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LAST UPDATED: September 12, 2019

Best Crate Engines: Out with the Old and in with the New

Get your car back on the road with these reliable crate engines

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PUBLISHED ON September 12, 2019

If your vehicle’s engine is on its last legs, the repairs may be costly. However, you can choose to replace it entirely with a crate engine. These engines are shipped in a crate and are simple to install. They are used by those who don’t want to rebuild their old engines, as a hot rod enhancement, or in motorsports racing. Here are the best crate engines to consider if you want to swap out your old engine.

  • Best Overall
    Chevrolet Performance 6.2L LS3 Engine Crate GM
    Summary
    Summary
    This aggressive LS3 6.2L engine comes with an impressive 525 horsepower. That amount of power also gives you up to 6,200 rpm with 486 pounds of torque at 5,200 rpm.
    Pros
    Pros
    It features a hydraulic roller cam with a .525-inch lift on both sides, 226 degrees duration on the intake side, plus 236 degrees on the exhaust. The camshaft is designed with higher-rate valve springs.
    Cons
    Cons
    It will set you back a large amount of cash but will reward you with a high amount of power. It is also quite robust and extremely heavy, so you will need the correct tools and equipment to drop it into your vehicle.
  • Best Overall
    Chevrolet Performance 6.2L LS3 Engine Crate GM
  • Best Value
    Genuine GM 350i / 5.7L Gen 0 Engine
    Summary
    Summary
    This crate engine is capable of fitting into a wide selection of vehicles, such as cars, trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs. It’s equipped with 8.5:1 compression with a base horsepower of 195 that can be pushed to 260.
    Pros
    Pros
    The crate includes high-quality components, such as painted valve covers, oil pans, and timing covers. It is also made up of strong, durable, and reliable materials, including cast iron cylinder heads. The engine is also fitted with both left and right-hand dipstick.
    Cons
    Cons
    While it is a great replacement engine, it isn’t the most powerful. If you are installing it yourself, handle it with care. It may be durable and reliable, but a few of the components can be easily dented or bent.
  • Best Value
    Genuine GM 350i / 5.7L Gen 0 Engine
  • Honorable Mention
    Genuine GM Economy Performance Engine
    Summary
    Summary
    This small-block V8 crate engine is packed with 290 horsepower and up to 332 torque.
    Pros
    Pros
    You get a Camshaft lift at .450 intake and .460 exhaust plus a Camshaft duration at 050 at 222 degrees intake and exhaust. It has durable aluminum heads and a hydraulic camshaft. The material is topped with sturdy cast-iron cylinder heads that maintain a decent amount of airflow through the engine.
    Cons
    Cons
    It can be a pain to install, and you may end up having to make some modifications to your vehicle. It is also on the more expensive side.
  • Honorable Mention
    Genuine GM Economy Performance Engine

    If your vehicle’s engine is on its last legs, the repairs may be costly. However, you can choose to replace it entirely with a crate engine. These engines are shipped in a crate and are simple to install. They are used by those who don’t want to rebuild their old engines, as a hot rod enhancement, or in motorsports racing. Here are the best crate engines to consider if you want to swap out your old engine.

    Best Crate Engine Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    General Motors is well known for its creation of powerful vehicles, and its small-block crate engine design is no joke as a racing engine. This aggressive LS3 6.2L engine comes with an impressive 525 horsepower. That amount of power also gives you up to 6,200 rpm with 486 pounds of torque at 5,200 rpm.


    It features a hydraulic roller ASA camshaft with a .525-inch lift on both sides as well as 226 degrees duration on the intake side plus 236 degrees on the exhaust. To reinforce the camshaft, it is designed with higher-rate valve springs, making it more durable. All of this combines to give you a speedy and quick-starting fuel-injected engine.


    One of the major drawbacks with an engine of this stature is the price you have to pay for it. It will set you back a large amount of cash but will reward you with a high amount of power behind the wheel. It is also quite robust and extremely heavy, so you will need the correct tools and equipment to drop it into your vehicle.

    Best Value

    The Genuine GM crate engine is one of the top-rated replacement engines you can find. It is capable of fitting into a wide selection of vehicles, such as cars, trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs as well as high-performance hot rods. This brand-new engine is equipped with 8.5:1 compression with a base horsepower of 195 that can be pushed to 260, depending on the setup of your intake and injection.


