engine seized

What to Do If Your Car’s Engine Locked Up or seized

A locked engine resulting from mechanical failure is typically a consequence of oil starvation, a critical issue in which the engine lacks the necessary lubrication. The absence of sufficient oil in the engine leads to the grinding of metal components against each other, generating intense friction and heat.

Experiencing a seized engine can impose a significant financial burden on the vehicle owner. Engine repairs are known to be expensive, particularly in severe cases like this. When an engine seizes, it has reached a state where the moving parts inside it can no longer function. The car becomes immobile, and driving it is no longer an option until extensive repair work is carried out. Even then, there is no guarantee that the engine won’t need complete replacement.

Irrespective of the underlying cause, a seized engine presents one of the gravest automotive problems one can encounter. Unlike issues such as a flat tire, which can be temporarily managed in an emergency, a seized engine offers no backup plan. It is incapable of moving the pistons up and down to complete the combustion process required to propel the vehicle forward. Thus, a seized engine stands as the most undesirable and final type of car trouble a driver can face.

Seized Engine Symptoms

The most prevalent cause of engine seizing is overheating to the extent that the metal components fuse together. It’s a scenario many of us are familiar with, where someone ignores the warning light on their dashboard, and their tale typically ends with the need to purchase a new car.

While issues with the crankshaft can also lead to engine seizure, they are not as commonplace as those stemming from extreme overheating.

Various factors can contribute to an engine seizing, ranging from insufficient fluids to the use of the wrong type of fluids. To avoid any of these causes, regular inspection and maintenance of your vehicle are crucial. Considering the investment you’ve made in your vehicle and your reliance on it, taking proper care to prevent a seized engine is in your best interest.

These are some common factors that can lead to engine seizure:

  1. Rust
  2. Low Oil Levels
  3. Poor Quality Oil
  4. Lack of Regular Use
  5. Water Damage
  6. Worn-out Engine Components
  7. Hydrolock


When your engine’s metal parts get rusty, they can stop working smoothly. This can make your engine overheat and eventually get stuck.

Low Oil Levels: 

Think of engine oil as the engine’s ‘lubrication’ or ‘slippery juice.’ If there isn’t enough of this juice, the engine’s moving parts can rub together and get too hot, leading to the engine getting stuck.

Poor Quality Oil: 

If you use bad or dirty oil, it won’t work as a good lubricant. This means your engine can get too hot and stuck because it’s not getting the right protection.

Lack of Regular Use: 

Imagine your car as a machine that needs to move to stay healthy. If it sits around for too long without being used, the engine’s parts can get gunked up and stop working properly.

Water Damage: 

Water in the engine is a big no-no. It doesn’t help things run smoothly like oil does. It can mix with the oil and make a mess, causing the engine to get too cold or even damaged.

Worn-out Engine Components: 

Over time, parts inside your engine can get old and tired. When they’re worn out, they don’t work well, and this can create heat and friction that might make your engine get stuck.


This is when your engine drinks too much water (not the good kind). It’s like trying to eat a big spoonful of water – it can make your engine sick and stop working.

In simple terms, these factors can make your engine stop working correctly or even freeze up. Regular check-ups and using good stuff like oil can help avoid these problems and keep your engine running smoothly.

How to Unseize An Engine

Fixing a stuck engine depends on what caused it. You can check if your engine is stuck by trying to turn a part called the crankshaft. If it moves, your engine isn’t stuck, and there might be a different problem.

If your engine gets stuck while you’re driving, there’s not much you can do on the spot. You’ll likely need serious engine repair or even a whole new one.

If your engine got stuck because it sat idle for a long time, you can try this: take out the spark plugs (they’re like the engine’s breathers), fill the engine with oil, and wait for a few days. Then, try turning the engine again. If it moves, you might save the engine. If not, you’ll have to take it apart and rebuild it.

If your engine is stuck because of water (hydrolock), take out the spark plugs right away and try to turn the engine. This should push out the water and unlock it. But this only works if there are no broken parts inside.

For an engine stuck due to vapor lock, you need to cool down the fuel so it turns from a gas back into a liquid. You can do this by letting it sit and cool off naturally, or if you’re in a hurry, you can splash cold water or ice on the fuel pump and lines to make it change back to liquid.

How Much Does It Cost If The Car Engine Is Seized?

When faced with the news that your engine is stuck, brace yourself for potential significant expenses in order to remedy the situation. This could involve purchasing replacement components or, in more severe cases, replacing the entire engine.

The cost of addressing a seized engine can vary considerably based on a multitude of factors. Your location, the nature and extent of the necessary repairs, the make and model of your vehicle, and labor costs all play a role in determining the final bill.

To delve into more detail, the cost spectrum for fixing or replacing an engine can be quite broad. For milder issues that require relatively simple repairs, you might be looking at an expenditure in the range of $500 to $1,500. However, if the engine seizure is more serious and necessitates extensive repairs or even a full replacement, the costs can escalate significantly. In these cases, you may find yourself facing bills ranging from $2,500 to $4,000 or more.

When considering a brand-new engine, the financial outlay becomes more substantial. A new engine of good quality can set you back between $4,000 and $7,000, and sometimes even more, depending on the type of engine and its specifications.

As an alternative to a new engine, you can explore the option of acquiring a used one. The cost of a used engine is generally more budget-friendly, with prices typically falling within the range of $1,500 to $3,000. Keep in mind that the actual expense can vary based on factors like the engine’s condition, age, and availability.

Is it Possible to Sell a Car with a Seized Engine?

When a car’s engine seizes up, it’s often classified as a “salvage” vehicle. This essentially means that the car still has some value, but its worth is significantly diminished due to the substantial damage. Repairing a seized engine can be extremely expensive, and many potential junk car buyers tend to steer clear of cars with this issue.

The value of a car with a seized engine depends on various factors, including the car’s make and model, its overall condition, and the specific problem afflicting the engine. In general, you can anticipate a considerably lower selling price for a car with a seized engine compared to one in good working order.

Selling a car, whether it’s a car, truck, SUV, or van, on your own can consume both time and money. Not to mention the additional costs associated with fixing and sprucing up your vehicle to attract junk car buyers. Selling a car privately can sometimes leave you in a financial bind.

However, services like Yourcarintocash offer a convenient and swift solution for selling a junk vehicle in any condition. we won’t ask you to repair what’s broken, which means you could have your car picked up, and a check in your hand in as little as 24 hours, making the process safe and hassle-free.