Whether or not to rebuild and repair or replace a diesel engine is a very common discussion in the diesel community. Many Powerstroke, Duramax, Cummins, and other diesel truck owners want to keep their trucks even after catastrophic engine failures which leads to the decision of whether to repair the engine or rebuild the engine. We’ve been around diesel engines for decades, and we might know a thing or two about them, so we’ll help you decide.
Here is what you’ll need to consider.
You cannot rebuild an engine without adequate tools, knowledge, and skills. And even though there are wizard diesel DIY mechanics out there, there’s still a lot more to rebuilding a blown diesel engine.
The first thing you’d want to consider is if you have the right tools for the job. There are many different unique tools manufacturers use to build engines and tools that those who specialize in rebuilding engines use. Unless you’re one or the other you most likely don’t have these tools. These are very specific measuring tools used to measure clearance, true level, and similar. You could use plastic gauges or spirit levels as alternatives, but that can easily lead to improper measurements.
For example, even the slightest mistake in measuring clearance can lead to poor clearance which can lead to loss of oil pressure, and once you lose oil pressure it’s back to square one with the rebuild. – Even if you successfully rebuild an engine this way, it’s probably not going to last longer than a few months, and at TrackTech, we just don’t believe in that; we believe in quality, perfection, and durability.
Let’s say that you either have all the necessary tools or you’re ready to buy them. Now it’s a matter of what condition is your engine in, is it even worth rebuilding the diesel? Of course, there are engine rebuild kits that will help you replace all the parts that commonly wear out, but what about machine-ing?
For example, over time the piston rings wear out the bore of the cylinder, making it wider. To properly rebuild an engine, you’d have to take the engine to a machine shop so they can return the cylinders to their true bore, find larger pistons, or find another solution, and the rabbit hole continues.
Lastly, you wouldn’t want an inexperienced heart surgeon performing heart surgery on you. Diesel engines are more than complex, so if you don’t have the experience and the knowledge, you could easily torque a few bolts improperly, miss a few measurements, etc. and once again, if that happens, it’s back to square one. And even if you are the most detail-oriented mechanic on earth, you still don’t have any insurance that the engine will last.
Replacing a blown diesel engine is usually the more cost-effective option. However, there are still scenarios when it might be a better idea, and a more cost-effective one, to rebuild a blown diesel engine.
There are a few engines out there that are highly desirable and therefore more expensive. Many of these engines aren’t even in production any longer, which further drives their value up. If you do have one of these engines under the hood of your diesel truck, rebuilding it wouldn’t be that bad of an idea. Of course, as long as you’re knowledgeable, skillful, and possess the necessary tools to rebuild or repair a diesel engine.
Another case scenario when you might want to rebuild a diesel engine is if you have a lot invested into it. High-performance diesel engines are hard to come by, and simply scrapping your modified engine for its stock counterpart doesn’t sound very appealing. Rebuilding and repairing it properly is definitely the better option.
Those are unique scenarios that not everyone can relate to, so what should you do if you’ve decided that rebuilding an engine isn’t worth the time, effort, and money?
There are a few valid options for a diesel engine replacement; a salvaged engine; a manufactured short block or a manufactured long block.
Salvage yard engine is essentially a Schrodinger’s cat, you might find a perfectly healthy engine, or you might find one that’s going to die within a year. After all, many people have had access to salvage yard engines, and they could’ve taken a few key parts, thrown something into the engine, or similar. This is the most cost-effective option, and if you’re feeling lucky it could turn out pretty well, but you have to be willing to gamble.
A manufactured long block is the engine block and cylinder head with the bottom and the top block already pretty much assembled. The only thing that you’ll have to do is move over a few parts from your old engine to the new one and it’s ready to go. This is the most expensive, and the middle-of-the-road option because not every part is going to be of the highest quality, so it might not last as long as you’d like it to.
Read about: Considerations when modifying your diesel truck
The best possible replacement option, as long as you know how to properly torque down a few studs, is a short block. A short block is the engine block itself with the bottom end assembly. You would just need the cylinder head and everything that goes with it. This is, in our opinion, the best option because it allows you to customize your engine either for performance, toughness, reliability, and/or longevity.
Instead of head bolts that usually come with an engine or a long block, you have the chance to make your new engine bulletproof by installing head studs. Aftermarket head studs are one of the best possible engine modifications you could do for performance, reliability, and durability.
Whether you opt for a long block or a short block, take a good look at the manufacturer’s warranty. How long are they willing to cover their engines, what happens if the long or the short block you bought blows up during that time, and if you’re the one who’s going to be paying for the repairs/replacement.
Head studs are an excellent performance-supporting, reliability, and durability modification for every engine. They’re beloved by owners of diesel trucks in particular because diesel motors sustain much more pressure every day than gasoline engines.
Aftermarket head studs are responsible for keeping the engine together, in one piece without any static parts moving, and properly sealing the engine block, the head gasket, and the cylinder head.
For example, the 6.0 Powerstroke or the 6.4 Powerstroke are known to be unreliable, but as soon as they’re “studded” they essentially become bulletproof. So, installing head studs in your brand new engine, or during the rebuild of your old engine, will ensure that you never blow that motor. Here are 6 benefits of aftermarket head studs if you’d like to learn more about them.
TrackTech’s goal is to create head studs and other fasteners, of the highest quality. We’ve roamed the earth in search of the strongest alloys, and once we found them, we created head studs that can withstand up to 240,000 psi worth of pressure. In comparison, regular head bolts can sustain up to 160,000 psi, while regular head studs can sustain about 200,000 worth of psi. If your goal is to make an engine that can never fall apart, take a look at our Powerstroke, Duramax, and Cummins parts
There are quite a few things that could prevent a blown diesel motor, and make it last even up to 1 million miles. If you’ve just bought, or hand-built, a new engine, this is what’ll make it indestructible.
Since diesel engines are more complex and delicate than their gasoline counterparts, they need more care. A regular maintenance schedule will help a diesel engine operate optimally, as well as make it much more reliable. Monitors and controllers are perfect for noticing issues before they even occur and nipping the problem in the bud. Those are just some of the examples of how to care for your diesel engine. Here’s a thorough explanation of what’ll make your diesel engine run smoothly, and reliable, for a long time.
Even for the most experienced mechanics, taking a motor out of the engine bay can take hours. Taking an engine apart, finding all of the issues, and properly putting everything back together can take months, especially if you have other responsibilities. In some cases, this is a valid option, but a short block manufactured by the experts who make a living from creating them and then modifying the rest of the engine the way you want to is, hands down, the best way to make a powerful and an indestructible engine.
Head studs, being the best modification for making an engine bulletproof, are basically essential for either a brand new or a rebuilt engine.
We invite you to sign up for our newsletter and learn more about head studs, as well as diesel motors in general.