    Several high-quality components are included in the crate, such as painted valve covers, oil pans, and timing covers. It is also made up of strong, durable, and reliable materials, including cast iron cylinder heads. As an extra bonus feature to make things more convenient, the engine is also fitted with both left and right-hand dipstick.


    While it is a great replacement engine, it isn’t the most powerful. You can boost the horsepower by enhancing the intake and injection setup, but you end up spending more cash. So, while you can put it in a hot rod racer, the base horsepower is on the lower end. If you are installing it yourself, handle it with care. While it is a durable and reliable engine, a few of the components can be easily dented or bent.

    Honorable Mention

    This small-block V8 crate engine is packed with a high amount of power and torque to get your car where it needs to go. It puts out around 290 horsepower and up to 332 torque when the pedal hits the metal. You also get a Camshaft lift at .450 intake and .460 exhaust plus a Camshaft duration at 050 at 222 degrees intake and exhaust.


    All that horsepower adds up to a whopping total of 5,100 rpm, while the torque gives you 3,750 rpm. The installation is easy and begins with a four-bolt main bearing block, durable aluminum pistons, and a hydraulic camshaft. On top of that, the material is topped with sturdy cast-iron cylinder heads that maintain a decent amount of airflow through the engine.


    However, it can be a pain to install. You may end up having to make some modifications to your vehicle to properly fit it inside and get it running. These can include replacing the manifolds or headers, but it can vary on the vehicle itself. It is also on the more expensive side, but that has to do with the V8 style and a large amount of horsepower.

    Honorable Mention

    This is a small-block Chevy engine for replacing the V8 motor in a GM van, truck, or SUV, model years 1987 to 1995. It is the long block version with two-bolt mains installation. The displacement is 350 cubic inches or 5.7 liters. The RPM power range is from idle to 5000. The motor yields up to 250 horsepower and the compression ratio is 9.6.1. 


    The engine is made from cast iron. Cylinder heads are included. The camshaft style is hydraulic flat tappet and the engine comes with a 36-month, unlimited mileage warranty.


    One purchaser discovered trouble with the camshaft on his engine. It was not installed properly and was not a new one. Also, the head bolts may not be new and could be mismatched. There have also been reports of these engines coming from a third party.

    Honorable Mention

    Use this crate engine to replace the engine in your 1996 to 2000 model year GM SUV, truck, or van. It’s the small-block Chevy Vortec motor at 350 cubic inch (5.7 liter) displacement. The engine produces up to 290 horsepower and 375 foot pounds of torque. It has a two-bolt main mounting and a one-piece rear main seal. 


    It also features a dipstick on the passenger side, an original equipment, reground cast iron crankshaft, and Vortec cast iron cylinder heads. The crate engine also includes valve covers, a timing set, timing cover, oil pan, oil pump and pick-up tube. 


    However, this engine does not come with an intake or exhaust gasket set. You must purchase these separately.

    Honorable Mention

    This is the small-block Chevy engine but as an entire kit. And it’s a dress-up kit. Use it to replace your worn engine in a pre-1986 GM vehicle, van, car, or truck. 


    You get the JEGS engine block, cast-iron cylinder heads; Edelbrock performance intake manifold, gaskets, and bolts; Edelbrock performance electric choke carburetor; 42,000-volt distributor coil, distributor; officially-licensed Chevrolet black-crinkle finish dress-up kit, and dipstick. The dress-up kit will set you apart from other GM vehicle owners as you create an attractive engine with beautiful components under the hood. The dress-up kit includes an air cleaner, valve covers, timing cover, and oil cap.


    This engine, however, is for older vehicles only (pre-1986).

    Honorable Mention

    This is a remanufactured engine. But the company, PROformance Powertrain, reverse engineers each motor in an effort to farm out original factory defects. Then they make improvements so this engine outlasts your previous engine and performs better. 


    The engine arrives with an oil pump and set of installation gaskets, unless noted. The company also includes important installation information in the paperwork or on tags on the engine itself.  This engine is made with quality OE-level parts and it comes in a sturdy, recyclable container. 


