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What are Crate Engines?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 23, 2024
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Crate engines are replacement engines purchased new and complete, shipped in wooden crates. They can be standard or high performance engines and are often purchased when buyers do not want to rebuild existing engines, or when they want to upgrade to more powerful engines. These engines can be purchased in turnkey condition, ready to drop into the engine compartment and go. Conversely, one can opt to keep the existing fuel system, alternator, water pump or other accessories. In this case the engine is partially completed except for noted items. Crate engines come in a wide range of horsepower, up to 500hp and more.

Collectors of American classic "muscle cars" like the Camero, Mustang and GTO often replace original engines with high performance engines. Though rebuilding engines to spec by hand or assembling new engines part-by-part can result in more customized engines, crate engines will upgrade the vehicle while saving on time and trouble. This is especially convenient for those who lack the skills or connections to get a good engine built to spec at a decent price. These types of engines are especially popular with truck owners who want to upgrade an existing engine to something with a little more power for towing, playing offroad or working.

But crate engines aren't just for collectors and enthusiasts. Often vehicles are in perfectly good condition, except for their motors. Sometimes people opt to buy a new motor rather than go through the hassle and expense of buying a new car, especially if the vehicle is well liked. This extends the life of the car, allowing the owner to get more years out of their initial investment.

If you're looking to give new life to your imported car or truck, imported crate engines are also available, though rebuilds are more common. If opting for a rebuild, one top rebuilder with an online presence offers a 3-year unlimited mileage guarantee on rebuilt Japanese motors. This guarantee surpasses that of many crate engines.

Some vendors offer a discount for a core trade-in. If trading in a core — your old engine — note that most vendors have specific guidelines and restrictions. Cracked or damaged cores are normally not acceptable for credit.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By jawoxland — On Jul 18, 2007

How long does it take to put in a crate engine?

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