If your crankshaft is going out, it’s one of the largest and most major repairs you can make in the vehicle. Unfortunately, this seemingly simple engine part, which drives the transmission and the camshaft, takes considerable work and expertise to replace. Often, you’ll have to remove the engine and disassemble it completely to remove the crankshaft.
That’s why average cost of replacing a crankshaft is normally around $2,500. Often, that works out to $350-$900 in parts and $1,000+ in labor. Here, your mechanic is likely to spend 5-8+ hours on the job, so the cost of labor is significant.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of crankshaft replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
How Much Does Crankshaft Replacement Cost?*
In most cases, the largest factor in replacing the crankshaft is the cost of labor. Therefore, the make and model of your vehicle, including factors like the room around the engine, how easy it is to pull the engine out, and the cost of the parts will all be very influential on the total cost of the replacement.
The following price estimates cover multiple popular vehicles:
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*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (April 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
Crankshaft Replacement Price Factors
Replacing a crankshaft is a big job and one that you should expect to pay at least $2,500 for the total job, including labor. Here, factors like the make and model of your car, the condition of the cylinders, and the cost of labor in your area will all be important.
Cost of Labor
Labor is almost always the most influential cost in replacing a crankshaft. That’s because taking the shaft out is a laborious job. The engine has to come out completely. Then, while suspended upright, the engine has to be torn down. The camshaft and transmission have to be unmounted from the crankshaft. Then, the bearings all have to be removed. This can be a laborious process and may take several hours. Then, everything has to be put back to the exact specifications of the engine. Bearings and rod bearings have to be reconnected and measured out perfectly.
Therefore, you can normally expect the full process of replacing a crankshaft to take 10-16+ hours. In some cases, your mechanic may be able to do the work more quickly. In others, it might be a 3+ day job. For that reason, the cost of pulling the crankshaft out can add up quickly. That’s especially true considering the national rate for mechanics ranges from $15-$205+. With a national average of $60 per hour, you’re looking at a bare minimum of $600, but likely much more.
Condition of the Engine
Normally, by the time you replace your crankshaft, your entire engine is having issues. The most common reason to have to replace a crankshaft is throwing a bearing. This means you’ll have to assess whether the engine should be rebuilt as part of the replacement. Here, you’ll at minimum want to replace all of the bearings. You might also want to replace the bearing rods. In addition, the seals connecting to the transmission and the camshaft will have to be replaced.
Finally, some mechanics recommend that if you de-tension the cylinders, you should replace them. While that won’t always be necessary, it’s a good idea to check to ensure that everything is in good condition. After all, the cost of more parts is fairly small in comparison to the cost of tearing the engine down again at a later date.
Cost of the Parts
New crankshafts can be expensive. Here, it’s important to note that crankshafts are almost always OEM parts. They don’t normally fail in engines. When they do, most mechanics will try to repair them. Therefore, it’s unusual to have to replace the full crankshaft. This means that you’re unlikely to find aftermarket parts for many. On the other hand, if you have a very popular vehicle, you can likely find aftermarket parts. Here, the cost of your crankshaft can drop as low as $100.
For a luxury or performance vehicle, the cost of those parts can go well over $1,000. However, on average, you’re more likely to pay around $500 in parts, or around $800-$1,000 with seals, bearings, and bearing rods. Unfortunately, that will also heavily depend on the make and model of your vehicle, so you should check for your specific vehicle first.
Additionally, you may be able to opt for a secondhand crankshaft. Here, it’s important to inspect the part to ensure there’s no existing damage. Alternatively, you can choose a remanufactured part, which means that a failed crankshaft has been rebuilt to meet or exceed manufacturer specifications.
