Rebuilt versus remanufactured: what you need to know about replacing engines and parts in your truck

Heavy vehicles have a longer lifespan these days, and fleets are keeping their trucks for up to a decade instead of replacing them every few years. This has obvious benefits—particularly financial ones. But it does mean that owners are faced with different sorts of decisions when their vehicle starts to show signs of wear and tear: and one of them is whether to rebuild or remanufacture an engine or part.

Truck Engine replacement
In most cases, when a truck needs a replacement engine, it’s impossible to justify purchasing a new one because of the age of the vehicle. It’s easy enough to find rebuilt and remanufactured engines and parts—but it can be risky business if the retailer doesn’t have the expertise to deliver a safe and functionally sound product. Many people mistakenly believe that any functioning used component or part will be a good replacement for their engine, transmission, differential—but not all parts and retailers are the same.
That’s why it’s important to understand some of the main differences between rebuilding and remanufacturing, so you can make the right decision for your vehicle when it comes time to deal with the inevitable mechanical issues that arise during its lifespan. Either option could be the right one for your truck, but there are distinct differences in the components and the repair process that you should consider before deciding which part to buy.

The processes

Rebuilding an engine or component is a very different process to remanufacturing one. And depending on who’s doing the work, and what they’re using, the results can vary a lot.

During a rebuild, the mechanic replaces worn or damaged components of the engine or part. They usually only remove, repair and replace the faulty component, leaving the rest of the part intact.

This is often the right choice for many vehicles, especially if it’s obvious that the single fault is the only problem with the part. The repair is done only to fix the failure, and the component or part is put back into the truck without changing anything else. Rebuilding is often the most cost effective option for engines and parts that are otherwise sound—but testing the rebuilt engine or part for safety and efficiency does rely on the skills of the technician, so you need to be sure you’ve chosen wisely.

Man working on a red truck
Truck Parts Australia

The process of remanufacturing is completely different.

In remanufacturing, the engine or part is completely disassembled, with individual parts each inspected and repaired individually to the exact specifications of the original manufacturer.

When you’ve taken your engine or part to be remanufactured, the components in the part might not be the ones that were in it to start with—but in most cases, they’re higher quality. Some technicians will even argue that because each component is tested to the original manufacturing standards before being approved for use in the part, the end result is the same or even better than when the vehicle was driven out of the showroom. Depending on the technician, remanufacturing is a good choice for many vehicles. But while remanufactured engines and parts are more cost effective than new and aftermarket OEM parts, it’s still a more expensive option than rebuilding, and it might not be worth it for some vehicles.

The components

The different processes of rebuilt and remanufactured engines and parts naturally means that the results can vary. It’s important to take this into consideration, along with other factors like the age, use, and expected lifespan of your truck, before you decide which is the best option for you.

Remanufacturing involves higher levels of precision and quality control than rebuilding.

Each engine or part is completely disassembled, inspected, cleaned, and tested—even the minor components like alternators, starters, wiper motors, brake callipers, clutches, pistons and pins, valve and camshaft bearings, pushrods, gaskets and seals, oil pumps, and cylinder heads. After they’re inspected, cleaned and resurfaced, they’re tested according to the manufacturer’s original standards before they’re cleared for reuse. In essence, because of the vigorous performance testing (including specific tolerances, quality, and durability for the vehicle’s make and model), remanufacturing engines and parts means that the components are as close as you can get to buying a brand new engine—but without the cost.

Truck parts

Rebuilding an engine or part doesn’t deliver as much in the way of optimising the performance of the components.

For some vehicles, it’s only necessary to replace the component with the issue, and it’s a waste of time and money to do anything else. But if the problem is related to general wear and tear and the age of the engine or part, you could end up in the exact same position in a short few months or years. The faulty component is serviced back to acceptable limits according to the manufacturer, but there are big differences between individual technicians in the quality of the work. Besides that, all of the components in the part or engine are equally used and worn, and have been exposed to the same stresses as the part that’s failed—so while you might get away with replacing the one component, it’s probably only a matter of time before you’ll need to replace others.

Warranties and lifespans

For some truck owners, the issue of warranties is the deciding factor when they need to replace an engine or part. Trucks are work vehicles, and the expense of losing one always has a big impact on a business—which is why it’s essential to minimise downtime and the financial losses of being off the road for any time.

Because of the way the work is done, and the general difference in the quality of the work, a rebuilt engine will usually have a much shorter warranty period than a remanufactured one.

This can be as short as 30 days, but can be up to 90 days. Remanufactured engines usually have much longer warranties: from as long as a year, to as long as the lifetime of the vehicle. This is possible because the individual components have been replaced or upgraded, and might even have resolved underlying issues that the vehicle had when you first bought it. Considering new vehicle warranties only last a few years, a long warranty in the latter half of a truck’s lifespan is something to think seriously about.

Warranties and guarantees obviously vary between dealers and repairers.

A good repairer who’s skilled in rebuilds might offer longer guarantees on their work, making a rebuild a better, more cost-effective option for vehicles nearing the end of their lifespan.

If you’re not sure how long you can expect your vehicle to last, ask for advice: and get a mechanic with the right skills, judgement, and experience to help you decide which option will give you the best value in the long run.

Which option should you choose?

Unfortunately, there’s no single formula to help you decide.

There’s a complex mix of factors to consider: how old your vehicle is and how long you can expect it to last, whether you’re happy to keep replacing components as they fail, or whether it’s a financially sound decision to remanufacture an engine to get the longest possible lifespan from your truck.

Whichever option you choose, there will be labour involved, and your vehicle’s reliability depends on finding the right technician. Rocklea Truck Parts are experts in the industry: we can help you decide whether to rebuild or remanufacture your engine or part, giving you specific information on the lifespans, and performance, and specific requirements of different brands, makes and models so you can make an informed decision. With highly skilled professionals and the best products on the market, we’re happy to offer specific advice and tailored service for your vehicle.

Contact us anytime and we’ll help you minimise your downtime and get you back on the road fast.