Engine Swapping: Can You Swap Engines Between Cars? Is it Legal?

Rahul Jha
Rahul Jha

Updated on: 21st August, 2023 IST

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Can you swap engines between cars? Is it legal?

Engine swapping, also called car engine replacement, is when car enthusiasts replace their vehicle's original engine with a different one, usually for better performance or efficiency. In this blog, we'll look at why people swap car engines, the costs, whether it's legal in India, how feasible it is, and provide a step-by-step guide for the process. 

We'll also cover potential risks and ways to avoid them, along with the advantages and disadvantages of engine swapping. So, if you're curious about upgrading your car's engine or want to know more about engine swaps, keep reading!

What is Engine Swapping?

Engine swapping is a process where the original engine of a car is replaced with a different one. The primary reasons why people choose this modification are to improve their vehicle's performance, increase power, boost fuel efficiency, or fit a more advanced engine into an older car model. In some cases, engine swaps serve as a cost-effective solution to replace a faulty engine instead of buying a new vehicle. 

Car enthusiasts in India often undertake engine swaps to customise their cars according to their preferences and needs, ensuring a better driving experience without purchasing a brand-new vehicle. However, it's essential to consider the legal aspects and adhere to the regulations governing engine swaps in India.

Also Read : 10 Engine Maintenance Tips – Must For A Good Car Care

Why Do People Swap Car Engines?

Engine swaps offer a range of benefits for Indian car enthusiasts. They can enjoy improved performance, better fuel efficiency, cost-effective solutions for unavailable or damaged engines, and the chance to create a truly unique and personalised vehicle.

Here's a breakdown of some of the most common reasons:

1. Performance Enhancement

  • By replacing the original engine with a more powerful one, the car's overall performance can be significantly enhanced
  • This means quicker acceleration, faster top speeds, and an overall thrilling driving experience
  • Whether it's for track racing, off-road adventures, or simply enjoying a spirited drive, a high-performance engine can make a world of difference

2. Fuel Efficiency

  • With rising fuel prices, fuel efficiency has become a crucial factor for car owners
  • Modern engines are engineered to be more fuel-efficient, using advanced technologies like direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, and turbocharging
  • By swapping to a newer, more fuel-efficient engine, car owners can enjoy substantial savings on fuel costs in the long run
  • This is especially beneficial for those who do a lot of daily commuting or long-distance driving

3. Fitment

  • Engine swaps present an affordable and practical solution, especially for older or less common car models
  • Enthusiasts can opt for a readily available and compatible engine that fits seamlessly into their car's engine bay, eliminating the hassle of searching for rare parts or paying exorbitant repair costs

4. Customisation

  • Car owners can choose an engine that aligns with their specific preferences, whether it's a brand known for power, a specific engine configuration (e.g., inline, V-shaped, or rotary), or a unique engine from a different car model
  • The result is a vehicle that stands out from the crowd, reflecting the owner's individuality and passion for cars

Also Read : How to Check Used Car Engine Condition

Cost of Engine Swapping in India

The most popular engines for engine swaps in India are Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, and Honda. The cost of engine swapping can be a significant investment, but it can also be a rewarding one. If you are considering an engine swap, be sure to factor in all of the costs involved before making a decision.

The cost of engine swapping in India can vary depending on several factors, including:

  • Type of engine - High-performance or imported engines will be more expensive than standard ones
  • Availability of the engine - Some engines are more difficult to find than others, which can increase the cost
  • Make and model of the car - Some cars are more difficult to work on than others, which can also increase the cost
  • Skill level of the professional - A professional mechanic will charge more than a DIY enthusiast

Average Cost

On average, an engine swap in India can cost anywhere from ₹50,000-₹2 lakh or more. Here is a breakdown of the costs involved:

  • Engine: ₹20,000-₹1 lakh
  • Labour Costs: ₹10,000-₹50,000
  • Other costs (e.g., fluids, parts, taxes): ₹10,000-₹50,000

Also Read : Types of Car Scratches and How to Fix Them

Engine swapping is legal in India, but it is important to follow the guidelines set by the Supreme Court of India and the Motor Vehicles Act, Section 52.

