The Used Car Engine Price Listing: A Buyers Guide


Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida was an Automotive Editor who produced buying guides and sneak previews, in addition to publishing daily news stories and tracking monthly deals, incentives and pricing trends from Toyota, Nissan and Lexus.

, Automotive Editor - March 11, 2020

If you ever need to replace the engine in a used car, engine prices will vary substantially due to the various types currently offered. The two types of engines are 1) re-built engines and 2) salvaged engines. Re-built engines are (as the name implies), re-built by capable technicians with new piston rings, engine bearings, gaskets and seals.

Parts like the engine block, cylinder head and camshafts rarely need replacing, so they are inspected, cleaned and re-used in a re-built engine. Salvaged engines are original engines that no longer have use in their original applications due to theft, accidents or government-mandated limits. For example, vehicles in countries such as Japan only stay on the road for 7-8 years before they are replaced. The old vehicles are disassembled and the engines and parts are sold to shops in the United States. These engines will have documentation to support their mileage numbers, but unscrupulous re-sellers will often times not include the documents so that they can charge more for a particular engine.

With that, you should be aware that all engines come in two basic versions that vary considerably in price: long block engines and short block engine.

Long Versus Short Block Engine

The main difference between a long or short block version of an engine is the components that are actually included with the engine. A short block engine is an engine that comes with only the lower section included, or in other words, the engine without the cylinder heads or head gasket attached. Short blocks include the engine block, crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, bearings and oil pan.

On the other hand, a long block engine is more of a complete bolt-in replacement option as it includes the cylinder head(s), camshafts (if applicable), valves, valve springs and most importantly, a brand-new head gasket. The head gasket's primary function is to separate the engine coolant from the engine oil. Head gasket failure is the #1 reason why engines eventually get replaced. The reason they fail is because of overheating. The expansion rate of the cylinder head and engine block are not the same, and as the engine temps increase, the natural tendency of that expansion slightly warps the cylinder head allowing coolant and oil to mix, which can lead to catastrophicengine failure.

The cost you pay for any replacement engine will directly depend on the year, make and model of your vehicle. Naturally, a long block engine will always cost more than its short block counterpart, but saves headaches and hassles with removing and re-using parts off of your old engine.

Prices of Popular Replacement Engines

While re-manufactured or used engines are available for almost any make and model vehicle that you can imagine, some engines are indeed more popular than others. The reasons that a particular engine or motor may be in high demand or popular vary as much as the types of engines that are available.

However, if you are searching for one of the more popular engine types, this list will give you some basic pricing information that you can used to estimate ball park figures for 3 of the best selling engine types. Just remember that the pricing information below is provided for reference purposes only and that you may find prices that or higher or lower than those listed here.

  • Chevrolet 305 - This engine is definitely one of the most sought after and popular types sold on the Internet. This 5.0 liter engine was first introduced in 1976 and was used in numerous Chevrolet and GM cars and trucks until 1992. The engine can be found at websites operated by engine re-manufacturers and used engine dealers. Prices for this particular engine vary considerably; however, you will probably pay between $1000 and $3000 in most cases. However, if you require a high performance version, be prepared to pay much more.
  • Ford 302 - The 302 is 5.0 liter engine that was produced by Ford for use in many popular vehicles between 1968 and 2001. The popular engine was used in famed Ford muscle cars like the Mustang and 1968 Shelby GT as well as in luxury Ford vehicles like the LTD and Lincoln Continental. Because of its popularity, the engine is available from many sources. Prices for the Ford 302 range between about $800 and $3500. However, high performance versions can run you as much $10,000 - $15,000.
  • Honda/Acura K20 - The Honda K20 4-cylinder 2000cc engine comes in several variations that vary widely in price and availability. Popular Honda models that have used this engine include the Accord and Civic, and engines for these particular vehicles are the most popular and easiest to find. For a K20 replacement motor, you should expect to pay around $1000 for a basic re-manufactured short block engine and prepare to pay more than $7000 (or more) for highly modified versions.

Related Questions and Answers

What Part of the Engine is the Most Expensive to Replace?

In many cases, the most expensive engine part to replace are the head gaskets. Replacing a head gasket can cost upwards of $2,000. When it comes to expensive repairs, the engine is one of the most expensive areas to have work done on. Coming in a close second, would be the transmission. Powertrain repairs can be very expensive. Rebuilding a transmission can easily run $2,000 or more. When getting your vehicle repaired, call around for estimates and check the reputation of the shop. Its important that you are confident in the work being done on your vehicle.

, Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida was an Automotive Editor who produced buying guides and sneak previews, in addition to publishing daily news stories and tracking monthly deals, incentives and pricing trends from Toyota, Nissan and Lexus.

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