3 Signs & Symptoms of a Bad Crankshaft
If your crankshaft goes out, it’s almost always because of material failure or mechanical overload. That means bearing failure, engine jamming, or faulty flywheels. Here, abnormal combustion like backfiring, faulty gearboxes, loose counterweights, faulty flywheels, or bearing damage can all cause issues. In other cases, the crankshaft might be damaged because of factory issues or mechanical damage from before the installation. These will all result in a mechanically damaged crankshaft, which you normally spot during a physical inspection. However, you might also notice other signs like:
1. Knocking Sounds
If your crankshaft is physically broken or stressed to the point of adding extra play into the system, it will cause knocking noises in the engine. Often, you’ll hear these every time the engine turns over, which means you’ll hear a steady and loud knock. If you allow that to keep up, the shaft may eventually break. In other cases, the knocking noise may not be even, but you’ll still hear it, from directly under the engine and between the front seats.
2. Physical Damage
You can always inspect your crankshaft to see if it’s physically damaged. However, you’ll normally have to remove the oil sump or oil pan to access it. This can require a significant amount of work. Once you do, you can physically inspect the shaft for cracks, stretches, shears, stress marks, or deep grooves. You can try cleaning the crankshaft with brake cleaner before inspection, as it can be quite dirty. If you see metal filings or shavings, pay attention as these can be indicative of an issue as well.
3. Engine Doesn’t Start
If your crankshaft is broken, your engine may not start. If it’s not entirely broken but still stressed or damaged, your engine may start intermittently. You might also frequently stall. It may feel like your engine jams up. Importantly, if your vehicle is doing this, it’s a good idea to stop driving the car. A failing crankshaft can break at any time, which means you will lose control of your vehicle. In addition, if it does seize up or break, you could cause further damage to the engine, which might mean replacing the entire engine rather than “just” the crankshaft.
How To Change a Crankshaft: 16 Step Procedure
Changing a crankshaft is a very complicated procedure. In most engines, you will have to remove the engine to do so. In some, you can access the crankshaft from the top and replace it without ripping the motor out. However, this is unlikely to be the case. In addition, you’ll have to access the full top of the motor to do the work. This often means suspending the motor to do the work. However, you can do the work without suspending the motor, it will just take more time. In addition, it’s important to ensure that you have the tools to get the motor back into the engine.
Things You’ll Need:
- Crankshaft puller. You can also check and verify that your model can be taken out with a wrench and by turning the starter engine (manually) to detach the crankshaft.
- Jacks + jack stand
- Wrench set (normally metric but check your car)
- Brake cleaner
- Hoist capable of lifting an engine (500 lbs+)
- Torque wrench
- Breaker Bar
- Replacement crankshaft
- Plastigauge material
- Drain pan
- Replacement bearings for the crankshaft
- Replacement seals for the crankshaft
Removing the Engine
Removing the engine is the first part of replacing the crankshaft. Here, you may be able to get away with skipping this step. However, it’s unlikely. To start off, follow basic safety procedures for working on your vehicle. This means parking your vehicle on a flat and level surface. You’ll also want to turn the engine off and remove the key from the ignition. Then, disconnect and remove the battery.
- Place jacks under the motor, jacking them up so that the jack nearly touches the motor. In most cases, you won’t be able to get a hoist chain around the motor at this point so you’ll want to support the motor to keep it from falling.
- Drain the oil into a drain pan.
- Remove the manual transmission and clutch assemblies.
- Unbolt the flywheel then pry it off of the crankshaft. This may require significant force, as it can become stuck to the flange.
- Assess what’s between you and the motor mounts and take those accessories out.
- Unbolt the motor mounts. In most cases, you have a front, side, and rear motor mount. When you undo the last one the engine should drop down onto the jacks.
- If this doesn’t create enough space to get the hoist around the motor, lower the jacks to drop the engine. Be very careful not to drop it as engines weigh 450+ lbs and getting them back off the ground can be extremely difficult.
- Use the engine hoist to lift the engine. Place it on a flat surface, cylinder side up, or leave it suspended.
