What’s The Difference Between A Long Block And A Short Block Engine?

A long block engine includes more parts and is easier to install, but a short block engine is cheaper.
Written by Patrick Price
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
If you need to buy a new aftermarket engine, you’ll typically want a long block engine or a short block engine. The difference between the two lies largely in the length of their warranties and the total list of components that they included. 
Don’t be fooled by the names—long block and short block engines are generally about the same size. The difference mainly lies in what parts are included. A short block engine typically includes the engine block, crank, and pistons. A long block engine, on the other hand, usually comes with the engine block, crank, pistons, a cylinder head, a camshaft, and a valve train.
You’ll also have the option to purchase a deluxe engine block. This is less common, though, as it can be rather expensive. 
You’ll need to understand a bit more about the two options when deciding which one is right for you. That’s why
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—has compiled this comprehensive guide with all the relevant information about the difference between long block and short block engines.
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What is a short block engine?

A short block engine is the cheapest type of engine block, and it includes the fewest components. Because of this, buying a short block engine will require you to buy the most additional equipment. This, in turn, makes it the most difficult type to assemble and install. 
The list of components included in a short block engine will vary depending on the company with whom you’re dealing. In general, though, a short block engine will come with the following parts: 
  • Cylinder block
  • Crankshaft
  • Pistons
  • Connecting rods
Some short block engines may also come with a camshaft and timing gear, but this is not standard. 

Pros and Cons of a short block

Like every type of engine block, a short block engine has its advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a quick overview of each:
  • Less expensive 
  • Greater ability to customize which parts go into the final engine 
  • Great opportunity to learn about engine assembly
  • Requires more separately bought components to build an entire engine
  • Requires more work and knowhow 
  • More difficult to assemble/install
  • Typically has shorter warranties 

What is a long block engine?

The next step up from a short block is a long block engine. Long block engines get their name from their longer list of included components and longer warranties. In general, long block engines are more complete and more convenient than short blocks. 
Like short blocks, the components in long blocks will vary slightly depending on the one that you buy. Most long engine blocks will include the following components:
  • Cylinder block
  • Crankshaft
  • Pistons
  • Connecting rods
  • Camshaft
  • Lifters
  • Valve-train
  • Cylinder head
Some long block engines will even include an oil pan, water pump, and valve covers.
Of course, these advantages come with a higher price tag—long block engines will usually be significantly more expensive. If you can afford one, a long block engine is often a better choice. 
Keep in mind that despite their more inclusive list of components, long block engines are still not entirely complete. A long block will still not include things like a fuel system, exhaust manifolds, intake manifold, or electrical components
Key takeaway Though more expensive, a long block engine includes more parts than a short block engine.

Pros and cons of a long block

Here’s a brief look at the advantages and disadvantages of buying a long block engine:
  • Includes more parts
  • Better balanced and coordinated system–since the components are designed to work with each other
  • Less work to install
  • Requires less knowledge of engines
  • Typically will have a longer warranty 
  • More expensive
  • Less freedom to choose specific components
MORE: How to find the engine and chassis number

What is a crate engine?

When searching for the right engine, you’ll likely hear the term “crate engine”. This term can cause shoppers some confusion since different people have different definitions for it. 
Traditionally, the term crate engine has referred to a replacement engine that is fully assembled when it is shipped out. This means you can simply install the engine and be good to go. You’ll also hear this called a “plug-and-play” engine or a “turn-key” engine. 
Some people, however, will use the term crate engine to refer to any aftermarket manufacturer-built replacement engine—regardless of whether it is fully assembled or not. 
Most long and short block engines do not come fully assembled. If the one you buy is described as a crate engine, it’s important to clarify which definition is being used—that way you’ll know how much assembly will be required. 
Key Takeaway A crate engine refers to an engine that has been fully assembled, so it’s not typical that a long block or short block engine falls in this category. 

Cost of a long block engine vs. a short block engine

The cost of engine replacements will vary quite a bit based on the type and quality of the engine in question. On average, a long block engine will cost about $3,000-$4,000. Whereas the average short block engine will cost around $1,000-$3,000.
Upfront, a long block engine is going to be more expensive since it includes more parts. However, going with a short block engine is not always going to be cheaper—it depends on how extensive of an engine replacement you need. 
If you’re going to be replacing virtually the entire engine, then you’ll need to purchase numerous separate parts in addition to a short block. The cost of these parts can quickly add up. 
If you need a very extensive engine replacement, a long block engine might end up being cheaper in the long run. 

Warranties of a long block engine vs. a short block engine

If you buy a long block engine, it will usually come with a longer-lasting and more comprehensive warranty than those included with short block engines. 
If you buy a short block engine, the warranty won’t cover any separate parts you bought outside of the engine block. Short block engines also can have shorter life spans since the parts are not necessarily designed to go together and the various components will not come already balanced and calibrated to one another. 

Do I need a long block engine or a short block engine?

Whether you should buy a long or a short block engine depends on your budget, how much time you’re willing to spend assembling the engine, your knowledge of engines, and how extensive of an engine overhaul you need. 
If you’re going to need a near-total engine overhaul, you should probably go with a long block engine. This will be easier and more convenient. It also may end up saving you money in the long run as you won’t have to purchase as many separate components.
Long block engines are also the better option for car owners with limited working knowledge of engine assembly. 
If, however, there are numerous parts in your old engine that still function—and if you’re on a tight budget—you might consider buying a short block engine. 

Does having an aftermarket engine affect my car insurance? 

Usually, swapping out your engine
will affect your car insurance premiums
. Your car insurance company will consider this a significant modification, and most car insurance companies charge more to insure modified vehicles
If you’re replacing the engine as the result of damages, your premiums may go up even more depending on the cause of the damage. If the damage was significant enough to total your car, you’ll need to get it registered as a salvage title—this will further affect your car insurance.  
However, if you need a new engine as the result of a collision that was not your fault, the cost of a new engine block may be covered. 

Finding affordable car insurance

Swapping out your engine is sometimes necessary. Unfortunately, this will lead to an increase in the cost of your insurance. This may (understandably) leave you looking for a more affordable way to insure your car.
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This will depend on your needs and your budget. If you don’t need a very extensive engine overhaul and you’re on a budget, a short block might be a better option.
In most other cases, a long block will be the better choice. But it will also often be more expensive.
A turn-key engine or “plug-and-play” engine is a crate engine that comes pre-assembled and ready for use. It will be a nearly-complete motor that includes a fan shroud, sheet metal, generator, coil, distributor, fuel pump, and more. This is one of the easiest-to-use types of aftermarket engines.
A bar block is just what it sounds like–an engine block with absolutely no other components included.
A deluxe engine or “deluxe long block” engine is basically a crate engine that includes everything. Deluxe engines will come with components that you aren’t likely to find in any other block package. This includes things like the intake, wires, oil pan, spark plugs, and more.
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