How Much Does an Engine Swap Cost?

Last Updated on February 17, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

If you’re looking to upgrade your ride with a more powerful engine, an engine swap can take your vehicle’s performance to the next level. But these complex projects don’t come cheap.

Determining the total cost for an engine swap requires careful consideration of parts, labor, and many other factors. This guide breaks down the typical price range for various engine swap scenarios to help you budget for this major automotive modification.

How Much Does an Engine Swap Cost?

Replacing your stock engine with a different factory-made or aftermarket powerplant opens up new possibilities in terms of horsepower, torque, and drivability.

While prices fluctuate based on the components used, you can expect to spend anywhere from $2,000 to over $20,000 for a complete engine swap. Custom or exotic engine builds fall on the higher end of this spectrum.

Here are some real-world examples that provide more detail on engine swap costs broken down by parts and labor:

Example 1: 350 Small Block Chevy V8 into an older muscle car

This is a common swap for restoring performance to vintage cars.

  • Engine: 350 crate engine – $3,500
  • Parts:
    • Motor mounts – $200
    • Fuel pump and lines – $350
    • Carburetor – $750
    • Headers and exhaust – $850
    • Additional gaskets, fluids, accessories – $500
  • Total Parts: $6,150
  • Labor:
    • 80 hours at $100 per hour shop rate
    • Total labor cost – $8,000
  • Grand Total: $14,150

This simple but completely transformed classic muscle car for just over $14,000.

Example 2: 2JZ inline-6 into an older Toyota Supra

This modern engine swap adds huge horsepower potential.

  • Engine: 2JZ with upgraded turbo – $8,000
  • Performance Parts:
    • Intercooler kit – $1,500
    • Stainless exhaust – $1,200
    • ECU and tuning – $1,800
    • Larger injectors – $850
    • Additional engine internals – $4,000
  • Total Parts: $17,350
  • Labor:
    • 120 hours at $125 per hour shop rate
    • Total labor – $15,000
  • Grand Total: $32,350

With nearly $20k in top-notch parts, this built 2JZ engine will reliably produce over 800 horsepower.

Example 3: LS3 V8 into a late model BMW 3 Series

This tricky modern swap requires heavy customization.

  • Engine: LS3 V8 crate engine – $7,500
  • Performance Parts:
    • Custom engine mounts – $1,250
    • Oil pan fabrication – $800
    • Custom wiring harness – $1,250
    • Transmission adapter plate – $1,500
  • Total Parts: $12,300
  • Labor:
    • 180 hours at $150 per hour shop rate
    • Total labor – $27,000
  • Grand Total: $39,300

The complex fabrication and wiring required add to the labor costs, but the end result is an ultra-high-performance BMW.

An engine swap changes the whole character of a vehicle, but it also requires comprehensive mechanical work, specialty parts, and modifications to supporting systems.

Factors That Influence Engine Swap Costs

Several important considerations impact the overall expense of swapping engines:

  • Engine choice – More powerful engines and rare options cost more upfront. Custom-built race engines are the most expensive.
  • Compatibility – The engine must integrate with the chassis and drivetrain. This affects parts and labor needs.
  • Performance intent – Budget builds differ from high-end show cars or race cars. Performance goals dictate parts selection.
  • DIY versus professional – DIY engine swaps require specialized skills and tools. Paying a shop is simpler but pricier.
  • Labor hours – Engine swaps can take 80-200 mechanic hours for R&D and installation. Shop rates vary.
  • Parts and fabrication – Extensive modifications are usually needed to engine mounts, fuel systems, wiring, cooling, etc.
  • Unforeseen complications – Unexpected issues like custom mounts or adapter plates can add costs down the road.

What Does the Labor for an Engine Swap Cost?

Engine Swap MechanicSwapping an engine is a complicated task, so labor accounts for a major portion of the total engine swap expense. Many enthusiasts attempt DIY engine swaps to save on labor fees, but most later opt to have professionals complete at least some of the installation and tuning.

Labor rates range widely based on the shop’s overhead costs and regional averages, but expect to pay $50-150 per hour for engine swap-related services. Simple swaps may take 80 hours of shop time, while complex builds with extensive modifications can reach 200 hours or more of labor.

Typical professional services related to an engine swap include:

  • Researching fitment and compatibility
  • Removal of the factory engine and preparatory work
  • Fabricating and installing custom engine mounts
  • Adapting or swapping the wiring harness
  • Modifying fuel and cooling systems
  • Fabricating custom exhaust and drivetrain parts
  • Final installation of the engine
  • Dyno tuning and break-in period

What is the Cost of Sourcing a Replacement Engine?

The engine itself represents a significant portion of the total project cost. Here are typical price ranges:

  • Junkyard engines – $500-$2,000 – Cheapest option but higher risk. Limited selection.
  • Rebuilt/salvage engines – $2,000-$4,000 – Refurbished used engines with warranties.
  • Crate engines – $4,000-$15,000 – Brand new from factory. Many performance options.
  • Exotic/custom engines – $15,000+ – Unique options like a twin-turbo V12. Sky’s the limit on cost.

Higher-performance engines naturally demand steeper prices. A basic V8 swap into an older muscle car can cost just a few thousand dollars.

At the other extreme, expect to invest over $50,000 in parts alone when installing a 1,000-hp racing engine in a high-end show car build.

According to, an engine swap on an e46 can cost between $1,000 and $1,500 for labor, plus $1,600 to $1,900 for the engine and engine refresh costs. reports that an engine swap can cost anywhere between $1,500 and $25,000, depending on the complexity of the job.

