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Engine Assembly Guides

Buying an Engine Assembly: Go for Short Block or Long Block?

A major headache—that’s what a worn-out engine will give you since it pretty much renders your vehicle useless. When an automotive owner is faced with this problem, the solution that he normally comes up with is to scrap his old car altogether and just get a new one instead. However, not all automotive owners go for that option. Some choose to keep their cars for various reasons and opt to replace the engine instead. And because you’re reading this, you may be in the same boat. An engine replacement may not be the easier path, but if you truly love your old car, then this is the only way that you can drive it again.

Short Block and Long Block Engines: What’s the Difference?

When you’re looking for a replacement engine, you’d have to decide between getting a short block or a long block assembly. Short block and long block engines are practically alike when it comes to dimensions. The main difference between them lies in the number of parts that they’re composed of. As you can perhaps gather from its name, a short block engine contains fewer parts than long block engines. Yes, a short block engine still consists of pistons, rods, the crankshaft, and everything else that’s considered part of the engine block. However, the cylinder head isn’t included in that assembly. On the other hand, a long block engine is made up of all the components that are available in a short block engine plus the cylinder head. Needless to say, the long block engine is the more complete engine assembly. For that reason, long block engines are more expensive than their short block counterparts.

The Big Question: Go Short or Go Long?

Let’s make this simple, eh?

Reasons to go for short block engines:

  1. All you need is a new engine block
  2. You want to save cash and use your old cylinder head (given that it’s still in good condition)
  3. You want to optimize performance and apply a little customization (you can pair the engine block with parts of your choosing)

Reasons to go for long block engines:

  1. If practically all of your engine components need a replacement
  2. Go for this if you don’t have faith in your DIY skills as a long block engine is easier to install than a short block engine

How to Replace an Automotive Engine

The engine is often referred to as the heart of your automobile. If that’s the case, then replacing the engine can be likened to a heart transplant. Engine replacement can be complicated, it can be difficult, but it’s doable nonetheless. You won’t have to worry that much though as we’ll guide you in every step of the way.

Difficulty: Hard (Even DIY experts will find this challenging)

  • Engine hoist
  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Creeper
  • Screwdrivers
  • Wrenches
  • Sockets
  • Pliers
  • Boxes
  • Camera
  • Drain Pan

Step 1: Since you’ll be using an engine hoist, position your automobile in a spot where you can maneuver the said device. It’s also ideal that your chosen spot has plenty of lighting.

Step 2: Before you touch anything, take pictures of your engine. These will serve as your references. Photographs will prove to be a great help since things can get pretty messy later on (photos can tell you which part goes where, etc.). Taking photos as you progress is also recommended.

Step 3: Once your preparations are done, start by disconnecting the battery’s ground cable. After that, drain the coolant into a pan and detach the radiator hoses. If you’re having trouble disconnecting the hoses, you can choose to cut them off instead and simply replace them later on (this isn’t advisable if the radiator hoses are made of metal though).

Step 4: Take out the radiator and the fan. After that, detach the air intake and fuel supply lines.

Step 5: Remove the air-conditioning compressor and the power steering pump. There’s no need to disconnect their hoses though.

Step 6: Find all the electrical wires that run to the engine and disconnect them. Afterwards, remove the exhaust manifold and all the connections that hold the transmission.

Step 7: It’s time to go under your car. Prepare your jack stands and jack up your vehicle.

Step 8: Depending on your car, you may also have to detach the starter and exhaust pipe connections (you’d know if you do need to do this after you’ve removed the exhaust manifold).

Step 9: Find the torque converter and pry it away from the flex plate.

Step 10: Get more jack stands and place them under the transmission. You can start unbolting the transmission afterwards. The jack stands that you positioned under the transmission should support it as soon as it’s disconnected from the engine. Once the transmission is unbolted, loosen its connections to the crossmember as well.

Step 11: To detach the transmission completely, remove the remaining transmission attachments that are connected to the engine. After that, unbolt the engine mount connection.

Step 12: Get back up and remove the jack stands that prop up your vehicle. It’s time to set it down and start hoisting the engine.

Step 13: Position the hoist properly and attach the chains to the largest bolts. Once you’re all set, carefully hoist the engine. Remember, easy does it.

Step 14: Maneuver the hoisted engine away from your car. Again, do this slowly to avoid damage to your vehicle. Set the hoisted engine down in another area.

Step 15: Finally, you can start installing the engine. Do the entire process in reverse order to get everything back under your hood. This would be easier if you took pictures along the way. Make sure that everything is installed correctly.

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