How to fix a seized car engine?

This blog post will answer the question, ‘How to fix a seized car engine?’, and cover topics like tools and materials required to fix a seized engine, causes and symptoms of a seized engine, a step-by-step guide to fix a seized engine, identification signs for a seized engine, and what to do if engine seizes while driving.

How to fix a seized car engine?

These are the following themes to fix a seized car engine:

  • Disconnecting all the accessories
  • Equalizing the car pressure
  • Removing the engine valve covers
  • Reassembly of the car engine

Tools and materials required to fix a seized engine

These are the various tools and materials that are required to fix a seized engine.


  • A wrench set 
  • Philips and standard types of screwdrivers
  • A set of sockets
  • A breaker bar


  • A kind of masking tape
  • Gaskets for replacement
  • Gasket sealant material
  • Oil

Causes and symptoms of a seized engine

These are the various causes and symptoms of a seized engine.

Oil deprivation

Oil deprivation is one of the common concerns that lead to engine seizing. This might happen due to a lack of oil checks being done or if the oil has been contaminated and has not been changed.

Oil deprivation should be taken care of quickly as it might cause various engine parts to overlap with each other and thus generate a large amount of heat.

This issue can be fixed by either changing the oil or by undergoing a full engine replacement. The symptoms of an oil-deprived engine are as follows:

  • Overheating of the engine
  • The smell of burning oil
  • A knocking sound from the engine

Insufficient circulation

This problem refers to the oil pump failing to pump oil into the critical components that need it, thus raising a circulation issue. This is why it is necessary to change the oil and oil filters that prevent harmful dirt, debris, and gunk from entering the pump.

The following are the symptoms to look for in case of insufficient circulation:

  • The oil pressure indicator turns on
  • A kind of tapping sound from the engine
  • Overheating of the engine

Insufficient usage

The problem that an underused car can cause is rusting. Although this is more common in older cars, it can cause problems like blocked piston rings against the walls of the engine cylinder.

The only fix to this problem is to at least start the car engine once a month and keep checking for leaks and replacing the oil whenever needed.


This is a very serious problem and the primary cause is the unwanted entry of water inside the engine and its cylinders. If water manages to enter the combustion chamber, it prevents the combustion from occurring and causes massive damage to the cylinder head and pistons.

Vapor lock

Vapor locking is indicative of a problem with a car’s fuel system. However, this issue is not that common as it only occurs in low-pressure-based fuel systems.

This mainly occurs when the gas present in the fuel pump turns into gas after heating up instead of being a liquid. This situation prevents fuel from reaching the engine and therefore, it cannot run.

These are the following symptoms to look out for in the case of a vapor-locked engine:

  • Sputtering engine
  • Overheating
  • The car being too old

A step-by-step guide to fixing a seized engine

These are the following steps to be followed to fix a seized engine.

Disconnecting all accessories

It is important to disconnect all the accessories that are present under the hood and are belt-driven. Doing this will allow components like the alternator, the fuel, and the steering pump from disconnecting and reducing the power required to dismantle pistons and manually turn the crankshaft.

Equalizing the car pressure

It is important to remove any kind of wiring or cables including the spark plugs. Doing so will help release pressure from the engine during the process of freeing the pistons.

Removing engine valve covers

This step is important as it helps in removing the rocker arms and the pushrods out of the engine cylinder head. Doing so helps reduce the hindrance that is faced to turn the crankshaft manually.

Reassembly of the engine

The engine and its components must be reassembled in the same way it was dismantled. This includes reconnecting all wires and cables and sealing all gaskets.

Identification signs for a seized engine

These are the following telltale signs of a seized engine:

  • Loud cranking noises
  • Visible fumes
  • Visible pistons
  • Car not starting

What to do if the engine seizes while driving?

These are the following steps to be taken if the engine seizes while driving:

  • Bring the transmission to neutral mode
  • Coast the car till you reach the roadside
  • Avoid starting the engine repeatedly to prevent the starter from burning
  • Contact a professional mechanic

Research has shown how an engine seize occurs in an F1 car and how it can affect the respective team.


This blog post answered the question, ‘How to fix a seized car engine?’.

We came across the various tools and materials required to fix a seized engine and understood the different causes and symptoms resembling a seized engine. Furthermore, a step-by-step guide to fixing a seized engine and its telltale identification signs has been provided. Advice on what to do if the engine seizes while driving has also been discussed. Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to fix a seized car engine?

Can a locked engine be fixed?

A locked engine that occurs while driving can only be either sent for extensive repairs or a total engine replacement.

How do you unseize a car engine?

Pour some engine oil into the cylinders and allow it to sit for a few days. Even now, if the engine does not turn over, use a breaker bar to do so.

How much does it cost to replace an engine?

To completely replace an engine along with its components, a payment somewhere between 2200 and 4000$ is to be expected.


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