According to Third Generation F-Body Message Boards, a typical engine swap can cost between $1,200 and $1,400 for labor, with some shops charging $100 per hour.

Robs Customs and Restorations reports that mechanics typically charge between $50 and $100 per hour of labor to complete an engine swap, and this job can take up to 20 hours to complete.

Considerations for DIY Engine Swaps

Ambitious mechanics can save money by taking on the engine swap themselves. But the DIY route has some caveats:

  • You need automotive know-how, tools, and workspace. Expert help is usually still required.
  • Extensive research is necessary to select compatible components and sorting out fabrication needs.
  • Project duration will be measured in weeks or months rather than days as in a professional shop.
  • Buy a factory service manual for torques specs and procedures. Video guides are also helpful.
  • Allow ample budget room for unforeseen expenses, mistakes, and fixes down the road.
  • DIY swaps work best for simpler project cars rather than delicate exotics or race builds.

Additional Expenses to Keep in Mind

Beyond the engine and labor costs, your engine swap budget needs padding to accommodate:

Engine management – The engine computer (ECU) may need replacement or recalibration ($500+).

Electrical modifications – New sensors, wiring extensions, alternator upgrades, etc. add up.

Fuel system upgrades – Higher fuel pressure demand and bigger injectors or carb may be required.

Exhaust modifications – Custom headers, pipes, mufflers are needed to fit new engine (~$1,000).

Drivetrain adaptations – The transmission may need retrofiting to mate with new engine.

Cooling system upgrades – Larger radiators, electric fans, and pumps are common needs.

Fluids – Factor in new coolant, break-in oil, filters, spark plugs, etc.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a motorcycle engine rebuild, car chassis repair, or coil pack replacement.

How to Budget for Your Engine Swap Project

Careful upfront planning and budgeting is crucial to keep your engine swap on track:

  • Get quotes from multiple trusted performance shops. Compare service scopes.
  • Research compatible engines from salvage yards, dealers, and specialty suppliers.
  • Compile a master list of ALL parts and components required. Quiz shops on included items.
  • Invest in new wrenches, tools, fluids, filters, and shop manuals as needed.
  • Add at least 20% padding to your total budget estimate to cover surprises.
  • Opt for used parts and creative fabrication solutions to lower costs where possible.
  • Consider financing options like credit cards, personal loans, or pre-approvals through participating shops.

Final Words

Swapping an engine transforms a vehicle but requires major investments in parts and labor. Careful planning is key to keeping your engine conversion build on budget. While costs are significant, an engine swap opens up exciting new possibilities for your car’s performance and customization.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost in labor to replace an engine?

Labor for an Engine Swap Costs $4,000 to $10,000 on Average.

The bulk of the cost for an engine swap project goes towards paying an experienced mechanic or performance shop to handle the installation and modifications.

For a straightforward engine swap on a common platform, expect to spend around 40-80 hours on labor, billed at $50-150 per hour. That puts the total labor costs in the $4,000 to $10,000 range for parts removal, test fitting, assembly, wiring, and tuning.

More complex swaps with custom fabrication needs can accrue over 200 labor hours and cost $15,000 or more. The specific mechanic hourly rate and the project’s complexity are the biggest variables.

DIY engine swaps can reduce the labor expense, but still require expensive special tools, skills, research time, and expert guidance along the way. Leaving the work to professionals ensures the swap gets done right.

How much is a V12 engine swap?

Installing a V12 Typically Costs $60,000 to $100,000+.

Dropping a twin-turbo V12 into a custom exotic or high-end sports car represents the pinnacle of engine swaps. The engines alone demand hefty five- or six-figure price tags. Add another $15,000+ for top-quality performance parts to support the beastly motor.

Since exotic V12 engine swaps require extensive modifications and custom fabrication, plan on investing over 500 labor hours for a proper installation. At $100+ per hour for this elite work, labor fees alone will exceed $50,000.

Total costs for a complete V12 swap generally fall between $60,000 to $100,000. For well-funded dream builds, custom engine mounts, one-off adapter plates, upgraded drivetrains, and race-spec auxiliary components push the budget to $200,000 or beyond.

While out of reach for casual enthusiasts, these ultra-high-end swaps represent the pinnacle of automotive engineering and performance. The end result is a truly one-of-a-kind driving experience.

How much work is an engine swap?

Expect 80-200+ Labor Hours for a Complete Engine Swap Project.

Because an engine connects to so many supporting vehicle systems, replacing it requirescomprehensive mechanical work, fabrication, and troubleshooting.

On the low end, simple swaps like putting a crate V8 into an older muscle car take around 80-100 hours of shop time. The high end sees race-prepared, 1,000+ hp builds demanding 200-300 labor hours for custom parts manufacturing and meticulous assembly.

Virtually every component connected to the engine requires adaptation or replacement during a swap. Key tasks include:

  • Researching compatibility and acquiring specialty parts
  • Removal of original engine, fuel, and exhaust systems
  • Fabrication of new engine mounts and adapter plates
  • Installation of oil system, intake, headers, and drivetrain linkages
  • Rewiring or replacing the engine wiring harness and sensors
  • Refitting or upgrading fuel, cooling, and exhaust systems
  • Final assembly and leak checks
  • Dyno tuning and road testing

Inexperienced DIY mechanics often underestimate the effort an engine swap entails. Leaving the work to professional performance shops ensures you get a headache-free installation.

1 reply
  1. bobbi
    bobbi says:

    God said “Let There Be Miata”, and there was Miata, and it was good.

    Then god said “More Power~!” and there was LS engine transplant, and it was GREAT~!.


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