Replacing the Crankshaft
- Either use a crankshaft puller or use a wrench attached to the crank and manually turn the starter engine to disengage the crankshaft from the camshaft.
- Unbolt the bearing caps from the top of the engine. This may require significant force.
- Lift the bearing caps off, being careful to note which goes where. You may want to label them as you remove them if they aren’t labeled.
- Thoroughly clean the bearing caps and bearings if you are reusing them.
- Lift the old crankshaft out. Inspect it and look for damage. You’ll also want to check the flywheel and the bearings for damage to see where the issue came from.
- Clean off the bearing cap surfaces using brake cleaner and a disposable towel.
- Install the upper bearing halves, being sure to align the holes in the bearings with the holes in the engine block. Make sure you do not touch the inside of the bearing with your fingers. Use the alignment tab to ensure that everything is lined up well.
- Install the thrust bearing, starting with the bottom half. Apply lubricant to the back and install it in place.
- Lubricate the bearings being sure not to contaminate the surface of the bearings with dirt or debris.
- If the rear main seal has to go in before the crankshaft. In most cases, you can install it afterwards. However, if you have a rear main seal groove, you’ll have to install at least part of the 2-part seal before putting the crankshaft back into place.
- Double-check that your crankshaft is clean.
- Slide the crankshaft into place on the engine, setting it into the bearings. Do not rotate the crankshaft.
- Install the upper bearing caps. Here, you’ll normally have to install the bearings, and then install them. You do not need lubrication on the back side of the bearing, just on the front side.
- Install plastigauge. These plastic strips are used to gauge the position of the bearings. Place the plastic on the bearing journal, starting with the middle journal. Add the bearing cap with the bearing fitted. Torque the bolts down to the specifications. You’ll want to ensure that your bolts are clean and wiped down with oil. First, torque to 35-foot pounds, then go to the final torque. Use a breaker bar or an angle finder to set the torque wrench to 90 degrees and use that to tighten the bolts in 90-degree turns.
- Check the plastigauge by seeing how much it was crushed. To do this, you’ll have to take the bearing off. Use the paper chart to measure how much it was spread out. Compare that measurement to your specifications. If it’s within specifications, reinstall it. Make sure you check every bearing as well as the connection bearings. You can take the plastigauge off or not.
- Do not turn the crankshaft until you’ve torqued all of the bearing caps down. Then, turn the crankshaft to see if it’s properly installed. If you can turn it with your hands, it’s good. On the other hand, if you can’t, use a torque wrench to measure how much effort it takes. If it takes more than 5 foot-pounds of pressure to turn, a bearing cap is causing the crankshaft to bind, and this should be fixed.
From there, you can replace your engine block and reinstall everything. Be sure to check the seals and make sure they’re installed in the right direction. You’ll also want to double-check the flywheel and the camshaft when you reinstall. Finally, make sure you refill the oil before you start the engine up.
If you still have questions about replacing your crankshaft, these answers should help.
Can I just replace the crankshaft?
You can but it requires significant tools and effort to do so. In most cases, you’ll need an engine hoist to do the work. In very rare cases, you can replace the crankshaft without taking the engine out, but this is unlikely.
How long does it take to change a crankshaft?
In most cases, you should expect to spend 8-16 hours replacing the crankshaft.
Can you drive a car with a broken crankshaft?
No. The engine won’t turn over, the car won’t start, or it will be at risk of stalling and seizing up if the crankshaft breaks completely. In addition, you could be causing more damage to the engine by driving it with a damaged crankshaft.
How long does a crankshaft last?
The crankshaft should last for the duration of the engine. It’s extremely rare for the crankshaft to break. Therefore, most issues are usually with the sensor, the seals, or the bearings.
Replacing a crankshaft is an extremely difficult job and you need heavy-duty tooling to do the work. However, it will save you at least $1,000 in labor, as the cost of replacing a crankshaft is more than half labor. If you have the work done by a mechanic, you can normally expect to pay around $2,500 for the full job.