Remanufactured Engines vs All New Replacements - Pros and Cons

If you're reading this, it’s probably because catastrophic engine failure left you stranded. When you were towed to the shop, you were probably given two choices: sell your broken down vehicle for scrap, or buy a new engine.

Reman 5.3L Engine

For many, scrapping a car isn't an option. The down payment and extra monthly commitment simply don't fit into the budget. This leaves purchasing a replacement engine - either a new replacement engine or a "reman" (remanufactured) unit. What to do - is a reman engine OK, or is new replacement the only way to go?

We'll break down the pros and cons.

First, What’s the Difference?

Simply put, new engines are…well, new. Every component is fresh off the assembly line, and the engine looks and performs like that of a new car.

Remanufactured, or reman, GM engines, are designed to be as good as new at a substantially reduced price. This is because a remanufactured engine uses a combination of new and recycled parts. Basically:

  • Old engines (which may have a serious problem) are disassembled. Any obviously damaged or broken parts are scrapped.
  • All the remaining components – including the heads, the block, the crankshaft, camshafts, rods, pistons, water pump, etc. - are carefully inspected
  • Inspections are comprehensive - engine blocks and cylinder heads are x-rayed, pistons are measured with micrometers - so that any and all issues not viewable by the naked eye are caught

All the parts that pass the inspection process are used to make "new" engines, along with new bearings, piston rings, etc. When the reman process is complete, the completed engine is tested to ensure the highest quality.

New Replacement vs. Reman Engine Cost

The most obvious difference between new and reman engines is the cost. A new engine uses all new parts including an engine block, crankshaft, cylinder heads, connecting rods, camshaft, pistons, and valves. Because of this, a new engine will cost considerably more than a reman engine.

A reman engine uses parts from previous engines. When an engine fails, many of the components can still be used. It’s these parts that are cleaned up and remanufactured into a new engine. Since these parts are basically free (damaged engines have a very low "core" value), most of what you're paying for when you buy a remanufactured engine is a handful of new parts and a thorough inspection.

For all the reasons given, remanufactured engines are considerably less expensive than new engines.

New Replacement vs Reman - Warranty and Performance

Because remanufactured engines employ used parts, they usually come with an extended warranty. This doesn't mean anything will go wrong with the engine, but it offers additional assurance that you're getting a quality product that GM believes in.

As for performance, the average consumer will not be able to tell the difference between a remanufactured engine and a new engine. Both will run smooth with a fresh-off-the-lot feel.

However, if you’re the racing type, remanufactured engines might not be for you. Racing puts substantial stress on engines, and used parts are that much more likely to fail in racing situations.

What About Used Engines?

Reman 2.2L Engine

Used engines are not the same as remanufactured engines. A used engine is usually pulled from a vehicle that's been scrapped - a wrecked car, a vehicle with flood damage, etc. Sometimes, a used engine is a great deal. If the previous owner was good to their engine, and the vehicle was scrapped due to a car accident that didn't damage the engine, you might have a great experience.

But often times, you can't determine if a used engine was in a flood, how the previous owner took care of it, or even how long the engine has been sitting in a junkyard.

Unless you simply can't afford to buy a remanufactured engine, we do not recommend buying a used engine. It's very much a roll of the dice. Considering how expensive engine replacements are (hours and hours of labor), it's not something you want to do twice. A reman engine is a safer choice.

What About Rebuilt Engines?

When shopping online, you might see a “rebuilt” engine available alongside other options. While the price tag is inviting, we advise you to stay away from a rebuilt engine as it's not the same thing as a reman engine.

Remanufactured engines are built to be as close to new as possible and are rigorously tested to ensure their viability. Rebuilt engines are reconditioned by replacing only the worn or broken parts. Serviceable pieces are then reused if they fit within the manufacturer’s wear limits, and the quality varies from rebuilder to rebuilder.

Also, most engine rebuilders do not go to the same lengths as remanufacturers do in terms of inspection. Checking an engine block for microfractures is something that remanufacturers do, but most rebuilders to not.

Remanufactured: Better than New?

Because of the way remanufactured parts are sourced, they are often a better deal than new parts:

  • Remanufactured engines are built from parts sourced from broken down engines
  • All the parts are carefully inspected before they are used in new assemblies
  • Many of the bearings are replaced in a remanufactured engine, as are seals and other wearables
  • The engine is assembled in the same type of facility that builds new engines
  • When it's all done, a remanufactured engine comes with a substantial warranty

Considering the excellent pricing, the rigorous testing and assembly standards, and the warranty, it's hard to argue against remanufactured engines. Unless you're racing, reman is probably the way to go.

If you’re interested in learning more about reman engines, call now speak with one of our GM parts experts.