Top 5 Tips for Replacing a Short Block Crate Engine

Installing a crate engine is a great way to refresh or even upgrade an older car’s performance. They give you a full fresh start and often cost the same as an engine rebuild, sometimes even a little less. There are a few things to know before you get to work putting a new engine into your project car, though.

1. Build a Complete Tool and Part List

Some crate engines have more complete installation kits than others, but they all still require additional parts before you can get them up and running. From starter plates and transmissions to intake manifolds and exhaust systems, you need to inventory what comes in your crate, then order the additional parts you will need. If you’re installing the crate in a car with all these components, you still need to check fitment and order the tools or parts to make everything come together on the day you install your short block engine.

2. Video Guides Are Your Friend

It’s often easier to perform an installation after you see it done, and with today’s accessible automotive tutorials, you can watch through the next couple steps repeatedly, keeping an open tab to rewind and view specific moments in the procedure as needed while you work. That helps you make sure you get it right the first time on every step of the installation.

3. Use a Recommended Start-Up Procedure

There are recommended procedures for starting crate engines generally that you can consult, but some manufacturers also have specific instructions about their own hardware. Chevy crate engines are known to come with a published start-up process for the first time you get them working. that means setting the timing, priming the oil, and thoroughly preparing the engine then double-checking your work.

4. Use Standard Break-in Processes

Starting up an engine for the first time means more than just getting it started. There are hours-long processes for breaking in new cam shafts and new engines for a reason, and it’s a good idea to consult them when you get ready to start your new engine for the first time. A few hours of controlled break-in could make your first long drive a lot smoother.

5. Upgrade Your Handling

Introducing a powerful new engine means changing the way your car drives and handles. If you haven’t prepared for the change by upgrading your tires, brakes, and other safety system components, it is a good idea to do it while you’re installing the engine or shortly after. You can’t really enjoy the full potential of an engine power upgrade if you don’t have the traction and control to push its limits, after all.

Additional Upgrades To Consider

Putting in a new engine is a big job, especially if you need to upgrade additional parts like your tires and brakes with the new engine. It’s not the end of the road for performance, though. From here, you might want to consider an EFI conversion kit if you drive an older carburetor-based vehicle, or perhaps an electric exhaust cutout. There’s always something you can do to push yourself and your vehicle’s performance.