Short Block versus Long Block Engine (Know the Difference)

We'll see the differences between short block and long block engine. Also, we'll see the advantages & disadvantages of each of them.

Short Block versus Long Block Engine

Short Block vs. Long Block Engine – Maybe you are planning on embarking on a car revamp project or if for some reasons your car needs a new motor, one thing you should have an idea on is the differences between the short block engine and the long block engine.

In this article, we are going to discuss at length the difference between the short block engine and the long block engine. In addition to that, we will also take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each of the engines.

All this is so that you will have a lot to work with while making your decision and eventually make an informed choice.

Before we go into detail, let us just point out that a main difference between a short block and a long block engine is the number of parts it comes with. While a long block engine will come with a cylinder head and a lot of the internal parts, a short block engine comprises of just the lower part of the motor.

Let us now discuss them in detail and we will begin with the short block engine.

Short Block Engine

With regards to automotive motors the short block engine is seen as the smaller package. When you go for it, it comes with the cylinder block as well as some important parts like the crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons. It is not compulsory that these are the parts that must come with it as this varies, depending on the manufacturer.

So you see that there are other parts that will be required such as gaskets, cylinder heads, and oil pump. You will have to buy these ones differently as they do not come with the short block engine.

Pros and Cons of Short Block engine

You must have heard the saying that everything that has an advantage also has a disadvantage. Well, that equally applies here. Deciding to go for a short block has its pros and cons which we will now take a look at.


The short block gives room for more customization, gives opportunity for more learning experience and is cost effective upfront.


It is actually more complicated and needs more coupling and assembly. You will still need to tune some parts and spend some more time on the installation. The fact that you still need to buy other parts means that you spend more money in the long run and the block is the only part that has a warranty.

Long Block Engine

Unlike the short block, the long block has more components. This is in addition to the components that are already obtainable with the short block. These parts include the cylinder head, oil pan, camshaft, valvetrain and valve covers.

However, the long block is still not a totally complete package and will still require some parts like fuel system, various electrical parts, intake and exhaust manifolds.

If what you are gunning for is to change all parts of the engine assembly, then maybe you should consider a turn-key engine.

Advantages and disadvantages of a Long Block

Just as we discussed the pros and cons of the short block engine, we will do likewise with the long block engine.


It comes with more parts and the whole package has a warranty. Its components have already been tuned which means that you don’t have to waste time tuning the parts yourself.


It doesn’t give room for a lot of customization and does not have all the parts that are obtainable with a turn-key engine. Also, you get to pay more upfront.

Major Differences between the Short Block engine and the Long Block engine

We have already explained what long and short block engine entails, and have discussed their advantages and disadvantages. It is now time to really look at the differences between them.

1. Cost

We already mentioned that one of the advantages of going for the short block engine is that it is cheaper upfront. The price for short block engines ranges between $1,200 and $5,000. That are different factors that determine the price that you will pay for a short block engine and they include the year, make as well as model of your car.

But bear it in mind that the short block engine does not come with some parts and you will have to purchase those parts separately. This means that in the long run, you will still spend more money in addition to what you already paid for the purchase.

But these parts come with the long block engine and there won’t be any need to buy them. So you see that even though the long block engine might seem to be more expensive upfront, it might actually be the more cost effective option in the long run.

2. Parts that they are comprised of

The major distinguishing factor between the short block engine and the long block engine is the amount of parts that each comes with.

Upon purchase, the short block comprises of the block, rods, crank and pistons. There may also be some other parts that are installed like the camshaft, covers and timing chain. Bear it in mind that these components come fully assembled.

The long block engine on the other hand comes with everything you will find in the short block engine and more. In addition to what we already have with the short block, it comes with intake manifold, oil pan, coil packs or a distributor, and carburetor or throttle body.

Also note that with the long block, the valvetrain and heads would normally be installed.

Do not mistake this for a bare block engine. A bare block engine is the aluminum or cast iron block that needs machine work before you can make it your vehicle engine.

More so, the rotating assemblies comprises of rods, crank and pistons that are proportioned with the needed bearings.

3. Warranty

The long block engine comes with a longer and more extensive warranty covering different parts of the total package. But since you buy separate parts for your short block engine, those parts will not be covered by the block warranty. And if any damage or fault should occur during the fitting, you will be shouldering the responsibility yourself.

4. Installation Time

The installation of the short block and the long block engine varies. Since the long block engine already has the parts fitted, its installation does not consume much time.

Even if there are some parts that you have to add, they won’t be much and so will not take much time. So the long block engine is easier as well as faster to install.

The short block engine on the other hand will take some more time. You will have to fit and assemble all the various parts that you bought separately.

A good side to this however is that it gives room for more customization. But a down side to it is that you will be charged more for the installation if you are not doing it yourself.

Selecting between the Short Block and Long Block Engine

The purpose of this article is to provide you with necessary information about the short block engine and the long block engine and we believe we have done justice to that.

We have discussed what these engines are all about, their pros and cons as well as their differences. You now have all the information you need to make an informed choice and decide on the one to go for.

But our work here is not done as we will still help to make this decision making much easier for you.

Different people have different priorities when pondering on whether to go for a short block engine or a long block engine. If what you prioritize is a fast installation and reliability, then you may want to go with the long block engine.

The reason for this is that most of the components come preinstalled so there is little to nothing that can go wrong here. Also since the parts are already installed it won’t take much of your time.

But bear it in mind that there are some makes and models of cars that are not compatible with just any long block engine. So ensure that the long block engine you are going for is one that will work well with your car’s transmission and ECU.

Now for those who would wish to do some customization, upgrades and tailor their engine block to suit specific needs, you should consider the short block engine.

The long block engine does not make provision for this as it comes with most of its parts already preinstalled. But with the short block engine, you get to buy these parts yourself so you can get what you prefer and fit it to suit you.

For instance if what you want is to get more power and performance, you can make upgrades and purchase parts that will allow you have just that.


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