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Whether you’re part of a company fleet or working for yourself, your truck is your way to make money, and you need to keep it on the road and running. When engine breakdowns occur, your truck must be repaired as quickly as possible.

Many simple repairs can be easily done yourself, but major ones require expert help. In severe cases, drivers are faced with the prospect of buying a new truck or performing an engine overhaul or rebuild. If you haven’t considered an overhaul before, now might be a good time to get started. Here’s what you need to know about complete engine overhauls.


More and more truckers are choosing to overhaul their old engine rather than buy a new one; some even restore an older rig entirely instead of purchasing brand new. There are several reasons this option is becoming more attractive to truckers.

Reliability. It’s a known fact that older engines have a great track record for rate of repair and longevity simply because they’ve been around the block a few times. Newer engines, however, have yet to prove their record despite their innovations and design.

Simpler to Repair. Older engines are more easily repaired because of their simplicity. Much of these repairs can be done by the driver. Many new truck engines are computerized and difficult to work on yourself.

Less Expensive. Older trucks are not only easier to repair but are less expensive. You can save money by performing labor yourself and save time by not waiting for the shop, where rates can vary wildly between $45 and $125 per hour.

Newer Trucks Are Too Expensive. A new truck represents a serious investment of $140,000 to $175,000, along with a hefty monthly payment. Your cost increases when you add on the price of emissions equipment and DEF.

Simpler to Finance. It’s much simpler to get a smaller loan for an engine overhaul than it is to commit to a huge investment for a new rig. Those payments will be a lot less too.

Easy Exit Plan. Because of increasing job demands and rising equipment costs, the trucking industry can be uncertain, leaving you wondering how and when to retire. With huge monthly payments for that newer rig, it may be harder to quit driving when you want to. Without large payments, you can walk away when the time is right with a truck that’s already paid for.

In the past, buying a new rig was a great solution for a wasted engine. Now, however, new doesn’t always mean better.


If your engine is nearing 750,000 to 800,000 miles, it may be time to consider an overhaul. Mileage is not the only indicator—the kind of hauling you engage in is another. Pulling heavy loads up and down grades or with lots of stops and starts wears your engine components more than hauling smaller loads across the country.

Traditional tests to determine engine condition like an oil analysis or a crankcase blow-by are very reliable and can reveal how close your engine is to needing help. While these tests both should be performed, there are other ways your engine may be telling you it needs an overhaul.

What You Smell. You may be able to smell whether your engine is nearing failure. Fuel can work its way into the crankcase if the injection system is failing, making oil less viscous and making it smell like fuel. Place a drop of oil on a piece of paper. If it spreads quickly, it might indicate fuel dilution. If you smell burning oil, your oil is overheating.

What You Hear. A sudden pinging sound from the engine or an engine that is running rough might mean it’s time for an overhaul.

What You See. Check the oil for water. You’ll see a foam on the neck, the cap or the dipstick of the oil reservoir. Water could be present if the dipstick develops rust. A sudden change in the exhaust smoke color or thickness could also mean trouble.

If you feel your engine is in need of an overhaul and you simply do not want to buy a brand new rig, visit S&T Truck Repair.