    Be aware that this motor produces about 190 horsepower, which may not be enough power for some people.

    Honorable Mention

    Use this engine to replace a tired, worn engine. The engine allows you to start with this economical production motor, then you can add your choice of power-adding accessories.


    It is a 5.7 liter, 350 cubic inch engine that fits in 1987-1995 light GM trucks (under 8,500 pounds). But, you can adjust it for use in many other small-block applications. It uses a late-style, one-piece rear main seal and the motor’s cylinder heads have center-style cover hold downs. Other details include a machined fuel pump (no hole for the fuel-pump push rod, though) and a gear-driven oil pump assembly. The motor develops 210 horsepower at 4,000 rpms. Torque is 300 foot pounds at 2,800 rpms. It has a cast-iron block, one-piece rear seal, two-bolt main caps, and a one-piece nodular crankshaft. Compression ratio is 9.4 to1.


    Note that this engine cannot be used in marine applications.

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    Benefits of Crate Engine

    • Extend your vehicle’s lifespan. Replacing your old, worn-out engine will improve the lifespan of your vehicle. An engine with thousands of miles on it can start to drain and wear down other components of the car. A new crate engine allows everything to function at maximum efficiency.
    • Improve fuel mileage. The best crate engine will improve key engine components, making your vehicle run more smoothly and efficiently. This may also increase the fuel mileage of your vehicle, so you’ll spend more time on the road.
    • Increase in safety. Your car’s engine is one of the most essential parts of your vehicle. Making sure it is in the best shape will keep you safe on the road. Replacing a worn-out engine with a crate engine will lower the chances of any breakdowns.
    • Save money. Swapping out your engine is one way to save you cash. Driving on a faulty engine can lose you hundreds if not thousands of dollars on constant repairs. Replacing it with a crate engine will set you back one payment instead of several.

    Types of Crate Engines

    Remanufactured

    A remanufactured crate engine is one that is sent back to the original manufacturer for repairs. The company removes all the malfunctioning parts and replaces them with a combination of new, reused, and repaired equipment to maximize the engine’s performance. The engine is designed to function as closely to the original engine specifications as possible. 

    Rebuilt

    A rebuilt crate engine is one that is completely gutted of worn-out, damaged, or old parts and constructed with brand new ones. This improves the overall performance and reliability of the engine. Every upgraded part is matched with the OEM ones to ensure every piece of equipment matches the previous parts.

    Used

    A used crate engine is pretty self-explanatory, as it has experienced a lot of use in other vehicles or been exposed to a lot of mileage. They are the best engine for anyone working on a budget; however, you do run the risk of it failing. 

    New

    A new crate engine has never been used, and you get to pick and choose the exact specifications and configurations you want. You know your vehicle best, so you get to select an engine that performs exactly as you need it to. The downside is that they will generally be more expensive and have higher insurance and tax rates.

    Top Brands

    GM Performance Parts

    Based out of Green Bay, Wis., GM Performance Parts builds and designs a number of products for vehicles. The company focuses on manufacturing transmissions, drivetrains, accessories, and both big-block and small-block crate engines. One of its most popular engines is the Genuine GM 350i / 5.7L Gen 0 Engine.

    CFR Performance

    As one of the top suppliers and distributors of car and truck accessories, CFR Performance has been in business since the late 1970s. With its headquarters in Ontario, Canada, the company builds crate engines, including the Compatible/Replacement for Chevy Small Block Engine.

    General Motors

    Formed in 1908, General Motors is one of the most popular and well-known names in the world of motorsports. The company’s central location is in Detroit, Mich., and it makes a number of vehicle accessories and parts, including the Chevrolet Performance 6.2L LS3 Engine Crate GM.

    Crate Engine Pricing

    • Under $2,000: You will find smaller block engines with a lower amount of horsepower in this price range. They are generally used for quick replacements to get a vehicle in working order and are not built for power or speed.
    • Over $2,000: This is the price range you will typically be looking at if you need to replace your engine. These crate engines include beefier models with higher horsepower and more cylinders.

    Key Features

    Compatibility

    You’ll want to make sure the crate engine is compatible with your vehicle. If you are looking to outright replace the engine with a similar model, ensure it has the same number of cylinders and power. If you get one that is too large or robust, it may not fit your vehicle. 

