By Anthony Santiago - Editor-in-Chief

June 29, 2022
Is It Cheaper to Buy a New Car or New Engine

Is It Cheaper to Buy a New Car or New Engine?

If your car needs a new engine, you might be wondering if it makes sense to replace the engine or to get a new car all together. Before you panic and worry about the costs involved to get you back on the road, we will cover the pros and cons of a new "used" engine vs a new car. 

If you ask any mechanic, they will give you their honest opinion if it's worth fixing or just getting a new car. 9 times out of 10, in my opinion, it would be cheaper to replace the engine than to get a new car. 


The cost of a new car would be in the tens of thousands of dollars. At this point, you can look at a commitment of monthly payments or a large bill of an engine replacement. 

Is it better to replace the engine?

It depends. Before you agree to an engine replacement, you will need to assess the overall condition of your car. As yourself the following questions:

  • What is the overall condition of the car? If your car is in fair to poor condition, then it might be better to buy a new "used" car. Body damage, electrical issues, and rust are big considerations to factor in. However, if your car is in very good to mint condition, then I would lean towards getting a new engine swapped in. 

  • How many miles does the car have? If your car has less than 100k then I would suggest looking at the engine replaced. It is cheaper to get a "used" engine than to rebuild an engine. 

  • What is the make of your car? Imports seem to be more reliable than domestic cars in the United States. However, depending on your answers to the previous two questions, it might be ok to replace an engine. 

  • Why did the engine fail? What was the reason your engine failed? Was it a defective design waiting to fail? Was it poor maintenance? Oil sludge? All of this should be considered before deciding.

Is It Cheaper to Buy a New Car or New Engine

If the car has under 150k miles, then replacing an engine makes sense. Typically the car should be in decent condition. However, as the miles rack up other components of the car might require replacement too, such as suspension, transmission and plastic tidbits. 

I vote yes, if it is a European or Japanese brand. These cars seem to have a longer lifespan and reliability. From experience, these would make sense to replace the car's engine.

Domestic cars like Ford, Chevy, Dodge, are cheaper to buy and you might be better off buying a new "used" replacement car instead of stinking $3,000 for an engine swap or more for a rebuild. 

Cost of Engine Replacement vs Cost of a New Car

Is It Cheaper to Buy a New Car or New Engine?

The cost of an engine replacement varies greatly. But estimate about $3000 for an engine replacement. If your car is valued less than $3,000, then you might want to put that money into a new "used" car. 

If your car is worth less than $3,000, I would suggest getting a new car.  

TIP: If you can wrench or have a family friend that can help. You can ask around for options. I would definitely shop around for shops that specialize in engine replacements or specialize with the make and model of your car. 

If your car is worth between $3,000 - $9,000, I would suggest getting engine estimates.  

With car prices rising, you might be able to fight depreciation with your car value. Even if you spend $3,000 for an engine replacement. You can consider that an equivalent of a down payment for a newer car. Keep your fingers crossed that nothing else fails on you.

New Car Option

You can definitely find good used car buys locally. For a few thousand dollars more, you can find a high mileage, reliable car in good condition. See our list of the top 10 cars under $10k. Regarding your old car, you should be able to find someone that is interested in your car at Fair Condition. 

Visit and input your cars Make, Year, Model and Miles. Then place the condition at Fair.  While you won't get a lot of money, you should be able to fetch some money. 

If your car is worth $10k+, I would heavily rethink a new engine and keep the car.  

Used Engine vs Rebuilding an Engine

When it comes to the engine, it is far cheaper to replace with a used engine, versus rebuilding an engine. Note, if you own a VW or BMW that has piston issues, please make sure that you get compression numbers or have a compression test done on the used engine before purchasing.

What is a Compression Test on an Engine?

A compression test is a routine device check on an engine that measures the pressure within the engine's cylinders. It determines whether there are any issues with the pistons, rings, or valves. If there are any problems, they can be corrected before the engine is put into use.

