How to Build a 4-Cylinder Engine

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Some time ago you decided to build an engine or perhaps rebuild the one you had. You bought some brand new components, reconditioned some used parts, thoroughly cleaned the components inside and out and inspected them to manufacturer specifications. Now you are ready to assemble your 4 cylinder engine. Planning, patience and attention to detail will be your best tools at this point.

Things You'll Need

  • Engine stand Engine assembly lube Torque wrench Piston ring compressor Valve spring compressor Wrench set Ratchet and socket set
  • Mount the engine block on an engine stand; apply a coat of oil resistant sealant to the core and oil gallery plugs and install them on the block.

  • Install the main bearing faces on the bottom of the block, coat them with engine assembly lube, and lay the crankshaft in place.

  • Install the other half of the main bearings on the crankshaft caps, coat them with engine assembly lube, and install the caps following the manufacturer sequence procedure and torque specifications using a torque wrench.

  • Install the piston rings and connecting rod bearings and mount the pistons in their respective bores on the block using a piston ring compressor-make sure the notch on the piston faces the front of the engine.

  • Install the other set of rod bearings on the connecting rod caps. Apply engine assembly lube to the connecting rod and cap bearings and tighten the bolt caps to the torque specified by the manufacturer.

  • Install the vibration damper, oil and water pumps using a ratchet or wrench. Torque the bolts to manufacturer specifications.

  • Install the camshaft, valves, seals, springs, retainers and keepers on the engine head using a valve spring compressor, and then mount lifters, rocker arms and timing belt or chain sprocket.

  • Position the head gasket on the cylinder block and make sure it sits properly on the dowel pins and the "Front" mark is toward the front side of the engine. Use gasket sealant only if the manufacturer recommends it.

  • Install the engine head on the block, making sure it sits correctly on the dowel pins, and install the head bolts, using the tightening sequence and torque recommended by the manufacturer.

  • Install the timing chain and valve covers.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can install the oil pan, engine mounts, intake and exhaust manifolds, timing belt, flywheel and other accessories before or after you install the engine on the vehicle. This depends on how much access you will have to each side of the engine once it is mounted in the engine compartment. You can work on a sturdy bench, but we highly recommend an engine stand, which gives you the ability to rotate the engine and work on it from different angles.
  • It is very important that you follow torque and lubrication procedures recommended by the engine manufacturer, since every component torque and tightening sequence varies with each engine make and model. These specifications are listed on the engine service manual, which you can buy at most auto parts stores or consult for free at most local public libraries.
  • Photo Credit Photo courtesy of Starfireaw11 at Commons Wikimedia.org.
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