    Materials

    To get the best-rated crate engine for your car, you’ll want to look for one that is made up of strong and durable components. After all, it is the most essential part of making sure your car runs, so it needs to have long-lasting components.

    Horsepower

    If you want to replace the engine to enhance its power and torque, consider finding one with a high amount of horsepower. While you can always increase this number later by adding other components, choosing more horsepower gives your ride an extra boost.

    Other Considerations

    • Additional Parts: If you are doing a full engine swap, consider also changing out other engine components, such as the rotating assembly and head caskets, the camshaft, intake manifold, and the carburetor.

    Best Crate Engine Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    General Motors is well known for its creation of powerful vehicles, and its small-block crate engine design is no joke as a racing engine. This aggressive LS3 6.2L engine comes with an impressive 525 horsepower. That amount of power also gives you up to 6,200 rpm with 486 pounds of torque at 5,200 rpm.


    It features a hydraulic roller ASA camshaft with a .525-inch lift on both sides as well as 226 degrees duration on the intake side plus 236 degrees on the exhaust. To reinforce the camshaft, it is designed with higher-rate valve springs, making it more durable. All of this combines to give you a speedy and quick-starting fuel-injected engine.


    One of the major drawbacks with an engine of this stature is the price you have to pay for it. It will set you back a large amount of cash but will reward you with a high amount of power behind the wheel. It is also quite robust and extremely heavy, so you will need the correct tools and equipment to drop it into your vehicle.

    Best Value

    The Genuine GM crate engine is one of the top-rated replacement engines you can find. It is capable of fitting into a wide selection of vehicles, such as cars, trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs as well as high-performance hot rods. This brand-new engine is equipped with 8.5:1 compression with a base horsepower of 195 that can be pushed to 260, depending on the setup of your intake and injection.


    Several high-quality components are included in the crate, such as painted valve covers, oil pans, and timing covers. It is also made up of strong, durable, and reliable materials, including cast iron cylinder heads. As an extra bonus feature to make things more convenient, the engine is also fitted with both left and right-hand dipstick.


    While it is a great replacement engine, it isn’t the most powerful. You can boost the horsepower by enhancing the intake and injection setup, but you end up spending more cash. So, while you can put it in a hot rod racer, the base horsepower is on the lower end. If you are installing it yourself, handle it with care. While it is a durable and reliable engine, a few of the components can be easily dented or bent.

    Honorable Mention

    This small-block V8 crate engine is packed with a high amount of power and torque to get your car where it needs to go. It puts out around 290 horsepower and up to 332 torque when the pedal hits the metal. You also get a Camshaft lift at .450 intake and .460 exhaust plus a Camshaft duration at 050 at 222 degrees intake and exhaust.


    All that horsepower adds up to a whopping total of 5,100 rpm, while the torque gives you 3,750 rpm. The installation is easy and begins with a four-bolt main bearing block, durable aluminum pistons, and a hydraulic camshaft. On top of that, the material is topped with sturdy cast-iron cylinder heads that maintain a decent amount of airflow through the engine.


    However, it can be a pain to install. You may end up having to make some modifications to your vehicle to properly fit it inside and get it running. These can include replacing the manifolds or headers, but it can vary on the vehicle itself. It is also on the more expensive side, but that has to do with the V8 style and a large amount of horsepower.

    Honorable Mention

    This is a small-block Chevy engine for replacing the V8 motor in a GM van, truck, or SUV, model years 1987 to 1995. It is the long block version with two-bolt mains installation. The displacement is 350 cubic inches or 5.7 liters. The RPM power range is from idle to 5000. The motor yields up to 250 horsepower and the compression ratio is 9.6.1. 


    The engine is made from cast iron. Cylinder heads are included. The camshaft style is hydraulic flat tappet and the engine comes with a 36-month, unlimited mileage warranty.


    One purchaser discovered trouble with the camshaft on his engine. It was not installed properly and was not a new one. Also, the head bolts may not be new and could be mismatched. There have also been reports of these engines coming from a third party.

