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If you’ve decided to do an engine replacement, you’ve come to the right place! But where to begin? Knowing what you need vs what you don’t need is a good place to start. 

Though often done by professionals, engine swaps are fixtures in the DIY community. In that spirit, here are three areas to consider before swapping your engine: The engine, equipment, and skills.

1: The Engine

What You Need 

The first thing you need for your engine replacement is the engine. More specifically, you need to know where you can find one. There are several places online and in person where you can find one, but we’ve found that does the job well. On this website, you can search for the type of engine you’re looking for, and it will direct you to an auto parts dealer in your area that can sell it to you. We found our engine on and were able to get it at a reasonable price from a local parts dealer in our area.  

What You Don’t Need

An engine hoist or crane: Most vehicle garages find engine hoists invaluable. They come in electric, hydraulic, and chain options. These expensive beasts are huge, with  lifting capaciities of ½ to 8 tons. It would be difficult to fit both one of these behemoths and your car in a tiny garage. Not to mention the security factor: who wants to risk a giant car falling on their head? 

Some cars are manufactured to remove the engine from underneath the body. This clever design removes the need for an engine crane. 

2: The Equipment

What You Need

As far as tools go, you may already have most of the tools you need. Along with traditional tools, like ratchets, wrenches and pry bars, you’ll need a few bigger tools. The ones we used are an engine lift, an engine stand, and a lift table, which you can find at your local Harbor Freight. Having a service manual for your car is also a great help. We completed our engine swap using a genuine service manual—and also recorded the whole process for you to follow along.  

What You Don’t Need

A commercial garage: You don’t need a mechanic’s garage to complete an engine swap. Just like you don’t need an engine hoist, you don’t need all the space of an auto shop. A tiny garage is all you need. You don’t need the noise, the traffic, or the distractions of a shop. Nor do you need the unsolicited advice of everyone in the building. 

3: Skills/Experience

What You Need

Of course, there are skills you need to know before you can start your engine replacement. But, in fact, this job isn’t as daunting as it may seem. If you know how to change your oil, you’re already on the right pathChanging your own oil is a great stepping stone to the bigger job. It‘s more involved than checking your fluid levels and keeping air in your tiresbut not an overwhelming task. If you can take care of the oil changes in your car, you can learn how to tackle a more difficult repair—swapping your engine. 

What You Don’t Need

A mechanic can bring peace of mind. He’s an expert, after all. But you don’t need one to complete your engine swap. A mechanic charges labor by the hour. Your engine replacement is already susceptible to cost overruns without the cost of labor thrown in. And, despite his expertise, a mechanic won’t fix any extra problems without your telling him to and authorizing the added price. This is a tough job, but not overwhelming. If you can change your oil, you can learn to swap your engine. We can help. 

You Can Replace That Engine

Now that you have a better idea of what you need for your engine replacement, you are ready to start. The confidence that comes from preparation can’t be faked. Now that you’re ready to swap your engine, you can plunge in with this introduction.