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Rebuilding a 1999 Altima engine

Hello! I am rebuilding my 99 Altima engine with 207K miles, it overheated and is now on its last legs after a patch job. I have a good friend mechanic who has the know-how, but I just want to make sure we dont leave anything out. I am buying a reman head cylinder and taking the block to be machined, (bored, crank turned, etc). My question is what do I need to replace that is cost efficient? I’m thinking about the clutch (manual tranny) , maybe oil pump… My assumption is that those have already been changed with as many miles as the car has. I have only owned it a few months. What are your thoughts? What part should I change while I have the engine out?

Thanks SO much for the help.

Trying to rebuild junk can get VERY expensive before it’s all said and done…I would install a FACTORY new “long block” and get some value for your money, along with a decent warranty…

Well, that’s a major cost at approx $2,500 + , my friend is doing it free of charge. All I have to do is buy the parts. I’m estimating around $1,000.00.

There’s certainly no point in putting an old, worn clutch back in. Same with the rear main seal on the engine. But once you start going your estimate will probably be off.

In general, I agree with caddyman, though you don’t necessarily need a new engine. Find one from a salvage yard & have your friend help install it. Much less muss & fuss. I’d bet you can come in under $1000 w/out too much trouble.

If a good used engine can be found at a reasonable price it is often the best alternative. Even for someone with many hundreds of overhauls in my past I would take the time to shop reputable sources for a salvage engine before opening that can of worms. And certainly, if you use a salvage engine replace the clutch disc and inspect all seals and check the chain for slack.

We plan on replacing front and rear engine seals, all gaskets, new pistons, etc. Used engines in my area are rare and expensive, approx $900-$1,000. My reasoning is why not spend the same amount of money and have a perfectly good like new used engine? Or is that not how it work? haha.
Thanks for the input guys.

The details can become a nightmare. If your friend has experience with that engine and you have access to a well equipped shop you could be very happy with the results of your efforts. If you and your friend are stepping off into new territory there are many pitfalls that hidden in the details. And if you do go for the rebuild new pistons are not likely needed nor will the cylinders need boring. Hopefully the machine shop will be honest with you on such matters.

How experienced is your friend with engine rebuilds? Does he have the machine shop and will he be doing the machining?

I’ve learned when I see the words “rebuilt engine” listed, nervous red flags go up. There is always a chance the rebuild was done correctly, but often that isn’t the case.

Can you show a cost breakdown for what $900-$1000 will get you? (parts & labor for work you need to send out). Unless your friend will be doing all the machining, that amount sounds quite low.

He has rebuilt a few, not too many, but I trust his work. I will be using a local machine shop. The costs are as follows:
$330 for reman head cylinder
$200 for new clutch kit
$180 at machine shop. $75 to bore out cylinder, $75 to turn crank, $30 for cleaning of block and new freeze plugs.
$30 gasket kit
$100 total for crank and rod bearings
$50 misc (oil, filter, small seals.)
^^^ = $890.00
add another $110 just in case, mechanic tip perhaps?? :wink:
= $1,000.00

Am I missing something?

Already I see a problem with the numbers. You state the cylinders are bored out. Have you not gone and priced oversized pistons and a ring set?
Where do you come up with 30 dollars on a full gasket set?
Have you priced a new timing component set?
Thirty dollars for vatting a block and block plugs? That runs about 75 dollars + parts around here and even that is considered to be cheap.
A gasket set alone will probably run 150 dollars or more and a set of bare piston rings just as much.

That’s just for a start before getting into the proficiency of the guy putting this altogether. Does he have the tools and expertise to check piston/cylinder bore fit, crankshaft oil clearances and end play, along with the ability to determine if cam lobes and lash adjusters are good or not?

On the surface, this looks like trouble brewing to me both as to price and the potential of something going wrong.

Before the 1950s or 1960s major and minor engine overhauls were commonly done with OHV and flathead engines but it often involved a decision to overhaul or else buy a rebuild depending on the extent of work needed. Since you have an apparently experienced and inexpensive mechanic, an overhaul seems to be in order as a cost effective way to get on the road again. The rebuilt head,if done right, removes a lot of concerns. Make sure that the head rebuilder heats and flattens rebuilt ohc aluminum heads to keep the cam bearings in alignment rather than simply machining a warped head to flatness at the gasket surface. Yes, do the clutch as it is easy now and you will be good to go for a while with that. Don’t forget the pilot bearing if needed. The oil pump is likely good as is but if a new one is cheap, then ok. Some mechanics may get tired or will have time constraints and will recommend a scrapyard engine, a rebuilt or whatever. You might want to polish your crankshaft mains and rod journals with oil wetted emery cloth. Polish and frequently check with a micrometer to make sure that it is not being polished to out of round. Measure the crank to determine if you might want .001" or .002" oversize crank and rod bearing inserts if available.