The Supreme Court of India ruled in January 2019 that no motor vehicle in the country can be modified or altered in such a way that the data about the car differs from the modified version of the car. This means that any changes to the car's chassis or engine are considered illegal.

Section 52 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, also prohibits any alterations to a motor vehicle that would change the particulars contained in the certificate of registration. This means that if you want to swap the engine in your car, you must first obtain the approval of the registering authority.

There are a few exceptions to these rules. For example, a state government may authorise a person who owns at least 10 transport vehicles to swap the engine in their vehicles without the approval of the registering authority. Additionally, the Central Government may grant exemption for engine swaps for specific purposes.

If you are considering engine swapping in India, it is important to consult with a lawyer to ensure that you are complying with all of the relevant laws and regulations.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind when considering engine swapping in India:

  • ou will need to obtain a new certificate of registration for your vehicle after the engine swap
  • You may need to pay additional taxes and fees associated with the engine swap
  • You may need to make changes to your insurance policy to cover the new engine

Key points to consider for a legal engine swap in India:

1. RTO Approval

  • Before proceeding with the engine swap, you must obtain approval from the Regional Transport Office (RTO)
  • This step is crucial to ensure that the modifications comply with the law

2. Pollution Norms

  • The replacement engine must meet the prevailing pollution norms set by the government
  • This ensures that the vehicle remains environmentally friendly

3. Vehicle Age

  • Generally, engine swaps are permitted only in cars that are over three years old
  • Newer vehicles may have stricter regulations

4. Emission Testing

  • After the engine swap, the vehicle must undergo emission testing and obtain a Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificate to verify compliance with emission standards

5. Manufacturer's Specifications

  • The replacement engine must meet the manufacturer's specifications for the vehicle, as this ensures that the engine will be compatible with the rest of the vehicle and that it will perform as expected

Assessing The Feasibility Of An Engine Swap

Proper evaluation, planning, and assessing the feasibility of an engine swap is essential to ensure a successful and cost-effective modification for your car. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Compatibility
  1. Before proceeding with the engine swap, ensure that the new engine is compatible with your car's transmission, wiring harness, and other components
  2. Mismatched parts can lead to performance issues and additional expenses
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  1. Evaluate the overall cost of the engine, labour costs, and associated modifications against the expected improvements in performance and efficiency
  2. Determine if the investment justifies the benefits you seek from the engine swap
  • Professional Assistance
  1. If you lack mechanical expertise, consult a skilled mechanic or automotive professional to assess the feasibility of the engine swap for your specific car model

Step-by-step Guide To Swap The Old Engine

To safely and successfully swap an engine, it's best to get help from a qualified mechanic or automotive professional. However, if you know what you're doing, here's a general guide. First, do your research and find the right new engine, considering any modifications needed. Next, get all the necessary tools like engine hoists, mounts, ratchets, and wrenches. Before you start, disconnect the vehicle's battery and drain all fluids from the existing engine.

Now, carefully remove the old engine by disconnecting the wiring and hoses. Get the new engine ready for installation. Put it onto the engine mounts and reconnect all wiring and hoses. Test everything thoroughly to make sure it works correctly. Don't forget to get approval from the Regional Transport Office (RTO) for the engine swap and update the required documents. If you do it right, your engine swap can be a great upgrade for your vehicle.

Also Read : 5 Warning Signs of Engine Failure You Should Not Ignore

Identifying Potential Risks And How To Mitigate Them

Identifying potential risks associated with engine swaps is crucial to ensure a successful modification. By taking these precautions, car owners can minimise potential risks and enjoy the benefits of a successful engine swap.

