How Do You Know It’s Time to Replace Your Engine?


Jul 14th, 2020

How Do You Know It’s Time to Replace Your Engine?

Is it time to replace your car engine

One of the most significant realities of owning and driving a car is having to get repairs done on it. Despite these regular repairs and maintenance, the parts of your vehicle will continually depreciate with time and eventually fail to work. Lightbulbs go out; tyres get bald; gaskets eventually leak. The list is endless.

But these are relatively smaller and more regular repairs that a car requires. When you drive the same vehicle over many years and reach 'high mileage' status, you'll start to come across some of the more major faults. These are the kind that requires you to make some critical decisions about the future of your car. 

One of them is about your engine. We're not talking about changing the oil or replacing the spark plugs here. What we're talking about is deciding whether or not you need to replace the engine entirely.

If you're the kind of person who doesn't like the idea of buying a new car every few years, keeping your current one running well is in your best interest. It means that you'll probably be replacing the engine long before you ever replace the car in its entirety.

Here are a few signs that'll tell you it may be time to retire your engine soon.

Signs that You Need to Replace the Engine Soon

1. Increased Exhaust Smoke

There are many reasons why a car engine may start pushing smoke out the exhaust. If the problem persists after ruling out all the usual causes, you may need to consider a worse culprit - a problem deep in the engine.

The colour of the smoke is also a good indicator of what might be going on. For example, black smoke will tell you that too much smoke is being burned. It means that the combustion process in the engine's chambers isn't happening as it should. Dark blue smoke will tell you that your engine is burning oil (not just fuel) for some reasons. Grey smoke is probably the vaguest one of them since this colour could indicate a long list of possible causes.

Again, regular wear and tear of engine parts can be the cause. However, if the problem persists after eliminating normal wear, it might mean that there is mechanical damage in the engine.

2. Smoke Coming Out of the Hood

The only place smoke should come out of a car is the exhaust. If it comes out of the hood, you know you've got a massive problem.

Typically, smoke coming out of the hood indicates engine overheating. Too much heat could blow your head gaskets, or in a worst-case scenario, it could start melting engine parts.

3. Knocking Noises

A properly working engine should run relatively quiet. There certainly shouldn't be any knocking noises coming from it! The typical causes of these noises are worn-out bearings. In the engine, bearings hold the crankshaft in place and allow it to rotate while the engine is on. If these engine bearings get worn out, the moving components inside the engine will start knocking around. At its worst, this could cause the engine to seize up entirely.

4. Metal Shavings During Oil Changes

When you take your car for an oil change (or when you do it yourself), it might be wise to pay attention to what comes out with that oil. This is especially important if you're driving an older vehicle and you want to be watchful over the engine's health.

A sure sign that your engine may need to be changed is metal shavings during your oil changes. Remember: all the internal engine parts are designed to move smoothly and friction-less with the help of engine oil. Metal shavings are a hint that two or more metal pieces are rubbing against each other too hard inside there, and this isn't good at all. This is very damaging, and at some point soon, it could cause the whole engine to stop working entirely.

5. Engine Runs Roughly or Inconsistently

Of course, when it comes to your engine, the most apparent signs of a problem can be seen in how it performs. An engine that need to be replaced soon might run roughly or inconsistently. Perhaps the car jerks randomly when you're trying to accelerate, or you find that it just can't sit still when the car is idling.

Again, these symptoms could be caused by other problems. For example, an engine that runs roughly might be due to spark plugs that need to be replaced. But if the problem persists even after you've ruled out all the 'usual suspects', then it could be a problem with the engine itself.

Engine Replacement Options vs Buying a New Car

If you decide to replace the engine entirely, you have a few options available to you.

The most expensive option is to buy a brand-new engine. Then at least, you'll have a manufacturer's warranty that'll keep you covered for a certain amount of time or mileage.

A reconditioned engine might also have a warranty. Used car engines are also categorised as rebuilt or remanufactured used engines. The warranty coverage period will be shorter for used engines than brand-new ones. This is the middle option; you'll save some money, and you'll have some warranty protection.

Lastly, you can also opt for a salvaged engine, like from car wreckers. You might be able to save a fair bit on an engine like this. Still, the quality and reliability could vary greatly.

So, should you buy a new engine or save a little and replace the whole car? I think it depends on your priorities and budget. If the vehicle has sentimental value to you, it's worth changing the engine so you can keep driving it. Even without any sentimental value, remember that there's no need to buy a brand-new car if you're perfectly happy with the one you've got! Don’t forget to always refer to car specialists, especially since you’re investing in a major car part that could possibly improve its resale value or useful life. Always buy from reliable auto part sellers.

Otherwise, it could be a matter of budget. If you can afford a new car, trading up to a new model is an option for you. But buying a new vehicle comes with its own issues, like having to make monthly payments if you're taking a car loan.

At the end of the day, it's a rather personal decision. Just take the time to consider your options and decide what's most important to you.

By Ray Hasbollah