Is it cheaper to rebuild or replace an RV engine?

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: Is it cheaper to rebuild or replace an RV engine? We will review the costs of replacing an RV engine, and give you a few recommendations on what is the best type for your recreational vehicle. We will also discuss how you can maintain your RV engine to prolong its life. 

Is it cheaper to rebuild or replace an engine?

Rebuilding an engine will always be cheaper than replacing one, however, the decision depends on several factors, starting with the severity of the engine damage.

To find out if the engine is worth repairing, find a reliable mechanic or order at least three diagnostics from three different shops. Once an honest mechanic gives you his diagnosis, analyze the costs. For example, replacing auto parts that make up the engine such as the auto pump should be very simple and relatively inexpensive.

But if the long years and poor care of your engine have cost you that most of its components are worn and that it is prone to constant failure, perhaps your vehicle has no salvation.

So repairing your engine is always the correct answer, as long as it can be guaranteed that the engine will continue to function optimally.

If the engine is hopeless and you, as the vehicle owner, believe that it can continue to serve its purpose, consider that the average price of a new engine for an RV is $3,000 to $ 4,000, depending on the model and make of the vehicle.

How much does RV engine replacement cost?

Here is a list of average engine replacement prices:

  • Used engine replacement: $7,985 to $12,450
  • New Engine Replacement (Dealer): $ 20,500 to $44,416
  • Labour Costs: $1300 to almost $4,000.

What is the best diesel engine for an RV?

If your budget allows it, the best diesel engine for a motorhome is an engine greater than 100 hp. You will have more comfort with a more powerful and more torquey engine, especially if you are travelling with a large payload. 

See the table below for our recommendations when it comes to the best diesel engine for a motorhome:

Type of Diesel EnginePeak TorqueHorse Powers
X151950 lb-ft565 hp
X121695 lb-ft500 hp
L91250 lb-ft 330-450 hp
B6.7400 Lb-Ft200-325 hp

The first tip that we give you without hesitation: avoid choosing an engine of less than 130 hp. It will very often be far too small for a vehicle of this weight (often close to 3.5T for example for an integral).

It is customary to say that the Fiat brand is the leader in the motorhome market. This is true, but top-of-the-range vehicles are also equipped with Mercedes, for example with high torque and an engine + automatic gearbox combo, which is pleasant to use.

Even for advice as for leisure vehicles, if your budget allows it, favour an engine greater than 100hp. You will have more comfort with a more powerful and more torquey engine, especially if you are travelling with a large payload.

Our second tip will therefore be: not to race for the biggest brands without considering the alternatives first. Still, by talking to your dealer, maybe you will find another option, which combines your desire for a type of motorhome with a reliable and not necessarily expensive engine.

Our third tip will also be to carefully study the engine + gearbox assembly to also ensure that the consumption announced by the manufacturer remains reasonable. On average for a displacement of between 1.6 litres and 2.3 litres, the manufacturers announce a consumption between 5.6 and 6.2 litres per 100 km with a 6-speed gearbox.

How to maintain the engine of your RV and prolong its lifespan?

Like all other vehicles, recreational vehicles age and wear out. As for the maintenance to keep it new as long as possible, it should of course be cleaned regularly. But the mechanics, too, must be preserved to last as long as possible. And, in this area, there are several elements to take into account.

  1. Clean the engine of your RV: In a very simple way, your vehicle’s engine deserves to be cleaned like the other parts of it. Removing dirt that can clog filters, for example, is a snap. Degreasers exist to help you. Just spray them on the dirty areas and wipe them clean with a clean cloth.

By also cleaning the oily or sticky areas, you will more easily detect a possible leak. Check that all the hoses are in good condition and that they are correctly connected. The engine of your RV is probably protected by plastic housing. Make sure it is still secure and undamaged!

  1. Engine inspection should be done regularly. Do you have enough coolant? Is my oil level good for the road? Is it time to change the oil? How long has it been since you checked the battery, alternator, spark plugs or light bulbs? Are your brakes working properly? As well as your shock absorbers, your clutch?

These are all questions to ask yourself regularly. In principle, the frequency of overhaul of your vehicle is entered in its maintenance log. In general, it is appropriate in particular to:

  1. Make the necessary replacements. Clean the air filter every 10,000 miles. Disassemble and clean the EGR valve every 5 years. Change the timing belt 12,500 miles before the manufacturer’s advice, for better safety (or every 5 years if the vehicle is not driven much).

The brake pads need to be changed approximately every 37,000 miles, the glow plugs every 56,000 miles, the shock absorbers every 62,000 miles. Check the steering ball joints at approximately 87,000 miles, or the universal joints, clutch and silent blocs every 112,000 miles. Also, pay attention to the injectors and the exhaust.

 Maintaining an RV is perhaps trickier than maintaining a car. If you know how to change the oil and check a few key points, you probably can’t do it all on your own.

Technical centres are at your disposal for this. 

Preserving your RV engine with good driving habits

Having the right driving habits is very useful in order to spare your engine a little. The vehicle you are driving is a leisure vehicle, you don’t have to drive it like a racing car and you’re not in a hurry to work either. Opt for “relaxed” driving, avoid highways, accelerations, and bad gear. Maintain the correct tire pressure as much as possible and use the air conditioning without excess. All of these tips are useful for your engine, but also for your gas mileage.


Replacing an engine is expensive. The first thing to do is determine if you really need a new engine. Before deciding, you should check with a reliable technician whether the damage is repairable. If replacement turns out to be a must, then again, it makes more sense to compare.

Please feel free to get in contact if you have any questions or comments on the content. 

FAQ on Is it cheaper to rebuild or replace an engine?

How much does a bus engine cost?

The cost for replacing a bus engine will vary greatly depending on the type of engine you need, the manufacturer, horsepower, torque and year of manufacture. The price range for a new bus engine is between $3,500 to $14,500, highly influenced by the market you decide to buy. 

Is it best to replace or repair a bus engine?

Many drivers consider buying a new bus engine in the event of a broken one or in the process of converting a Skoolie. It starts from the concept that the engine is considered the heart of the vehicle. If this organ is broken down, the vehicle is no longer really of much use.

What engine for a campervan?

When it comes to engines for campervans, we recommend the 2.0 Multijet 115 hp and the 2.3 available in four power levels: 115 hp, 130 hp (the most common), 150 and 177 hp, the latter two using a geometry turbocharger variable.


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