Some common issues to consider are:

  • Warranty Voiding

Engine swaps may void the manufacturer's warranty and any extended warranty, leaving the car owner responsible for repairs

  • Reduced Reliability

Incorrectly executed engine swaps can lead to decreased reliability, resulting in frequent breakdowns and costly repairs

  • Legal Implications

Operating a modified vehicle without proper approvals can lead to fines, legal troubles, and the vehicle being deemed unroadworthy

To mitigate these risks, follow these steps:

  • Professional Installation

Entrust the engine swap to a skilled and experienced mechanic to ensure it's done correctly

  • Choose Quality Components

Opt for high-quality and compatible components to ensure reliability and longevity

  • Obtain Necessary Approvals

Ensure the engine swap meets all legal requirements and obtain approvals from the Regional Transport Office (RTO)

Ensuring the Car Remains Roadworthy And Reliable

Ensuring the car remains roadworthy and reliable after an engine swap is crucial for a safe and smooth driving experience. Here are some essential steps to maintain the vehicle's performance:

  • Regular Maintenance
  1. Following a strict maintenance schedule is vital to keep the car in top condition
  2. Regularly servicing the vehicle will help identify any issues early on and prevent potential breakdowns
  • Pay Attention to Warning Signs
  1. After the engine swap, be vigilant about any unusual noises, smells, or changes in performance
  2. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, address it promptly to avoid further complications
  • Use Quality Fuel and Lubricants
  1. Using the recommended fuel and lubricants for the new engine is essential for its longevity and optimal performance
  2. High-quality products can improve fuel efficiency and reduce wear and tear

Pros and Cons of Engine Swapping

By understanding the advantages and disadvantages, you can make informed decisions about whether engine swapping is the right choice for you.

Pros of Engine Swapping:

  • Engine swaps offer the opportunity to install more powerful and efficient engines, resulting in improved acceleration and overall performance of the vehicle
  • Enthusiasts can choose engines that align with their specific driving preferences and style, allowing for a personalised driving experience
  • In some cases, investing in an engine swap can be more affordable than buying a new car with similar performance capabilities
  • Engine swaps can breathe new life into older cars with worn-out or faulty engines, extending the vehicle's lifespan
  • Swapping to a modern engine can provide access to advanced features, better fuel efficiency, and reduced emissions

Cons of Engine Swapping:

  • Engaging in engine swaps without obtaining proper approvals from authorities can result in legal troubles and fines
  • Swapping the engine may void the manufacturer's warranty and any extended warranty coverage, leaving the car owner financially vulnerable
  • Engine swaps require skilled mechanics and specialised parts, which can lead to higher labour costs and material expenses
  • Incorrectly performed engine swaps can lead to mechanical issues, reducing the vehicle's reliability and safety

The Bottom Line

Engine swapping can be quite an adventure for car enthusiasts, offering the potential for improved performance and personalisation. However, it's essential to ensure that the engine swap is legal and that all necessary approvals are obtained from the RTO. 

Professional assistance and careful planning can help mitigate risks and ensure a successful engine swap. By following the right procedures and adhering to regulations, car owners in India can enjoy the benefits of an upgraded engine while keeping their vehicles roadworthy and reliable.

FAQs

Q. What are the legalities of engine swapping?

In India, engine swapping requires proper approvals from the Regional Transport Office (RTO), compliance with pollution norms, and testing for a Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificate to be legally valid.

Q. Can any engine be swapped into any car?

Not every engine can be swapped into any car, as compatibility with the car's transmission, wiring harness, and other components must be considered.

Q. How much does an engine swap typically cost?

The cost of an engine swap varies depending on factors like the engine type, availability, and car make and model, typically ranging from ₹50,000- ₹2 lakh or more.

Q. What tools and equipment are needed for an engine swap?

Performing an engine swap requires specialised tools like engine hoists, mounts, and wiring harness adapters.

Q. Is engine swapping reversible?

Engine swapping can be reversible, but it may involve significant effort and cost to restore the original configuration.

Q. Are there any performance or reliability risks with engine swaps?

Yes, engine swaps can pose performance and reliability risks if not done correctly, leading to reduced efficiency and potential breakdowns.

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