is to help you find the most cost effective option to restore your vehicle full operation with a warranty to protect you from addition engine repairs in the near future.

Several factors will influence the technician’s recommendation. Some will relate to the type of damage found. Other factors relate to the age of the vehicle, and still others to your financial, transportation, and scheduling needs. Below you will find the main categories of repair options and important considerations for each.

Minor engine repair may be your best option

Depending on the engine problem symptoms that your vehicle exhibits, there may be different ways to achieve a satisfactory repair. First, the degree of damage to the engine and its components must be evaluated. Some parts may be repairable while others must be replaced. The overall estimate will reflect the cost of parts and the technician labor time needed to complete the engine repair and restore normal function.

In some situations, repair of certain parts can be done without removing the entire engine. Here are several examples of a repair that can be done while the engine is still in the car or truck:Cylinder head gasket

  • Coolant or oil leakage requiring head gasket replacement
  • Oil leak requiring repair of valve covers, intake gaskets, or oil pan gaskets or seals
  • Burnt valves that require cylinder head removal

Some of these repairs vary depending on the vehicle type. For example, a Subaru engine leaking oil from both cylinder heads will usually involve the shop pulling the engine. Many other makes leave the engine in the vehicle while the cylinder heads are removed for repair or replacement.

When engine repair is recommended, it is generally assumed that the cost of parts and labor hours to remove, repair, and reinstall the engine will be less than the cost of a replacement engine and the associated labor time for removal and installation.

Engine cylinder headAs it takes time to perform repairs to the engine components beyond the time required to remove and reinstall the engine itself, you must allow for additional days without use of your vehicle. Confidence in the reliability of your engine repair will depend on the skill and experience of the technician doing the work as well as precision machining of repaired components and the quality of replacement parts used.

The goal of engine repair is more than simply to restore the engine to working order. The repair and its warranty should also provide protection against the need for engine repair in the near future or for the next 50 to 100,000 miles.

Remember, the best way to preserve the life of your vehicle engine is to follow the recommended maintenance service schedule. While this doesn’t guarantee indefinite function, it preserves the engine’s components from the unnecessary wear that is caused by dirty engine oil.

Which engine replacement option is best?

When less time in the repair shop is an important factor for an engine repair customer, the option of choice may be to have a replacement engine installed. These can be either a used, rebuilt, remanufactured, or factory new engine. Be sure to ask your repair professional about the advantages or disadvantages of each type and which they recommend most often for the best outcome.

Used engine on palletUsed engines are often a less expensive replacement option up front. They generally are engines removed from vehicles in wrecking yards. While the price may seem a good deal initially, they come with caveats that can make them more expensive in the long run:

  • Many have been compromised by extreme use or abuse
  • No maintenance history provided
  • Modification may be needed before installation in your car
  • A lesser warranty is common
  • Are generally untested which can add more repair time and expense if it fails

Rebuilt engines are previously installed engines that have been rebuilt by an independent machine shop that specializes in engine repair. These can be represented as rebuilt or remanufactured. Your local auto repair shop may remove a failed or failing engine from your vehicle and send it to an independent machine shop where it is rebuilt and returned for reinstallation in your vehicle. Some vehicle owners may prefer this method as it keeps more of the car’s original equipment. It is essentially an engine repair that is sublet to a machine shop by your repair shop.

A remanufactured engine is generally a previously installed engine that has been repaired on an assembly line to precise manufacturer specs. This process is considered very reliable, and many engine rebuild vendors using this process are the choice of manufacturer dealerships and independent repair shops when ordering remanufactured engines. This option can restore your vehicle to you in 3-5 days if the engine is available, meaning less vehicle downtime.

These replacement engines may come from a company like Jasper or from an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) like General Motors replacement engines. One of the benefits of these engines are the national warranties they provide that can give you better warranty protection for your investment.

New engines are easily considered the ideal. These engines have never been previously installed in another vehicle and are, essentially, the same one installed in your vehicle by the manufacturer during assembly. Unfortunately for many vehicle owners, affordability is an issue as they are very costly. Wait time and availability may also be a factor, depending on the manufacture date of your car.

Making the best decision for engine repair on your vehicle

Subaru engineThe goal of this article has been to presented options regarding engine repair. Frequently, the best solution is based on a number of variables that relate to the vehicle and its owner:

  • Mileage on your vehicle
  • Quality of maintenance the engine has had
  • Vehicle value
  • Cost and availability of replacement parts
  • Labor cost to perform the repair
  • Warranty considerations
  • Transportation needs of the individual owner

No one fix is perfect, but invaluable to your engine repair experience is the professional auto repair shop you consult for evaluation. At AutoTranz Transmission and auto repair, our expertise and customer-focused approach means you can count on accurate analysis and a recommendation we believe to be the best option for you and your vehicle.

Request an appointment online or give us a call at (208) 853-1200 today. We are a Napa AutoCare Center so many of our repairs have a national warranty of 24 months or 24,000 miles.