“Hello! I am rebuilding my 99 Altima engine with 207K miles, it overheated and is now on its last legs after a patch job.”

You might not have anything to rebuild…The term “overheated” covers a lot of ground…Very few back-yard rebuilds meet the expectations of the person who just forked out the $1000…But then again, you might get lucky…

Such details as blowing out oil passages, plasti-gaging bearing clearances, understanding how to set the valve clearance, priming the oil pump, etc are critical. And if the crank needs turning the timing gears are likely in need of replacing and possibly the oil pump also. If you are patient and your friend is capable and will stick with you the result could be better than a $2,000 crate rebuild but it will likely be an aggravating week or two. Good luck.

Well guys thanks for the tips… I’ll be honest I’m not feeling very encouraged after reading some of your comments.

@ok4450 yes, the prices I quoted are fairly accurate. I have have been off on a couple things. I forgot to add a piston w/ rings set on eBay is right at $105 out the door. Yes, they have over size options.
My mechanic said he is familiar with all you mentioned minus lash adjusters… Can you elaborate?

@Wha Whoo - thanks for the crankshaft tips. We will explore those further.

@Caddyman - I’m not expecting miracles, But a non knocking engine that will provide another year or two of service.

@Rod Knox - Thanks for the tips, with 200K miles I think I’ll probably replace the oil pump to ensure our work doesn’t “burn up”.

My comment about checking cam lobe and lash adjusters means going over them very carefully; even with a magnifying glass if need be.
Often the lobes and ends of the adjusters may be pitted and this is a sign of the hard coating breaking down. That can be caused by irregular oil changes, severe overheating, and plain old high miles; or a combination of all of that. Once the hard coating wears through enough things can go south pretty quickly when cam lobes start going flat or lash adjusters start to disentegrate.

A 105 dollars for a set of pistons and rings is dirt cheap. Personally, I don’t use eBay for things like that as the quality and specifications are sometimes not what they should be when you start dealing with non-brand name parts. On occasion, I’ve veered off and bought a few things from eBay in the past and not one time have I ever failed to be disappointed. To each his own and good luck anyway.

There’s another way of looking at this.

Many of the replies you’ve received are from us “old timers”. Our approach now is tempered by years of learning lessons the hard way. But I would argue that most (or all) of us started out with a youthful energy - jumping into situations where we often found ourselves over our heads - and then learned as we climbed out.

You’re getting some very valuable input, but please don’t let our replies kill your enthusiasm - however you decide to move forward.

Well said, JoeMario. I sometimes forget the Studebaker that I rebuilt 50 years ago in the driveway. My friend finished high school driving that car. If I hadn’t taken on that job I might be a bankrupt stock broker today.

I “rebuilt” the engine on a 53 Buick flathead straight eight in a borrowed backyard in Springfield Ohio in 1966, because otherwise I was going to have to hitchhike to Colorado. I did everything wrong, no torque wrench or service manual, just figured it out, replaced the busted stuff (holes in the pistons) with junkyard pistons, used the old rings and gaskets, tightened the bolts somewhere between pretty tight and, on the head, really tight. It started, I drove it to Colorado, used one quart of oil, drove it all summer, sold it to some guys who drove it up to Montana or Washington picking apples for a couple of years.

So, do the job, do your best, get it in the car and start it up. There is nothing like the feeling you get the first time you dare to turn it over with the fuel connected and the electric hooked up, and it starts. You hold your breath, waiting for the dreaded loud noise. It’s how many of us learned to wrench, and it’s fun and work.

Quote from wentwest: “I “rebuilt” the engine on a 53 Buick flathead straight eight in a borrowed backyard in Springfield Ohio in 1966,” Unquote

Mr. wentwest, Buick has never produced a flathead engine unless it was done in the very early days before 1910. They were otherwise always OHV but thanks for the memories. Buick always made very sturdy, well tested engines.

Wha Who:
While my memory doesn’t go back that far, the wikipedia page at does mention that Buick produced the flathead straight 8 up through the 1953 year.