Engine Rebuild / Replacement Options


 Ask Dave / Posted 3 years ago / 815 views


Question: Short story, my engine blew up and I am in need of a new engine, whether it be a short block or a full used engine. I’ve been quoted $37,000 by the CAT dealership and I’m looking for a lower-cost alternative because that is way out of line. I look forward to corresponding with you and seeing what we can do to reduce the costs of this replacement and get me back on the road towards retirement, rather than the road back towards another job so I can pay for this.

I appreciate your help.

Tom Patton

Phoenix AZ

Dave’s Answer: Lets start out by saying that a catastrophic engine failure with a CAT engine is very rare and usual results from lack of maintenance or other controllable issue.

Your $ 37,000 estimate is a starting point and will very likely open the door for much more money. I would suggest  that you do not let them tear down your engine because then you are stuck, and the motor home cannot be easily moved. I would them ask for a breakdown of repair parts and labor. What you will be getting is a rebuilt engine using mostly parts from your old engine. The quote is getting very close to the cost of a new Cat C-9 in the box.

Here is what I would suggest.

Ask them if you brought a good used engine, would they remove the failed engine and install the used engine in its place. That would  reduce the cost by half. You will need to start with the serial number of the failed engine to begin your search for a used replacement. Start with s/n prefix 9DG, this would be a good replacement that would be easy install without changes.

Another option may be a loaded short block (engine block with crankshaft, cam, pistons and main rod bearings.) This will cost  between $8,000. and $10,000. Or you could get a loaded head without injectors which will cost between $2,000 and $3,000. Additional costs would include a set of remaining injectors – $2,100; oil pan (22qt) – $1,200; and engine overhaul gasket set – $ 550. I don’t know what the shop rate is, but the time to build the engine is between 20 to 24 hours. You need to make sure this shop is setup to do an engine rebuild in a timely manner, many of them are.

Do not sign anything without first looking at other options and getting a clear price. One of our other Beaver owners signed what they thought was a repair quote at a CAT dealer in Eugene. What he really signed was a right to do repairs, the final cost ended up over $24,000. I had found him other options that he did not choose to go with. We could have saved him a lot of money.

Here is the first step: give the dealer a chance to counter with a price for less money. If they do not, then  remove the motorhome from their shop, because you are paying for for that bay you are taking up. Then we can work on plan B, finding a used running takeout replacement and work out a way to get it installed. Have you ever turned wrenches, maybe you can do it yourself with my help.


Tom chose to work with me and find a good used engine and a reasonable quote from a dealer for it’s installation. We did try to get a new quote from the CAT repair facility in Phoenix, we wanted them to come back with other options and a reduced cost. They were not interested. With my help, Tom was able to locate a  running engine that would match the failed engine spec’s. We did look at several engines and it was  quite a process to match up his Cat C-9 engine with the correct serial number and arrangement number, this had to include the correct Hp, the location of components, and proper engine re-gen on the exhaust system, among other things. Tom removed his motor home by tow truck to another location in Phoenix. He has  purchased a running takeout with 57,000 miles on it and no core charge. In addition we  got a firm quote for $ 20,000 for the install.

By working with us and the Ask Dave column on the BAC web site  Tom has saved over $ 20,000. He was smart to follow my advice and direction. He has been grateful for our help and has posted a thank you on the BAC Forum and has called and thanked me for the several hours I spent on the phone looking for his rebuilt engine.

We hope that other BAC members will take advantage of our Ask Dave website and the advice that Dave Atherton is so willing to give.


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Engine Failure

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