Gearheads devote as much attention to engines as their fuel delivery, air intake and exhaust systems. Just like the other components, engines are worthwhile upgrade candidates. This guide reviews the basics on crate engines and what to consider with potential replacements.

Short Block and Long Block Engines: A Quick Overview

Crate engines come in two varieties: short block and long block. While they contain many of the same basic components, the two engine types differ in the number of parts they contain.

As implied by their name, short block engines are smaller than their long block cousins. Short block engineers only include the basics: a crankshaft plus connecting rods, bearings, pistons and rings. Some versions also include a camshaft, as well as a timing set, an oil pump and a pan. They do not include cylinder heads or any other components that normally appear above the engine block desk.

By comparison, most long block engines include everything that short blocks have plus cylinder heads, valve trains and camshafts. You may also find deluxe long block versions with valve covers, oil pans, timing covers, intake manifolds, water pumps, distributors and balancers.

Reasons to Upgrade Your Short Block

Now that you know a little about short and long block engines, it’s time to look at replacements. Whether you’re working with an intact block or not, replacing your block may be a wise idea. Without further ado, here are five worthy reasons to swap your old block for a newer version.

Your Original Block Cracked

If your engine block is cracked, you’re not going anywhere. Temperature extremes, especially overheating, are the most common causes of a cracked block. These extremes affect the metal’s structure, causing it to warp when it expands or contracts.

The Engine Block Is Defective

Occasionally, some engines may have manufacturing defects such as porous metal, bumps, cracks or scratches. While most are covered by automakers’ warranties, gearheads may wind up with older vehicles with their original defective engines. If you’re restoring one of these vehicle’s you’re going to need a new block — no exceptions?

Your Engine Has Collision Damage

Whether your own vehicle’s been in a collision or you’re restoring a secondhand street rod, you may be dealing with a block suffering from severe impacts. Extensive damage in these cases can’t be reliably repaired due to compromised structural integrity: You’re better off swapping it out.

Your Engine Is Old

Engine lifespans vary widely. Some older versions are like a certain battery-powered drum-playing rabbit: With proper maintenance, they just keep going. However, high-mileage wear is a thing. Eventually, fluids can mix and you could run into real problems. Replacing your engine may be your best.

You’re Rebuilding with Existing Components

If your existing block is shot but some of its components are in great shape, why reinvent the wheel? Instead, keep the working parts and buy a new block. This is an excellent option if you already have experience with rebuilds and have a limited budget.

When choosing a crate engine, it’s wise to evaluate your budget, needs and existing components. Whether you’re shopping for engines or exhaust parts, choose a reputable aftermarket supplier specializing in high-performance gear.

Author's Bio: 

Alex is a professional writer and digital marketing expert.