Can Ron's Engine Be Replaced?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 30, 2012

Hi, Tom & Ray:

I have a 1993 Cadillac Coupe DeVille with a 4.9-liter V-8 engine. It has 123,000 miles on it, and I want to keep it forever. My car dealer tells me the engine cannot be rebuilt, nor can a new engine be purchased (a crate, short or long block). So, is the dealer on drugs, or what? What can I do when this engine dies? Am I stuck with going to the junkyard for a replacement engine?

-- Ron

TOM:I don't think so, Ron.

RAY: There ARE a handful of engines that can't be rebuilt. Rebuilding an engine involves "boring out" the cylinders.

TOM: Not boring in the sense of what we do to our readers every week, but boring as in drilling. Basically, when you enlarge the cylinders, you give them new, smooth walls, which the old cylinders didn't have anymore.

RAY: But some engines have already been bored out by the manufacturer. They have done so to increase the size of the engine, as a way of adding power. And perhaps the cylinder walls are too close together now to be drilled again.

TOM: And then there are some engines that are so old that the manufacturer doesn't make new ones anymore. That may be the case with your car.

RAY: But you almost always can buy a "remanufactured" engine, which is pretty much good as new. All the parts that can be refurbished and restored get reused, and the stuff that's worn out gets replaced with new parts. It's not done by the manufacturer, so it's technically not a new replacement engine. But for a used car, it's just as good.

TOM: We use a company called Jasper Engines. We checked, and they make one for your Cadillac. In fact, they had one in stock, which they tried to unload on us! They ship these things in crates all over the country. So your mechanic can have it sent to his shop, and then he'd install it.

RAY: They're not cheap. But you're practically getting a brand-new engine. So expect to spend a good four grand on the engine and another thousand bucks on labor when the time comes.

TOM: But if you're nutty enough to want to keep a '93 Coupe DeVille forever, I'm confident you're nutty enough to drop $5,000 on an engine for it. Good luck, Ron.

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