Rebuilding an Engine

Rebuilding an engine takes time and more shops would prefer to just swap a new engine in. This is because of the estimated labor hours required to disassemble and reassemble your engine. 

As mentioned before, rebuilding an engine typically costs more, but can be done in a shorter period of time. Used engines, on the other hand, may be cheaper, but may have more wear and tear. It's important to factor in everything, including the cost of labor and parts, before making a decision.

Maintenance Service for Engine Troubles

Another consideration regarding your car engine replacement are the other major items that can fail. PVC valves, cooling system and rear main seals are hefty repairs that can be prone for replacement. 

In addition, cars with a history of transmission issues should be researched as well. There is nothing worse than having a smooth running engine and having a catastrophic transmission fail immediately after. 

Be sure to have your car's overall health checked before investing in an engine replacement. In fact, it might be a good opportunity to include any preventative maintenance on the car while the engine is out. 

This will provide additional insurance for headache free ownership in the months and years ahead.  

  • Rust - Rust on a car can indicate excessive wear and tear on your car. Rust can attack the floorboards and subframe, so it's important to understand if you have a bigger issue at head. If your car is rust free, then that is a good sign that it might be a good candidate for an engine replacement.
  • Chassis - The chassis for the frame of the car needs to be in good shape. Any damage or tears in the subframe can quickly add up if a repair is needed in the future. Be sure to have a professional check the chassis that it is structurally ok to move forward. Frame damage can seriously hurt your car's performance and its resale value. 
  • Transmission -  If you are experiencing any transmission issues, I would hold off on any engine replacement. Transmission work can quickly add up into the thousands of dollars. At least $2000 repair depending on the make and model. Sometimes a fluid drain, not flush can help along with resetting adaptation but that is wishful thinking. 
  • Title and Resale Value - If your title is rebuilt already, it's not worth putting more money into a new engine. Secondly, check the KBB or NADA price of your car. If it's under $5k, you will have to seriously reconsider if it's worth paying for a new engine.

Is It Cheaper to Buy a New Car or New Engine

Typical Cost Engine Replacement

Replacing an engine is not cheap. But it is cheaper than rebuilding. Unless you can wrench it yourself. 

Here are cost involved with a used engine and labor:

Of course, pricing can vary from make and model. But estimate that the labor cost for a car engine replacement to range from $1,500 - $3,000 based on the shop and their experience. 

Be sure you find a shop that has experience replacing engines based on the make and model of your car. The steps in replacing engine mounts, cooling systems and wiring is no easy feat. Not all auto repair shops have the experience or knowledge to complete this. 

In fact, some may turn away this work as it would tie up their lift for a few days. Be sure to ask first.

Engine Replacement Warranty

Depending on the shop, your engine will come with a warranty. Typically it is for 3 years. However, if you have a used engine it might be for 90 days or less. Be sure to get the warranty in writing to make sure you are covered. 

In Conclusion 

In conclusion, when deciding to replacing engine or buying a new car, it's better to replace an engine if you have lower miles and your car is in good shape.  It can save you a lot of money in the long run and it’s a great way to get your car back on the road and running smoothly.

If you’re considering getting a replacement engine, be sure to do your research and find the best one for your car. Thanks for reading!

More Articles Worth Checking Out:

When looking to buy a new mid-sized hybrid SUV, you have several options to consider. Two popular choices on the market today

Read More

I suffer from gout, a form of arthritis in the joints. During an attack, it is painful and debilitating, so I personally

Read More

I get asked all the time by friends and family what cars I would recommend to their older parents or young teen.

Read More

Is Buying a Car with 200k Miles Bad? Well, it depends on your budget. As a car fanatic and enthusiast, I stumbled upon

Read More

Anthony Santiago - Editor-in-Chief

About the author

I am a passionate car enthusiast who likes to help people save money and avoid headaches when it comes to cars. I believe that everyone can find the right car at the right price. I share my tips and experience so you can learn quickly and maximize your next SUV, truck or car purchase.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Get Your Free Guide:
Top 3 Rules to Buying a Car