How to Install a New Crate Engine

  • 16-30 hours
  • Advanced
  • 3,500-6,000
What You'll Need
Crate engine
Engine hoist
Jack and stands
Drain pans
Work lights
Socket wrench set
Crescent wrench
Rubber mallet
Penetrating lubricant
Digital Camera

A new crate engine is a standalone engine block that is sold without a drive train or any other functional car parts. It is used as an aftermarket upgrade or as a replacement for a discontinued engine model. It is also referred to as an engine-in-a-box. If you are working on a custom car kit or project, ordering a crate engine spares you the immense burden of building an engine from scratch. Replacing an engine is a complex task which requires sophisticated equipment.

Step 1 - Choose Crate Engine

Choose the engine that meets your needs in terms of size or power. Decide between a carburetor or fuel injector. If the engine has not been dyno-tested, you will need to break it in yourself.

Step 2 - Pull Old Engine

Begin by unbolting the hood and removing it. Disconnect the ground cable on the battery. Drain the radiator, then remove it and the fan. Disconnect the air and fuel supply lines. Unbolt the air conditioner and power steering hoses but don't disconnect them. Remove all wiring from the motor and disconnect the exhaust manifold. Unbolt the connections to the transmission, then jack up the car. Remove the exhaust pipe. Brace the transmission with a jack stand and finish unfastening it. Unbolt the motor mounts. Finally, lower the jack stand and remove the old engine with the hoist. Taking pictures as you go will make it easier to reassemble later.

Step 3 - Prepare for New Engine Installation

Inspect the new engine for any damage that might have occurred during shipping. Check the oil pan for metal shavings. Add oil to the filter and crankcase. Lubricate the inside of the engine by rotating the oil pump shaft with a drill motor. Pull the valve covers to check the flow onto the rocker arms. Check the spark plug timing at the distributor cap. Verify that all of your old hoses, manifolds, and brackets will fit the new equipment. Fabricate or purchase new components as necessary. If necessary, resize the carburetor jets to match the engine displacement.

Step 4 - Drop Engine

Keep the engine level while lowering it into place with the hoist. Fasten it to the mounting brackets and reconnect all the hoses, pipes, and wires. Reinstall the radiator and hood. Keep heat-sensitive components away from the exhaust headers.

Step 5 - Break in Engine

With the car on the ground, shift to park or neutral. Set the emergency brake and chock the wheels. Turn the ignition. If the engine doesn't start, check the fuel delivery system. If the engine starts, rev it to 2000 rpm to get oil on the camshaft. Run the engine at various speeds between 1800 and 2500 rpm for approximately 20 minutes to break it in. Pull the radiator cap to check for adequate flow or leaks before it gets too hot. Check that the battery is charging. Take the car for a drive! Change the oil and filter after 50 to 100 miles.