The difference between rebuilt and remanufactured engines

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An engine

Some people may not know there is a difference between rebuilt and remanufactured engines, but there is a significant one. Photo Credit: SFoskett/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

Occasionally, some people may be in the position to buy a car or supply a car with a rebuilt or remanufactured engine. The average person may not understand the distinction, but there are some differences to be aware of.

Why old engines stick around

Some people just don’t like new cars as much as some of the classics of yesteryear, and some people can’t afford the cost of a new car plus the insurance. Some people also don’t want to part with a car they have developed a relationship with but are faced with the fact that their aging auto needs a new engine. Others have project cars they are building from the ground up.

[Whether it is better to lease or buy car depends on one's circumstances]

People who fit those descriptions will occasionally come across used or classic cars with ads including the words “rebuilt” or “remanufactured” engines. People looking to install one will likewise see the same phrase. Those who don’t know that there is a difference might be confused, but it is all pretty basic.

OEM versus OEM spec

The party that built the engine is called the OEM or Original Equipment Manufacturer. The OEM designation goes for anything that is made, from refrigerators to cars, planes to complicated fountain pens. The original specifications, dimensions and tolerances in operation are called OEM specification.

The goal is to restore a motor to exact or close to OEM specification. Qualified firms can rebuild an engine; they have the technology. However, there are some differences people should know about.

According to CNN, one difference is the amount of work performed. In a rebuild, the technician inspects the motor and replaces the worn or damaged parts. It could simply need a new camshaft and that’s all that is replaced; the repair, as a blog post on Yahoo Voices points out, is done to the level of failure. What needs to be replaced to get the engine running in decent order again is what is done.

Practically a clone

A remanufacture is far more involved. A remanufacture, according to CNN, involves the complete dismantling of the donor engine and a thorough inspection for damage as well as an exhaustive cleaning. All parts are machined and restored to the original dimensions and specifications, to thousandths of an inch. According to eHow, many remanufactures require the work be done by the original manufacturer or shops certified by the manufacturer to be qualified.

Pros and cons

The benefit of a rebuild is that it is the cheaper option, typically. If the repair is simple enough, it may not make a difference. However, the rebuild quality depends on the individual doing it. If not done properly, or if there are other problems with the engine’s components, it will just wind up back in the shop. A remanufactured engine is practically a new motor; most come with warranties. A remanufactured engine is likely to be more reliable in the long run.

Sources

CNN

Yahoo

eHow

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