Even if you aren’t a mechanic, you know that a cracked engine block isn’t good. A cracked block is a major problem that can be extremely expensive to repair in some cases. So, how do you know if your block is cracked, and how much will it cost you? We are going to tell you everything that you need to know about it. We will cover both the causes and signs of a cracked engine block, your repair options, and how much they will set you back. Let’s dive in!
Symptoms Of A Cracked Engine Block
Do you think that you might have a cracked block? How do you know if your engine block is cracked? A qualified mechanic can tell you for sure after a proper diagnosis, but here are a few symptoms that you might notice. If you start to see any of these things, then you should have your car checked out right away to avoid further damage as much as possible.
When your engine block cracks, it can prevent the coolant in your car’s cooling system from circulating correctly. If that coolant is not correctly circulating, it will not remove the heat from your engine as it should, and the car will overheat. Overheating could also signal a bad radiator or thermostat, but it might be a cracked engine block. Never drive your car with the engine overheating, so go ahead and get it checked right away.
— Oil Leaks
Do you notice tiny drops of oil under your car when you park it in the driveway? Or even worse, do you see more enormous puddles underneath? If your block is cracked, oil might seep out of the crack and drip to the ground. While an oil leak could be a leaky seal or joint, it could also be a bigger problem like a cracked block.
— Coolant & Engine Oil Mixing
Your engine coolant or antifreeze and engine oil should never mix. The passageways inside your engine keep these two fluids separate from each other. If you experience a crack anywhere in the block, then these two fluids might mix. Look for dark or murky coolant in your overflow tank or milky and frothy oil on the dipstick. Either one of these is not a good sign, and it signals a good chance that you have a crack somewhere in the block or a blown head gasket under the cylinder heads.
— Smoke From Under The Hood
If you see white smoke coming from your engine bay, then have your car checked out. If oil is leaking from your block, then it’s going to produce smoke. As leaking oil drips onto hot exhaust parts or simply the outside of the block itself, it will start to smoke as it gets too hot. When you see engine smoke from the hood, there is a definite problem.
— Poor Performance
You might notice poor engine performance when you have a cracked block. Mainly if the crack is inside a cylinder wall, then your engine will start to lose compression. Low engine compression can lead to big engine problems, and your car will begin to run very poorly – if it runs at all! Waiting to address this can lead to bent or warped pistons or even complete engine failure.
Why Does An Engine Block Crack?
So, what causes an engine block to crack? It could be due to several different reasons. Overheating is one of the biggest causes of a cracked block. While the cast iron or aluminum used to make your block is strong, it is not meant to withstand excessive heat. When it gets too hot, it can begin to warp and crack in thinner spots. This is why it is imperative to regularly keep an eye on your temperature gauge, check your coolant level, and quickly address coolant leaking from your car’s engine.
Another cause of a cracked block is too much pressure inside the combustion chamber. This is often caused by aftermarket performance parts like a supercharger or turbocharger. When the pressure inside the cylinder builds, it might cause the block to crack when it gets too high.
Failure of other parts of the engine can also cause a cracked block if left unaddressed. For example, a faulty water pump will cause your engine to overheat quickly. Even if your water pump is functioning correctly, low coolant levels will cause the same result. Not performing proper oil changes can lead to block problems too. Eventually, the buildup will cause the crankshaft to create so much friction that it can crack the block. Most high mileage engine oils have special additives that help prevent this buildup and can help avoid block cracks.
How To Repair A Cracked Engine Block
Many people wonder how to fix a cracked engine block. Repairing a cracked block isn’t easy, and it should only be done by a qualified mechanic. One of the most common methods of repair is welding. The mechanic must remove and disassemble the engine to find the crack itself. He can then weld the crack together, grind it back smooth, and reassemble the engine.
Another option for repair is cold metal stitching. This is similar to welding, but it is done at cooler temperatures than welding. It is often performed when welding is not an option. Some argue that cold metal stitching is not as strong as welding, but it can prove to be a good option in some cases.
Finally, a block sealant can take care of the job, especially a minor crack. These sealants or epoxies can be placed into the oil filler neck of your vehicle so that you can perform this repair yourself. These sealers are also inexpensive, so they can be a good option if you need a cheap repair. However, their use is quite limited, and they will not fix a significant crack.
Cracked Block Repair Costs
So, how much is it going to cost you to repair your cracked block? Unfortunately, it will be quite a bit. Repairing a cracked block will typically cost somewhere between $1,000 to $3,000. In some cases, repair might not even be an option, and you might need a new engine instead. If engine replacement is required, then your bill will go even higher. In that case, you can expect to pay somewhere between $3,000 to $5,000. For newer cars with complex engines, your bill could be as high as $10,000!
The reason the bills are so high is due to the complexity of the repair. It takes a qualified mechanic 20 – 40 hours to perform this repair in most cases. If you have continued to drive your car and cause further damage, then you might need additional engine parts to be replaced in addition to the crack being repaired. In many cases, this problem is not even worth fixing in older cars. Many people choose to sell them for junk and buy a new car. Since scrap car prices are on the way up, this might be a good idea currently. You should always stop driving your car and let a mechanic check it out at the first sign of a crack in the block.
The Bottom Line
A cracked engine block can have significant consequences for your vehicle and your wallet. An engine block repair is one automotive job that you do not want to pay for as it is costly. If a block sealer doesn’t fix it, expect to shell out at least $1,000 for this repair. If you notice any common signs of a cracked block, stop driving your car until you can have it repaired.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it worth fixing a cracked engine block?
It depends on the age and value of your car. If your vehicle still has life left in it, then you should probably go ahead and repair it. However, if the car is old and has other problems, it is not worth the money to fix it. You would likely be better off selling the vehicle and buying yourself a new one in better condition.
Can you sell a car with a cracked engine block?
Most people will not buy a car with a cracked engine block. However, you can sell the car to a junkyard, auto salvage yard, or junk car removal service. Many of these businesses will make you an instant offer on your vehicle and come to you and pick it up. Even with a cracked block, you can usually always get a few hundred dollars for your vehicle.
Can you drive with a cracked engine block?
No, you cannot drive with a cracked block. While your car might technically go for a short period with a cracked block, it is dangerous for you and others on the road. Plus, you will do more damage to the vehicle, leading to an even higher repair bill. You can cause cracked heads, bent pistons, and more damage. Driving with a cracked engine block is never something that you should do.
What are the different types of engine blocks?
The most common type of engine block is cast iron. Nearly all vehicles had cast iron blocks until recently. However, now some cars have aluminum blocks. This is both for weight reduction and an increase in performance. Most high-performance cars have aluminum blocks. These two metals are some of the most durable and reliable out there. If these metals are so strong, how does an engine block crack? As previously mentioned, extreme temperatures and excessive pressure are typically the leading causes. Even though these metals are strong, blocks are relatively thin in some areas. The cracks usually occur in the lighter areas of the block.