How to Swap Out an Engine


Most automobile engines begin to drain your wallet once they go over 200,000 miles. Repeatedly checking and adding oil, blue smoke coming from the tailpipe and clattering sounds may ruin your day. As long as the frame and body are still in good condition, it may be a good idea to retire the old engine and throw a birthday party for a new one.

Things You'll Need

  • Portable crane hoist (cherry picker in mechanics slang)
  • Engine stand
  • Complete socket set including full compliment of standard and metric sockets and extensions
  • Complete screwdriver set
  • Two twelve-foot chains with hooks, rated for the weight capacity of your engine
  • Punch and die sets
  • Hammer

Disconnect All Lines, Hoses and Linkages

  • Disconnect the negative terminal from the battery. Disconnect the radiator hose from the engine block and drain the fluid into a bucket.

  • Disconnect all electrical wires and vacuum hoses, properly marking or coding each one and drawing a diagram on paper displaying where each was removed so that they can be reconnected in their proper locations after installing the replacement engine.

  • Remove the starter, alternator, cap and rotor, carburetor, fuel injection system, electronic ignition modules and belts. Store all of these for placement on your new engine.

  • Remove bolts from the bell housing and disengage the crankshaft linkages. Remove the upper intake and set off to the side.

  • Disengage and disconnect the accelerator cable and any remaining linkages, hoses, cables or wires, always remembering mark or code them. Be sure to draw each connection onto the engine compartment diagram you are keeping on paper.

  • Locate the motor mounts under the engine and remove all of the bolts.

Remove Old Engine

  • Remove the hood of the vehicle and set it off to the side. Roll the crane jack (you should be using one with four wheels) to the automobile's engine compartment, positioning the crane hook over the engine.

  • Locate the engine lift hooks. Every engine has three or more hooks welded to them which were used at the factory to lower the engine into the engine compartment. Attach your two chains with hooks on both ends to the crane hoist's hook, and then connect the chain hooks to the motor's lift hooks.

  • Slowly raise the crane hoist, lifting the engine from the vehicle's engine compartment. Carefully transport the engine to the engine stand with the crane hoist and lower it onto the stand.

  • Lift the new engine out of it's shipping crate using the crane hoist and wheel it over to the vehicle. Lower the engine while a partner maneuvers the engine onto the motor mounts.

  • Bolt the engine down onto the motor mounts using a properly dialed torque wrench, Reconnect all lines, hoses, wires and linkages, starter, intake, carburetor, fuel injection assemblies and all other components in the reverse order of how they were disconnected. Reconnect the drive line and the bell housing to the back side of the engine and replace the engine compartment hood.

Engine Break-In

  • Fill the engine with oil and fill the radiator. Reconnect the battery and start the vehicle, allowing the engine to idle for about fifteen minutes.

  • Follow the engine's break-in protocol as outlined in the manual that came with your engine. Proper break-in is necessary to prevent damage to your new engine and to extend its life.

  • Change the motor oil every 300 miles during break-in or as recommended by the engine's break-in instructions.

Tips & Warnings

  • Purchase an engine with the longest warranty possible. Always replace an engine on a flat surface Use wheel chocks on all four wheels to prevent movement of the vehicle while lifting and lowering engines. Use extra attention and care when reconnecting fuel lines and all electrical wire harnesses to your new engine, making sure all connections are complete.
  • Always capture and store drained fluids in approved containers. Keep small children and pets away from your work location. Automotive engines are heavy and may cause severe injury or death if they fall from supports or the hoist.

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