Ok, it's engine removal time ! You have decided that the engine has to come out of your car, truck, boat or other vehicle so you can repair it so here are some handy tips that will not only make the job easier, but also can help you when it comes time to put the engine back in.
First let's take a look at what you will need to do the job.
1. A camera. Huh ? That's not a mechanics tool ?? Well in this day of cheap digital cameras, one of the best things you can do is take a bunch of pictures of the engine before you touch it and during the removal process. This is especially true if you have never done a complete engine removal or replacement. Just about everyone has a digital camera or can borrow one. Use the heck out of it and you won't spend hours trying to figure out how things go back together. Take pictures of the wiring, the hoses, brackets, belts, you name it.
2. Basic hand tools, drain pans, a floor jack, jack stands, something to support the transmission once you unbolt it from the engine, lots of rags, and some oil dry in case you make a mess.
3. An engine hoist. You really cannot do engine removal without it. You can buy one or rent one depending on how much use you think you will have for it. An engine leveler makes it even easier.
4. Service manual. Unless you have done a bunch of engine jobs, I would really recommend that you get a service manual for your vehicle. Almost all factory manuals give actual step by step instructions for engine removal and reinstallation. If you are working on an older car or truck, reprints are very readily available for a pretty cheap price. If you are working on a late model vehicle, you can get a one year DIY subscription to Alldata. This will give you access to all of the factory documentation for your car for less than $30 If you think about how much you are spending on your engine repair, the little bit of extra money for a service manual is well worth it.
5. A couple of friends to help :) Although it can be done by yourself, engine removal is a heck of a lot easier if you have at least one helper. It is also a lot safer in case something goes wrong.
6. An engine stand or engine cradle to put the engine on after you pull it out.
Here are some tips from my years of experience doing engine removals.
1. If your engine has a distributor, do yourself a favor and do a couple of things before you pull the distributor out of the engine. Take the distributor cap off and then turn the engine over by hand until the distributor rotor is pointing at the number one spark plug connector on the cap, and the timing marker on the harmonic damper is pointing at the TDC or "ZERO" timing mark. Once everything is in this position, use a small center punch to mark the base of the distributor and the intake manifold so that you can reinstall the distributor in the same exact position. Also put a mark on the distributor body at the spot that rotor is pointing to. If you do this, your timing will be just about perfect when you reinstall the engine, making it much easier to start.
2. Take the hood off the car. Unless you have done this before and feel very confident, taking the hood off makes engine removal much easier. You can lift the engine up a lot higher without worrying about hitting the hood with the engine hoist. I have always put a thick stack of moving blankets on the roof of the car and just lifted the hood off with a helper and put it on the roof. You can also lean it against the wall of your garage if you have the room. If you do that, make sure you put some rolled up towels or other padding under the corners of the hood when you stand it up against the wall. The corners bend VERY EASILY !!
3. If the car has an automatic transmission, and you are not planning on removing it, make a strap out of a piece of scrap steel and use it to secure the torque converter into the transmission. This will keep it from coming out if you have to move the car around.
4. I personally have never liked the idea of pulling the engine and transmission out together. I have never felt comfortable with the combined weight on the engine hoist and the fact that you have to tilt it to a crazy angle to get the combination out and back into the car. Just seems too scary to me and I have never tried it. I know a lot of guys do it this way, but I never had a problem with crawling under the car and unbolting the transmission first. If it is a manual transmission I actually prefer to just remove the transmission from the car. Here again, this is personal preference. The only possible exception to this might be if you are pulling the engine out of a car that has all of the front sheet metal removed. Even then, I don't personally like the idea.
5. Baggies. Yup, plastic zip lock bags, a box of them. As you take parts off the car or engine, put them in bags and mark the bag so you know what the parts or hardware goes to. Plastic butter containers and cake frosting containers work real good too.
6. Save everything !!!! Yes, save everything you take off the engine or car. Hoses, bolts, belts, even parts that you know you will be replacing. Save them until you have completely finished your engine repair and have the car running again. If you do this, and a new part does not fit right, you can look at the old one to compare.
7. I will try to add to these tips as I think of things.
I have decided that I am not going to get into the actual engine removal process itself. There are just too many variables for different vehicles and my suggestion again is to get the factory service manual and follow the step by step directions. This method has never failed me.