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View Full Version : Difficult swap, rebuild or replacement decision



Simonhla
05-14-2008, 01:16 AM
My beloved 1992 Celica recently had a few issues. In addition to needing a new air intake, idle control valve, engine mounts, tranny mounts and the labor associated with it, I found that I had a severe oil leak coming from the il pressure switch. After taking it out I discovered the head around the thread was badly cracked and in my infinite wisdom i poked at it. It crumbled. I tried to use JB Weld but to no avail and now I have discovered that the Head is bascially cracked (heat fatigue.....poor maintenance??) and is junk.

My mechanic...a friend (a guy i am almost certain is not taking me for a ride) says instead of putting money towards all of this it makes sense at this point just to do a rebuild or swap out a lower mileage engine. This makes sense to me as the engine has 150K on it. But I have a number of concerns:

1. I have a budget of around $2500 (possibly $3K max).
2. I found that the JDM 5sfe engine is not a 2.2L like mine, it is only a 2.0L. I am having a hard time accepting less power.
3. He has told me he can do a good rebuild for about $1500 (friend's pricing) but a Toyota specialist told me a good rebuild should be about $3k. So would this rebuild be junk?
4. I found a 3S-GTE JDM for $1,200. It has about 50K on it. This is the option that excites me most but I am concerned about the long term reliability of this. I have read the many, many threads regarding the swap and am not asking for details on that but I have read little about whether this is really a good idea if I want this car to run trouble free for the next 5 or 7 years like my 5s-fe did for the last 16.

I desperately need someone to help me rationalize this all. I am going in circles at this point. I don't want to put less power in the engine (JDM 3sfe masquerading as a 5sfe), I don't want to pay for a rebuild that will be junk (although I have every confidence in this guy) and although I love the idea of the 3SGTE swap I can't afford to be plagued with little problems down the road with tuning etc, not to mention tranny issues.

FYI I have no ability to do this myself and will be entirely reliant on my mechanic. I am looking to some of you senior Celica gurus to make sense of this for me. And getting rid of the car is not an option because I am VERY attached to it. I need to make a rapid decision as I am currently carless. Thank you in advance.

Amaymi
05-14-2008, 01:25 AM
Generally the reason the Toyota rebuild is going to cost you more is because of the higher labor rate, the prices for the parts are going to be grossly overpriced, and the simple fact that it is a dealership and they can charge more.
Before I became a tech at my local Toyota, I did a rebuild on my 3sfe for about $400 in parts and machining using a re-ring kit from my local auto machine shop.

Simonhla
05-14-2008, 01:28 AM
Ok thank you so much. Already I feel better. So his quote of around 1200 to 1500 seems totally feasible then.

Ideally if I am going to spend around 2K on the car I would rather rebuild my engine entirely and put some nice wheels on it (currently have stock 15/60/195's....uggh) but I love the idea of the 3s-gte swap. Any comments on it's reliability over the long term? i would certainly get a new tranny if i did it.

alltracman78
05-14-2008, 02:20 AM
Generally the reason the Toyota rebuild is going to cost you more is because of the higher labor rate, the prices for the parts are going to be grossly overpriced, and the simple fact that it is a dealership and they can charge more.
Before I became a tech at my local Toyota, I did a rebuild on my 3sfe for about $400 in parts and machining using a re-ring kit from my local auto machine shop.

At least in my area the labor is basically the same [within $10/hr] of other shops, with a good amount higher than the dealer.
And parts prices aren't as overpriced as many think.
Dealers generally mark up ~ %100, which is the same or less than most autoparts stores, the problem is the autoparts stores generally use cheaper parts, and don't have a middleman [Toyota].
An OEM gasket set shouldn't run much over $200, then you just need rings and bearings, assuming the rest of the engine is ok.
$3K sounds a bit on the expensive side, even at a dealer, unless that includes a brand new head.


An engine isn't the reliable way to go for a swap.
You're much better off getting a clip, this way everything you need is included.

Simonhla
05-14-2008, 02:31 AM
Well my Head is cracked and is junk. It needs a new head. I have been told a rebuild would be around $1200 plus labour by my friend. He is waiting for best quotes from the machine shop. I am looking into a full clip.

Thanks for all the replies......keep 'em coming.

Amaymi
05-14-2008, 04:16 AM
At least in my area the labor is basically the same [within $10/hr] of other shops, with a good amount higher than the dealer.And parts prices aren't as overpriced as many think.
Dealers generally mark up ~ %100, which is the same or less than most autoparts stores, the problem is the autoparts stores generally use cheaper parts, and don't have a middleman [Toyota].
An OEM gasket set shouldn't run much over $200, then you just need rings and bearings, assuming the rest of the engine is ok.
$3K sounds a bit on the expensive side, even at a dealer, unless that includes a brand new head.

Here the Toyota dealership I work at charges $75/hr and the average price of private shops is $55/hr. I would think that the Mitchell time for a motor pull and rebuild on his car would be around 16-20 hours. Thats over a $300 dollar difference. At that price labor itself would cost $1200 alone plus tax. If you add in the price of new/used head, gaskets, water pump, etc. all of which can get pretty expensive with our mark up. $3000 sounds a lot like what a rebuild would cost at my shop.

Simonhla
05-14-2008, 09:11 PM
Thank you all for your replies.

Despite the excitement I had about doing the 3S swap I have decided against it. I felt it had too much potential to rack up an unexpectedly high bill. My mechanic has assured me he can do the rebuild for a maximum of $2000 (giving me a major break on labour) and common sense tells me this is the right way to go. Well that, and my wife. For some odd reason the words "3S-GTE!!!!", "SWAP", "AWESOME POWER" didn't seem to resonate with her in the same way it did for me. Instead she picked up on those kill joys things such as "RELIABILITY" and "SENSIBLE" and "ECONOMY".

Silly women.

ciento44
05-14-2008, 10:09 PM
Dude.... in all honesty.... i would just pick up another cheap junkyard motor and put it in there, and then put the remainder towards a swap if those words resonate with you like that. :)

Chris
05-15-2008, 12:30 AM
Wasn't the 5sfe used all the way up till 99? You might be able to find a pretty decent motor in a wrecked camry or something. I'd almost trust that over a rebuild. But what do I know?

Nitro_Alltrac
05-15-2008, 01:31 AM
If you can find a later model 5sfe, that would probably be the best way to go. If the head on you engine is cracked and junked, there may well be more serious issues inside the engine that are going to run into more cash. Check around for a domestic 5s first to see what is actually available.

Simonhla
05-15-2008, 01:51 AM
Thanks. That is what I have been doing. But to be honest I have a lot of concerns about buying a used engine unseen. The best deal I have managed to find anywhere on a USDM 5SFE is $1150 for one with 56,000. Which I think is a total rip off. I found one for $895 but they couldn't be specific about the miles. I'm still searching but I need to get this back on the road soon. The tear down has already been started and unless a really good deal comesup on a replacement I'll just do the rebuild.