How to Choose a Crate Engine

by Sandra Parker

Crate engines offer a way to obtain large amounts of horsepower without the hassle of purchasing and installing individual components. Choosing a crate engine involves understanding your application and what you want your end result to be. Buying crate engines isn't cheap, but can offer significant savings over purchasing individual engine parts, and it allows the enthusiast a quick way to upgrade his hotrod.

Know what kind of car you have. Crate engines are designed with specific vehicles in mind. An engine built for a Ford Mustang will work best if installed in a Ford Mustang. The engine can be installed in another car; however, do not expect the installation to go smoothly. Adjustments will have to be made and many will have to be custom.

Talk with a professional. Motor performance is a big consideration when choosing a crate engine. If the car you are building will be a street/strip car, there is little need for a 500 horsepower engine. A motor for this purpose should offer a large power range and be somewhat fuel efficient (as fuel efficient as a performance motor can be), while offering enough torque to get off the line quickly. Fuel needs are also a consideration. If the car is not going to strictly be a racecar, it should be able to run off pump gas. A professional who is well versed in crate engine applications will be able to give you the best advice.

Order your motor. When determining where to purchase your motor, stick with the known manufacturers. GMPP or GM Performance Parts, Edlebrock and Year One are some big names in the crate motor industry. When you purchase a crate motor from one of these manufacturers, there is no question about the engine you will receive. Several auto parts houses will sell crate motors, but the origin of these motors may be suspect. The larger manufacturers will have more options in order to accommodate your needs.

Understand your warranty. If you purchase your crate motor from a known manufacturer, it will also give you the peace of mind of having a warranty. If anything breaks, you can have it replaced with little or no cost to you. The people who build these motors are professionally trained and understand how to coax the most performance out of them. All the parts are chosen to give a specific result and should give you years of enjoyment if properly cared for.

Install the motor. The amount of work and mechanical know-how required to install a crate engine is much less than building an engine from scratch; however, there is some work involved. It's best to have a couple of people present to help guide the engine into place and help tighten the installation bolt.

About the Author

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