    Honorable Mention

    Use this crate engine to replace the engine in your 1996 to 2000 model year GM SUV, truck, or van. It’s the small-block Chevy Vortec motor at 350 cubic inch (5.7 liter) displacement. The engine produces up to 290 horsepower and 375 foot pounds of torque. It has a two-bolt main mounting and a one-piece rear main seal. 


    It also features a dipstick on the passenger side, an original equipment, reground cast iron crankshaft, and Vortec cast iron cylinder heads. The crate engine also includes valve covers, a timing set, timing cover, oil pan, oil pump and pick-up tube. 


    However, this engine does not come with an intake or exhaust gasket set. You must purchase these separately.

    Honorable Mention

    This is the small-block Chevy engine but as an entire kit. And it’s a dress-up kit. Use it to replace your worn engine in a pre-1986 GM vehicle, van, car, or truck. 


    You get the JEGS engine block, cast-iron cylinder heads; Edelbrock performance intake manifold, gaskets, and bolts; Edelbrock performance electric choke carburetor; 42,000-volt distributor coil, distributor; officially-licensed Chevrolet black-crinkle finish dress-up kit, and dipstick. The dress-up kit will set you apart from other GM vehicle owners as you create an attractive engine with beautiful components under the hood. The dress-up kit includes an air cleaner, valve covers, timing cover, and oil cap.


    This engine, however, is for older vehicles only (pre-1986).

    Honorable Mention

    This is a remanufactured engine. But the company, PROformance Powertrain, reverse engineers each motor in an effort to farm out original factory defects. Then they make improvements so this engine outlasts your previous engine and performs better. 


    The engine arrives with an oil pump and set of installation gaskets, unless noted. The company also includes important installation information in the paperwork or on tags on the engine itself.  This engine is made with quality OE-level parts and it comes in a sturdy, recyclable container. 


    Be aware that this motor produces about 190 horsepower, which may not be enough power for some people.

    Honorable Mention

    Use this engine to replace a tired, worn engine. The engine allows you to start with this economical production motor, then you can add your choice of power-adding accessories.


    It is a 5.7 liter, 350 cubic inch engine that fits in 1987-1995 light GM trucks (under 8,500 pounds). But, you can adjust it for use in many other small-block applications. It uses a late-style, one-piece rear main seal and the motor’s cylinder heads have center-style cover hold downs. Other details include a machined fuel pump (no hole for the fuel-pump push rod, though) and a gear-driven oil pump assembly. The motor develops 210 horsepower at 4,000 rpms. Torque is 300 foot pounds at 2,800 rpms. It has a cast-iron block, one-piece rear seal, two-bolt main caps, and a one-piece nodular crankshaft. Compression ratio is 9.4 to1.


    Note that this engine cannot be used in marine applications.

    Tips

    • Make sure you have the proper tools and equipment to install a crate engine. You will need an engine hoist to properly and effectively load it into the engine compartment.
    • Crate engines are fully assembled but many, like long blocks, may not come with internal components, such as a fuel system, electrical system, an intake, or exhaust system. However, you can find several engines with a carburetor, plugs, plug wires, a distributor, air intake, harmonic balancer, fan, starter, wiring harness, exhaust manifold, water pump, and an alternator.
    • If you are replacing a small block engine with a big block crate engine, you may have to make modifications for it to fit. This can be anything from replacing the stock frame to cutting the inner fender and shock towers.

    FAQs

    Q: How do I determine what crate engine is best?

    A: It depends on the style of driving you do and the car you are fitting it into. If the vehicle is your daily driver, then consider matching the replacement engine as close to your original one as possible. If you plan on racing, choose one with more power and torque.

    Q: How do I install a replacement crate engine?

    A: While crate engines are designed to be somewhat simple to install, they can be difficult if you aren’t familiar with them. The best way to make sure everything is installed properly is to check with the manufacturer. They should have a guide on how to replace and swap out a specific engine.

    Q: Do I need to replace everything connected to the engine?

    A: If you are just swapping out the engine block, then you should be able to reconnect everything to the new one. However, make sure the old components function properly as well.

    Final Thoughts

    If you need to replace your worn-out engine with one of the best available, consider the powerful and reliable Chevrolet Performance 6.2L LS3 Engine CrateGM. However, if you need an engine focused more on getting you back on the road, check out the Genuine GM 350i / 5.7L Gen 0 Engine.