How Long Do Automotive Engines Last?

Replacing Automotive Engines

Replacing a car's engine can be a complex task.
© Simin

Of course, despite your best efforts, you still may need to replace some car parts -- including the engine. While there's a lot of car part information written about replacing components like brake pads, auto part information on replacing an engine can be tough to come by.

Replacing individual car parts is usually pretty straightforward. Auto parts, in general, are meant to be replaced. However, replacing an automotive engine can be difficult since they're not only big and heavy; they're also made up of lots of little parts. Plus, engines have to work with several other systems on the car, including the exhaust, cooling system, transmission and electrical system.


We don't have nearly enough time to explain exactly how to remove and replace an engine. But, in general, the process starts by selecting a new engine that fits the car. Cars only have so much space that an engine can fit in, so even though an engine swap could be a lot of fun, you can save your self a lot of headaches by not attempting to cram a giant V8 into your Mini Cooper. You also should take the engine's weight into account when selecting a new one. The engine may fit in a car's engine bay, but weigh too much for the car's suspension to take. While the suspension can be beefed up, that's a lot of added work and expense.

Once you have the right engine, it's a matter of getting it into the car, hooking it to the transmission, exhaust, electrical and cooling systems. It's actually very complex -- a new engine alone can cost more than $1,000, and when you add in the labor hours to remove the old engine and get the new engine into the car, you're looking at a bill that could easily top a few thousand dollars. Once the new engine is in and all hooked up, it needs its vital fluids. Only then can it be brought to life -- hopefully to be well maintained and last hundreds of thousands of miles.

For more information about automotive engines, auto part longevity and other related topics, follow the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • DeAngelis, Lauren. "Can Your Car last a Million Miles?" U.S. News Rankings and Reviews. (Oct. 6, 2009)
  • MSN Autos. "How to Make Your Car Last Longer." (Oct. 6, 2009)
  • R.L. Polk and Co. "U.S. Median Vehicle Age Increased in 2008." March 3, 2009. (Oct. 6, 2009)
  • Solomon, Christopher. "Cars That Last a Million Miles." MSN Money. (Oct. 6, 2009) SaveonaCar/CarsThatLastAMillionMiles.aspx
  • The Auto Channel. "Irv's Volvo P1800 Rolls for 40 Years." June 20, 2006. (Oct. 6, 2009)